Reflections from a higher plane pt.5

Travel anecdotes and notes

airplane sunset


Flying Lufthansa from Hong Kong to Frankfurt, I am squeezed against a window in coach, as I was previously on Air New Zealand now half a day previously, seat half invaded by a man seemingly oblivious to my personal space or comfort, even though I am more than confident it would be I who would win any prospective arm wrestling contest, on the basis of our respective builds alone. I am fuming inwardly, not at this seat-jacker mind you—par for the course in economy class, and relatively minor on the scale of discomfort compared to the time I crossed the entire Pacific ocean next to a famous rugby player's even larger first cousin—rather I am angry because I have 'Gold Status' on this particular airline, and aside from the expectation I should be treated like landed gentry, if not royalty, space permitting the inside seat should have be blocked off, as it has been in rows front and behind. Perhaps, and this is a common thread in my life to date, I am being taught another lesson about privilege and its appreciation due.

Pride swallowed, I await my hard to swallow "special" meal, title ironic of course. Despite my aristocratic pretensions, I wouldn't dream of making a fuss about such a small matter, and remind myself of the special purpose for which I am making this journey: a trip to see meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy —my real frequent flyer reward.

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Earlier in the day—'day' at this point a loose term when you have been through this many time zones—there was an incident more serious than my own considerable seating discomfort. It was even deemed quote "a serious incident" by an Air New Zealand steward over the public address, albeit in a tone less stern than required to be convincing. The rather young steward was meek and mild in a typically New Zealand fashion, a manner probably disarmingly refreshing to those from elsewhere, and the experience was akin to being told off by a younger brother—hard to take seriously. Someone had been smoking in one of the bathrooms it transpired, and had tampered with the smoke detector as well, an action "subject to fines and possible imprisonment upon landing." In all my years of flying I have never encountered this kind of stupidity, and was inspired to do my bit for shared passenger outrage, surreptitiously checking for smoke on my neighbour's clothing. In New Zealand, where smoking is banned almost everywhere public, you would probably make the papers pulling a stunt like this.