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thank goodness I am not flying with kids

Jerry: “I can’t go back to coach!”

This is from the 52nd episode of Seinfeld “The Airport”. The Hyperlink takes you to an 8-minute long collection of the best scenes from this episode. Watch from 7:20 for one of my favorite lines from my beloved TV series:

“Do you realize the people back here are getting cookies?!”

I don’t know why. I just loved it even back in 1992 when I had no idea that I would be flying frequently. In coach, nonetheless…

This post could have been titled “WTF Wednesday: How the Other Half Lives”. But seeing how it is already Thursday and I have been cheating via backdating a lot lately, I will just skip a WTF Wednesday post. This should help with my image anyway: soon I fear I will only be posting WTF posts and nothing else. Since my life seems to be full of WTF moments. Or it could just be me: I am wearing WTF Goggles as I go through life…

It suffices to say that Karma delivered. After my not-so-satisfactory-yet-definitely-great-blog-fodder-and-therefore-I-should-be-grateful-all-considered flights to Taipei, I was upgraded to Business Class for the leg between Taipei and Tokyo.

Prior to this, I had ONLY heard of the Lie-Flat Business Class outfitted for the Trans-Pacific flights. (From my beloved husband nonetheless, who will certainly get it from now on if he ever complains about his air travel…) Oh boy, was I excited. When I got to the plane, I was really nervous: I would have been greatly disappointed if for some reason this plane had only the regular Business Class seats. (Yes, one does get spoiled very quickly…) Wait. How come I could not find my row? It went straight from Row 10 to Row 19. Is it a cruel joke? The flight attendant pointed UP and said, “Your seat is on the Upper Level.”

WTF? Upper Level? There is an Upper Level? I mean: I knew there is an Upper Level on a 747 but I thought that was for the super duper Secret Society First Class seats: where they have a hot tub and possibly a stripper pole or something.

As I ascended the stairs, I could hear the angels singing, celestial music playing in the background. “Ahhhhh—–” Much to the chagrin of my seatmate, I started taking pictures as soon as I finished putting everything away. Oh my. So many choices in WHERE to store my shit that it took me a while to figure it out… (He soon exchanged seats with his wife…) I did not know that I would ever, ever, wish for a flight to last longer. Alas. It was not meant to be. The plane actually landed early. I only got to enjoy my Lazy Boy home theatre for a bit longer than two hours. So why couldn’t this flight have been diverted to Alaska? I would have been HAPPY… Very happy.

CODA: Soon afterwards, Karma delivered again. This time to balance everything out my flight from Tokyo back to Washington D.C. was delayed for TWO hours. And of course this time I was back to my coach class for the 12-hour flight. The reason for our delay? AFTER the Christmas Underpants Bomber threat, AFTER the airports around the world heightened security checks by adding a second checkpoint right at the gates for US-bound flights, AFTER we had all been searched and padded down by hand, thoroughly, some Einstein decided that it was a smart move to make a joke about a bomb with the flight attendant. She reported his dumb ass and he was hauled off the plane. Subsequently the cargo area had to be searched to rule out any suspicious material in addition to locate this guy’s checked luggage. Police and security guards were also on board to search the plane before we were allowed to take off.

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I finished reading the book that I brought with me 3 hours into the flight. What now? Should have saved the book for the trip rather than greedily starting it before Christmas.

With the detour to Sarah Palin’s homeland I now have an even longer flight with no reading material. And sitting in the middle seat of the exit row by the lavatory does not make it easier to fall asleep, and when I did fall asleep, to stay asleep, I have the opposite issue of a claustrophobic: I like to feel enclosed, better if squeezed into a corner like what they say about colicky babies. I know there is a great story of how I prefer to sleep like a gerbil all curled up but I will refrain and save it for another time… But here I am, sitting out in the open, with all the wide open space, and everybody and their uncle done come and stood in front of me at one time or another during the flight.

