Saturday, August 2, 2008

Come fly with me...

I come from a flying family. My grandfather had his own plane. My grandmother (post-divorce) took exotic vacations and flew around the world. (I have a piece or two of her old luggage.) My mother learned to fly, then she married a pilot. My uncle flew, my brother was an air traffic controller and built his own planes. I was a flight attendant... Flying is in my blood. However, it feels like the lifeblood is rapidly draining away on the tarmac. What has happened to the airline industry? Where's the glamour? Where's the elegance? Where's the privilege of flying? This return trip from the US made me feel like I was plopped into steerage class from hell. The TGV is looking real good these days.

I booked this trip to NYC well ahead of time with plenty of options to choose from. I chose to fly a European airline (Swiss), as the news this past spring was all about excess baggage and weight charges being assessed on the US carriers. I also wanted to up my mileage with the program I am signed up with (Star Alliance). I could have gone direct from Paris to JFK on Air France, but with no miles being accounted for. (I now have enough for a free round trip ticket or a round trip upgrade.)

I also got a deal on the hotel by booking the entire trip through In some ways, because I booked it myself, I expected a few disappointments. I must say that the hotel (Eastgate Tower Hotel) was wonderful. Thank you to Carol, Jerry and Najeste for a wonderful stay. The staff could not have been more helpful. For three weeks I felt like I was at home abroad.

Open comment to the woman at the check-in counter at Swiss Airlines in JFK on 31 July. First off... if you hate your job so much, move on. Some one else would be happy sitting in your seat. Your attitude does nothing to promote the face of the company you represent. Second... Honey, I can count. When you insisted that you gave me a window and an aisle (F & G) and I asked you to recheck and you said "what's the problem?" ... the problem is that when I worked for the airlines, I had to know the seat configuration for every aircraft I was qualified on. 2-4-2 = AB-DEFG-JK. Your configuration. That's why I asked. Third, even though I was technically under the overall baggage weight limit for 2 passengers, (there wasn't much more that I could pack into the guitar case or the smaller duffel bag) why couldn't you be gracious enough to accommodate that in your assessment of our bags? We had weight to spare, but because one bag was over by 4 kilos, you made me pay the $50 overweight baggage charge. Merci.

And when did the carry-on baggage weight limit kick in? Carry-ons are now limited to 8 kilos?? So, the theory here is that as long as my carry-on bag passes the initial weight test and I can stroll through the x-ray machines without my liquids, I have every right to march into duty-free and purchase 50 kilos of (insert your favorite beverage here) without being fined?? Okay. Cool. Just so I know the rules. By the way, it would be nice if you would wear your ID with pride so we would know your name, and not tucked inside your shirt. Good or bad, tell the truth. All the time. Be proud of what you do.

I will go into a bit of detail on the actual NYC trip activities in the next few days. There is a lot I want to share; really good, fun stuff. But right now, I'm dealing with jet-lag and I promise to get over it as quickly as I can. Until then...

Let's fly, let's fly away...

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