Thoughts on a plane (Part 2, Houston to Japan)
About four months back, when I made a way home to Washington, I churned out a solid rant of thought and observation (Thoughts on a Plane–First post written). I did this on a three hour flight, after I got a little saucy in the airport bar.
I kept drinking on the plane, getting a little aggressive and asking for a beer pre-takeoff. Forty five minutes into the flight the lady stewardess with the hairy upper lip started to look like a doable eight. What I wrote during that next hour, amidst some sustained turbulence and conversation with the grizzled flight attendant, served as mindful observation. I noted what I saw and who I saw and I let the thoughts that resulted just be; unhealthy as they were… Regardless, I enjoyed the flight and I enjoyed noting my thoughts from that voyage. I looked forward to trying it again.
This flight was a little longer. From Houston to Japan, before heading for Guam, was a 14 hour aerial voyage. If you assumed more thought and observation on my part, because of the lengthier trek, you would be wrong. I spent a good amount of those 14 hours in a haze: Sake, wine, and the Dark Knight Trilogy.
Below are some words in bold format. Those are my notes from the flight. This time, I am not writing from the plane. I did not write on the plane. I was in first class, for fourteen hours. I drank two bottles of wine, enjoyed three entrees of braised ribs, and cumulatively spent over three hours reclining and inclining my leather seat–just so the grinders in economy could see me do it.
But, out of respect for anyone who read my last post or likes me because I party, I’m writing this from a poolside veranda. I’m also buzzed (drunk), not wearing a shirt (so I can bronze), and I just lied to the poolside bartender and told her I’m interested in buying the hotel.
Nonetheless, below are my notes; what I thought pertinent and what grabbed my curiosity:
United Airlines International Travel Pack:
Upon arriving on the plane, as I made my way to my seat (first class), on top of two folded blankets, a robe, three pillows, slippers, a menu, and a small Asian man, I noticed a travel bag. It was full. Already taken aback by the spacious confines of my seat, 4-A (first class), I was even more impressed by the offerings within this efficient bundle. I immediately rifled through the contents and put four or five items with long-term value (lotions, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc) in my carry on. After removing those items, I pilfered further. There were two pairs of socks. They were high quality. They were comfortable, a dark, ocean blue with the sticky hospital bottoms. I quickly discarded the Costco brand trash my mom sends and put the first pair on. They felt like lotion on my toes. Next, to my delight, was a satin eye mask, designed for a sleep unperturbed by light. I put it on later when I was drunk so I could mime and reach out like I was blind, maybe grabbing stray boob. There was also a set of breath mints and a small bottle of mouth wash. Not sure as to why I missed it the first time, I put the mouth wash in my carry on. Finally, after placing my carry on in the vertical compartment, at the bottom of the unzipped pack, was a United Airlines hand-towel. It was soft and it was what I dropped in the aisle to retrieve every time I reclined my seat to the full 180. This pack was great. I got one because I sat in first class.
Pilot/Stewardess Bed-Side Manner:
As I got to my seat, and after I had made myself comfortable and familiar with the amenities available to me, I sat with a little anticipation. I was slightly uneasy. I think a lot of other passengers were too; bloody marys and vino on deck before takeoff. However, after a few minutes of angst, the pilot came on over the PA. His voice was calm, resolute, and assuring. Instantly I felt a little better. His voice had that smooth sound, that one you get when you speak right after you let out a big healthy bong-rip (a pleasant muffle, if you will). It calmed me. I don’t think he was high–wouldn’t have bothered me if he was–but when he spoke I felt better, like I do when I’m around people who are high; they’re happier (chill). He made a couple astute observations about the weather, which is always nice, and proceeded to lay a few burns on his co-pilot buddies. The plane was at ease. He even made plane crash joke–which obv takes a set nuts to make in that setting–and did it in good taste. This pilot was a “guy”. I was literally and figuratively on-board.
Both flight attendants, one man and one lady, who served us in rotation, were pleasant and effective. Neither judged me as I ripped shots with my meals or watched a movie with bottles of wine. They smiled, provided napkins and hot towels when I started drooling, and topped me off when the glass ran low. Gentle banter between us, like, “are you sure you want another glass?” or, “oh, you spilled, again, let me grab a towel”, was commonplace, and made this flight experience even better.
Mile High Club:
There were over 120 films to choose from; not to mention the TV shows, wi-fi capability, gaming options, music, and news outlets. You could say there were a plethora of options. I’ll say there were a plethora of options because I just told the aforementioned poolside bartender that the plethora of hotel entertainment options was one of the main reasons I was interested in purchase. Regardless, with these options abound, I had some choices to make. I knew I couldn’t pick a movie from the “new releases” section. This section was available to the economy section. I was above that. I didn’t actually chose the Dark Knight Trilogy like I said earlier. I said that because it was the most fitting reference. I lie a lot. I watched The Prestige–great film from the mind of Chris Nolan– and then Beauty and the Beast and then Saving Private Ryan. Of those three, Beauty and the Beast was the most enjoyable. I look forward to the remake cuming this summer with Emma Watson (Hermione) as Belle. Just thinking of her, I still experience ill feeling toward Harry for not getting in that.
Hot Towels and Nuts:
I realize that this bullet, hot towels and nuts, sounds like an adult film, but it was actually the first thing I wrote down for my notes. This airline tactic/gimmick has got to be the most cost effective way to make high paying customers happy. The towel, which I didn’t return and placed in my now bustling carry on after the steam dissipated, can’t cost more than a quarter, and the nuts are all eye-wash–same nuts as in economy, just placed in nice ceramic, alabaster bowls. Fluff. Nothing more. But, noticing the reactions of the passengers in my cabin, and their pompous glee as they place these steaming, glorified nut-rags on their face, I couldn’t help but tip the proverbial cap to United… If they offered a United cap I would have taken that too.
They provide comfortable slippers for first class travelers. They are provided, I believe, so the passengers feel optimal comfort in their seat confines. I enjoyed mine, as they were cushioned, open-toed, and quite breathable. They did bring up an issue of decorum/protocol though, that I wasn’t sure about. Two hours into the flight I needed to break the seal (high pee pee rate from heavy drinking). I was the first passenger in our elite cabin who had to use the facilities, so I wasn’t able to see if slippers were something worn to the lavatory. I am a dirtbag and hygiene has never really been something I allocate much thought, but I wanted to act as if I belonged. Is it permissible to drop tank in the airplane bathroom wearing slippers, with no socks? Is that frowned upon? Is that bush-league, something the low-level economy class grinders would do? Is it like going barefoot into a public restroom, which I’ve gotten grief for in the past? I don’t know. I did it.
If you’re bothered by turbulence, on a large plane, you’re a child. If you’re bothered by turbulence on a large plane, full of alcohol, that is free, I hate you.
I was lucky enough to sit next to a best friend on this flight. I was lucky, mainly, because I didn’t have to deal with strangers neglecting the basic, universal, social courtesy amongst passengers:
- If head-phones are on, don’t take that as an invitation to inquire as to where they’re headed or where home is. Everyone has flown next to this guy and everyone hates this guy. If you haven’t, you are this guy, and you’re a below average person. Respect the quiet, respect the privacy, focus on your hot towel.
- Same applies for someone reading. Regard a book or magazine the same as head-phones. Don’t try and time the conversation during a page turn or new chapter.
- Be mindful of odor before kicking off the shoes. Take measures to thwart smell, like spray or deodorant. They gave us both in first class.
- If you’re huge, lose weight.