Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Welcome To Air RD

I reckon I would be classed as a fairly frequent flyer. I'm not one of those business "if it's Monday it must be New York" type of geezers although I guess I do fly quite often and I've got airmiles oozing out of most of my pores, yet only of the Sri Lankan and Singaporean variety.

As the pauper I am I can't afford to fly business class either. I've been lucky enough to do it a few times, through usage of the accumulated airmiles and the occasional wad of cash, but generally you'll find me ensconced with the proletariat and smelling of cabbage and urine, as they tend to.

I rarely even bother with trying to get an upgrade when I check in either. It's only mythical people who manage to blag upgrades by smiling in the right way or having that knack. Life, or airline life, is full of stories about these chaps but they're always friends of friends, never people any of us know directly.

One of the funniest, and I mean this in a totally cruel way, things I have ever seen was Music Biz Bro trying to teach me how to get one a few years' ago. We were flying to Denmark together and he was trying to impress me with his ability to get us moved up to business class, as learned from a friend, who had learned from another fellow, that mythical chap. Music Biz Bro ended up having to give the checkout girl a 10 inch pile of CDs, as he'd promised them before he knew what was happening, then we traipsed off to our economy seats, as booked. The CDs weren't the problem, the teasing from me was, but that's what brothers do.

These regular flights, coupled with my ability to observe like an old Sri Lankan man standing in a doorway, as well as a lack of mobile phone and internet on a plane, mean that I invariably spend a large part of a long plane trip looking at my fellow passengers and studying their habits, almost as if I might write about them at some point.

Yesterday, while sitting there on a packed 747 in an economy section that had everything one would expect, if one expected things with a sense of reality and didn't believe what they said on TV adverts for aircraft, I realised that the average airline has made a big mistake in the way they divide up the passengers.

Business and first class are exempt from my plan. If people can or want to pay for those levels of comfort and luxury then that's fine with me. What is really needed is a system of dividing up us economy proles. If I had an airline I'd have two, maybe three, economy sections and they'd be based on knowledge. Knowledge on how to behave on a plane that is, not exams or degrees or anything.

As I people watched I noticed that there are us experienced chaps and girls and then there are the idiot novices. And quite frankly I'm sick of sitting next to, or even close to, these bloody fucking idiots. It's not really their fault I know, but they need their own section or at least some kind of mini training course before they get on the plane.

I get on a plane. I know where I want to sit, I know how much room I'll have, or won't have and I just get on with things. All around me I see people who have similar levels of knowledge. I think we have a certain level of confidence in our on plane behaviour. We don't bother watching the safety video or locating our nearest exits as we know that, in the event of a crash landing, we'll almost definitely die.

I don't spend ages trying to figure out how to use the handset for the "entertainment" centre and I know precisely which things to take out of my hand luggage for the flight. You won't catch me popping out of my seat every five minutes to grab a book or toothbrush from the overhead locker. And I know how to open the thing too. I won't be one of the twats who devotes several minutes to pressing the button that calls the stewards and wondering what it's for.

When they serve a meal I'm one of the efficient ones who know what I want because I've read the menu, I won't ask the aircrew to tell me my options. Just after dinner / lunch / breakfast I won't be found in the ten person queue for the toilet either. I know that it's best to excavate before then, ideally squeezing out of my seat when everyone else is trapped by the tray full of their finished meal.

I'll use my seatbelt, not half of my neighbour's and I know that the plane is unlikely to crash when it goes through a bit of turbulence. I also know that no plane has a falangee, not even the new A380 and if my neighbour initiates conversation with me very early in the flight it's a bad move to be too friendly. The last thing any traveller wants is twelve hours' of some Aussie backpacker regaling you with stories of how pissed he was last Wednesday or how great he thinks Goa is.

I know that, tucked into my seat, it's quite safe to drop a few silent but deadlies. No one will know exactly who the guilty party is, particularly if there are old people nearby. With the background noise of the engines I know that I can even get away with a few noisier ones if my face doesn't reveal the guilt.

These are the things I have learned and I want a little section for people with this level of knowledge. The novices, those who'll just annoy others, can have their own section and sit and ask each other all the innane questions. The aircrew can allow more time to serve them their meals as they know they'll be faced with a barrage of stupid enquiries. They can have their own toilets and easy to open overhead lockers and, the split second the plane lands, they'll be allowed to rush towards the doors foolishly thinking that their luggage will arrive quicker on the conveyor belt and they'll get out of the airport quicker than others.

The rest of us, in Advanced level economy, can sit quietly and enjoy the ride.

What do you think?


Jane Doe said...

I agree RD. What's worse is when it's a kindly old soul who looks at you expectantly when they can't figure things out and guilt you into helping them!

I like to think that I have come to a stage in life that allows me to consider myself an advanced economy traveler even though I tend to rush out as soon as we land, that's usually to avoid lines and people.

Spice said...

I so agree. But I have to say, You haven't experienced it all until you are a young female trapped in the back of an economy class with around 30 whale size alcoholic indian men around you. The blaring loud music from the too loud headphones, the takeaway paratas wrapped in paper, the nonstop camera flashes, loud nonstop demands from the poor airhostess for alcohol, and the best, the not so subtle staring and scarecrow like grins directed at you. Arghh. You can't shut them out yet alone sleep. I had the miracle of another stranded girl across the aisle, and we became instant friends ready to bash any of the fat whales if they tried anything funny.

Ahamed Nizar said...

when can i book my flight?

Anonymous said...

I get really windy in planes too!

They just bubble up my bottom and emerge from my jeans.

How funny RD.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Jane - Despite the rushing out it sounds as if you'd qualify for advanced economy.

Spice - Yes, that sounds like a bit of a nightmare for sure. I get lots of people staring at me too, I know the feeling.

Ahamed - I'll keep you posted

Anon - Let's hope we never share a flight eh??!

T said...

hear hear! i heartily second that idea. i *detest* novice fliers (flyers?). if they were seated with other novice fliers they'd learn fast enough what to do and not to do.

Anonymous said...

Luckily I can steal my parents FreqMiles or kilometers. After reading about the farts, I will beg borrow to get to better spaced class. (I am the type who goes to bathroom to fart, even at home! Even after RD's stealth lessons! ;)