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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Upgrade fail : A brief pause at the pointy end of the plane

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Following on from Monday's post about my near miss with a Cambodian cavity search, I bring you the lead up / follow on / surrounding fail that accompanied that whole 'experience'.

Without fail, I always choose the slowest check-in queue.  Every time.

Pick the shortest queue - and it's being served by a trainee with "search and destroy" typing skills.

Pick the middle queue that appears to be moving the fastest - and the family of 11 in front of me realise they've only booked for 10 upon reaching the counter.

Swapping queues is a big mistake - for me.

If I leave your queue, it is the best thing in the world that I can do for you.  Because, as soon as I leave, you will zoom to the front of the queue at the speed of light.

However, if I move into your queue, you can kiss your formerly steady progression to the front of the queue goodbye.  Any one of the previously listed delays will occur, culminating in a computer malfunction, staff changeover, or really important and lengthy phone call that requires at least 10 minutes of the check-in staff member's undivided attention.


And so, upon carefully selecting a check-in queue at Phnom Penh airport, I watched the 4 people from our building group also travelling on the same flight, speed through the check in process via other queues.

My niece was all 'family first' and stuck with me.

Big mistake.

We swapped queues twice, thus rendering those in our queue completely stagnant to the point where one mother directed her young child to go sit down near the wall and she'd call her when the line moved.

She never called her while we were behind her, but as soon as we moved, her queue leapt forward.

Finally, after decades in the queue, we were checked in.

Followed by my unfortunate hour with the airport officials.

Meaning I was able to find and join the rest of the group around 40 minutes before departure.

Which was plenty of time for them to catch me up on the drinks and snacks they'd managed, the shopping they'd done.

Naturally, our flight is delayed.

I'm the idiot who stays in the queue while everyone else sits down for an hour.

Of course.

Finally, we board, I'm enjoying the smugness that comes with paying for the front row and all that leg room and priority boarding, as the rest of the group finally shuffle on to their seats towards the back.

I motion to the spare seat next to me, which is met with a 2 finger salute.


Then the extremely tall passenger behind me takes his shoes off and puts his feet up on my arm rest.

All the ewwwww.

We reach Kuala Lumpur and, having talked up the whole OptionTown bargain upgrade program, I am delighted to get through the transit check-in process and wave my successfully upgraded ticket in the faces of my lowly economy travelling companions.

We're talking totally gracious, IN YOUR FACE, SUCKERS!

Come time to board and I am overjoyed to see my fellow travellers reluctantly shuffling towards the back end of the plane while I'm already comfortably seated at the pointy end - I get them to stop and observe the full range of push-button movement as I demonstrate the range of the flat bed.

They are all super psyched for me, I can tell.

Minutes later and the last passenger rushes on board.

I'm chatting to the pointy end passenger next to me when this late comer walks up to my seat, before turning around and heading back to speak to the flight attendant.

Poor love, she's obviously having trouble finding her seat....

Much confusion ensues, capturing the attention of all passengers within earshot.

I hear the latecomer say to the hostess, "Look, I really don't care.  I just want the plane to take off on time", before heading back to the economy section and sitting down.

Ground staff are bought on board the plane and a few minutes pass before they arrive at my seat.

"I'm afraid you're sitting in the wrong seat."  Said loud enough for all of Premium and the first half a dozen rows of economy to hear.  Thus meaning everyone is now looking at me as the loser who is holding up their departure, and trying to steal someones seat at the pointy end of the plane.

"No no, no I'm not.  I paid for the upgrade, check my booking".  Said with mild panic.

"Yes, but so did the other passenger.  It seems that the upgrade has been sold twice."  Said apologetically, and with far less volume than their previous statement, meaning other passengers haven't heard that I am not stealing someones seat at the pointy end.

"Well I'm sorry, but that's not my fault.  I just heard the other passenger say they didn't care.  She appears quite happy to sit in economy."  Wreaking of desperation at this point.

"I'm very sorry Madam, but that passenger purchased her upgrade at the airport, direct with the airline.  You purchased yours from a third party, therefore we must insist that you move.  We will ensure you receive a refund."  Tone of voice reminiscent of a well trained teacher handling a child about to burst into tears (quite apt, at the time).

Nevermind the whole 'Madam' thing.  When did I become a 'Madam' and not a youthful 'Miss'?

And so I am escorted back to the lowly economy section, all eyes on me.

Straight past the front row economy seat with the extra leg room that I had originally paid for, because the airline had, of course, sold that prime seat on as an upgrade to somebody else once they had registered my own move to the pointy end.

I mean, seriously, could it get any worse?

Yes, yes it could.

My travelling companions who I had been so quick to show off to in the 5 minutes that my arse was making an imprint in the pointy end flat bed seat, were so far at the back of the plane that they were not even aware of any of this.

Until I told them, upon arrival back into Perth.

Eventually they stopped laughing.

Worst trip home, ever.

Including the time I did score an upgrade, and then got incredibly sick from the fancy business class food, spending 4 days in bed upon returning home.

Since returning home I have since been consoling / torturing myself by watching YouTube clips of First Class travel.  Because, you know, I can dream.  And, clearly, I must be a bit of a masochist.

Next time....

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1 comment:

  1. some people i know checks in very late... 30 minutes before flight to be bumped to business class


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