My Top 5 Lowlights - Number 5 - The airline upgrade story that never was

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Thursday, 28 August 2008

As promised, and without further ado (whatever that word may mean without ag and pineapple), here is number 5 of my top five lowlights:

One of life’s little mysteries is that sometimes when travelling by air, people who have paid for the cheapest ticket on the plane get to sit in the most expensive seat. Now it’s probably not that mysterious at all, just a result of overbooking by greedy airline companies, but it still seems a little unfair, (Am I a Marxist to wish for a classless airline company?)

However despite the fact that it involves absolutely no skill of their own, most people who are upgraded boast and brag afterwards. It can involve anything from the food and the service, to the headphones that work or the toiletry bag filled with products you can actually use, from the massage chairs, the spa and the flatbed with inbuilt toilets, to the goodnight kiss, the sponge bath before landing, and not to forget, the prestige and kudos of being in front of (as opposed to behind) the partition.

Well I thought my time had finally come to join this infamous albeit annoying group of people when upon checking in at Singapore Airport I heard the words:

“I’m sorry sir, the flight is overbooked and we’re currently looking for people who would be willing to stay an extra day in Singapore. If you’re interested we could have you stay at a hotel tonight, and put you on the same flight tomorrow, but in first class”.

While resisting the urge to say the first three words that came into my head – “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” – I was overcome by a sense of power, a completely unknown experience for me in dealing with airline staff, either on or off the plane.

But without too much persuasion I accepted the offer and was instructed to wait on some seats near the check in counter, although like a dog with worms, I was barely able to sit still. I was already thinking about the flatbed and the spongebath, but I was happy enough just waiting. Twenty minutes went by, and then thirty minutes. Before too long an hour had passed and I was still sitting next to the airline counter. Without going in to the psychological trauma, and to complete this upgrade story that never was, I will leave you with the words of the airline staff who delivered the fateful words:

“I’m sorry for the wait sir, but you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve found room for you on the plane … in economy class. Although you’d better hurry sir – the plane leaves in 10 minutes”

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