And I only have myself to blame…

I have gone and changed myself into possibly. the worst seat on the plane. I reserved myself a window seat in the economy plus section when I first booked my flight. I got status on United. Yessiree.  I’d better, after the 40+ segments I done on flying United this past year… But not enough of a status to select the exit row. When I checked in on line the day before, I saw that there were empty rows towards the back of the plane. The plain old economy seats. But I am fine with less leg room if it means I can haz an entire row to myself. Earth to me: too good to be true… I switched myself out of Economy Plus. United.com actually flashed a screen with this question: Are you sure you don’t want Economy Plus? I pity the fool that didn’t listen to the robot…

When I got to the gate, I sashayed to the counter, flashed the agent my most charming smile:

“I am sorry for being a pain, but would you mind checking for me whether this row is still empty?” He laughed but did it anyway.

“The row is no longer empty. Would you like me to change you back to Economy Plus?”

“Oh yes sir please.” I imagined myself batting my eyelashes if I had any.

“Ummmm. Huhhhhh. All we’ve got left are middle seats now. Harrumph. Oh wait. do you want the exit row?”

“Oh yes yes please!” Why you even bother asking? Anybody ever said no? In my excitement, I failed to remember what Seat Guru said about this particular row: The seats are displayed in red on the website because they are right by the bathroom section…

The view from my thrice-changed seat

When I saw my seat I wish I had Seat Guru all memorized. Or that I had the thick skin to say, “Excuse me, I appreciate your help and all, but hold on, while I consult with Seat Guru. Oh no, the exit row you offered me won’t do because lookee here, these seats are in RED! It says here: do not sit here ’cause them by the bathrooms. Oh and this particular seat is in the middle. Why would you think anybody would want to give up their window seat for a middle seat is beyond me? I am sorry if I just sounded like am ungrateful bitch…”

During the excitement of the medical emergency, the three of us sitting in that exit row were asked to move to some other seats on the plane. Nothing but middle seats left in the back. Except one. The row right in front of the kitchen galley that is especially cramped, and the seats do not recline. I sat at the end, after the man on the other end woke his wife up and explained to her that I had to sit where her head was. The lady commented that these seats have got to be the worst seats on the plane, and I thought “I don’t mind sitting here all cozy and secure!” We got to talking and I thought we were having such a good time. I even offered to give her the book I was reading when I’m done. After perhaps an hour, she nudged. “Are you sure you can’t go back to your seat now? Will they let you go back now?”

People do see the empty seats next to them as a god-given right as soon as the plane is in the air. Don’t even think about moving into someone’s empty seats an hour into the flight. You will forever be known as the jackass that took THEIR seat.

Later the plane started making high pitched noise bbbbbbbeeeeeeeeeeeppppppppppppp near the exit door. It was so loud that the flight attendants noticed and asked us whether we’d like to move to other seats IF we could find one. So I walked to the back of the plane as I was told. Sure enough all the empty seats have been occupied by horizontal sleeping bodies. I walked back to my seat. Like a fool. I was not going to move from my seat again. Bathroom or not.

Dude. close the friggin' door! And yes, I got up and closed the damned door BUT not before I took a picture of it...

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I am in Alaska. More specifically, I am sitting on the plane on the runway. In Anchorage. We have to make the emergency stop here because a passenger passed out en route to Narita. Although he looks rather young, he apparently has suffered a heart attack recently. He is also traveling by himself, with TWO young children. After they revived him, they decided that he needs to be checked out. So off to Alaska we go.

Sigh. I am praying so hard I don’t miss my connecting flight that I am on the verge of crying.

It must have something to do with me making fun of Sarah Palin. Or me making fun of my father-in-law getting the book Going Rogue as a surprise Christmas present. Or in fact, me making fun of him wearing a hat from Alaska this morning.

“So the hat. Are you wearing that to honor Sarah Palin?”

“Oh yeah. I even went to Alaska to visit her.”

“So did you see Russia when you were there?”

Well, I can tell ya, I cannot see Russia from where I am sitting.

Sigh.

Update: It is 3 am on 12/27 in Taipei. I have been here in the apartment that my parents live with my nephews since 11 pm. They wanted to feed me all sorts of food. I just wanted a bowl of white rice. And ramen noodles my mom cooked. Here is the view from the plane overlooking the snowy mountain when we flew into Anchorage. It is majestic. I guess this must be the silver lining if any could be found for the detour… I pray the man and his children are ok, that they also managed to find some silver lining to this awful and stressful experience…

The view from the plane when flying into Anchorage

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