Saturday, May 28, 2005
I was late leaving my office on Thursday, and lost more time with some last-minute shopping on the way home. So I rushed through my packing, and left the house almost an hour late - which was my buffer hour, in case I hit any traffic going into New York. As it happened, I didn't hit much traffic, but I did have to park in long-term parking, a long way from Terminal 7, even by AirTrain.
So I was among the last stragglers at the check-in desk, and the ticket agent and her companion were furrowing their brows; they couldn't find an empty seat on the flight. I knew the flight was heavily booked, this Thursday before Memorial Day, and I began to sweat the idea of being bumped due to overbooking. (One of the peculiarities of the airline industry; selling more of a product or service than you actually have to offer.) But the chief booking-agent-guy came over, hit a few keys, and up popped my boarding pass.
I didn't realize until I got to the gate that they had seated me in business class; and just in time for my first perq - I got to walk straight through and board immediately, rather than wait in a 100-deep queue.
Arriving at my seat, I began to revel in the other windfalls of my situation. The seat was capacious, a power-operated Barcalounger with enough room to open up into a small bed. The meal menu featured Thai prawns, and a fantastic salad with lobster meat and marinated mushrooms. The cabin crew busily brought me goodies - a selection of cheeses, champagne, port wine, and a nice little deluxe travel kit. And time and again, those wonderful hot towels!
This was actually the fourth time I have flown in a higher class that I booked; I have never actually paid for a seat upgrade. But I must say, this was probably the nicest, most pleasant airline flight I have ever been on. Even the cabin noise seemed remarkably low. The only hiccup came when we landed, over half an hour early. Parked at our gate, engines shut down, we waited for 15 minutes because the air bridge - the telescoping tubelike hallway that meets up with the aircraft cabin door - would not move. They finally had to use a tug to push our plane back, and tow it to the next gate over.
But all ended well, we still got into the airport at our proper departure time, and I arrived refreshed and happy. Which I would have been in any case, since I was here to see Gail; she met me as I cleared Customs, and we've been having a great time since then. More later, it's her turn to upload some photos, and I'm on her Powerbook!