The World’s Favourite Airline

I had a Gary Bainbridge moment on the plane to Marseilles today. Those of you who have never read Gary Bainbridge’s marvellous weekly columns for the Liverpool Daily Post on the minutiae of life, well shame on you! You’ve really missed something. And I urge,  URGE you to read them forthwith. I think he’s written a book too but I can’t vouch for that as I’ve not read it yet. But I expect it’s just like a frustrating, fascinating, long version of one of his columns. But I might be wrong.

Anyway, I was on a flight to Marseilles, on holiday with husband sans offspring who are far too busy doing far more important things to have time for a holiday with their olds. And plus we have to pay for them to do it all which is a pain. I was on British Aitways Flight BA2796 from London Gatwick to Marseille Provence. The inflight catering arrived, presented by an apologetic male cabin crew. (When I worked for a hugely important and now sadly defunct advertising agency, we had strict instructions [given by me] not to call them air stewards or stewardesses, a potentially non-gender neutral job title.) Anyway, infight catering consisted of a chicken pesto roll so tasteless, despite the seeded wholemeal bread, that it could have been filled with that stuff you spray into walls to fill the holes. The tinyness of the roll was disguised by the brown paper bag in which it arrived, accompanied by a little bag containing paper napkin; sugar and stirrer; a toy pot of tasteless, smelly UHT milk that inevitably sprays itself all over your table and your chic travelling clothes as you open it and a little plastic bag, punched with a little hole just big enough to fit the little hook on the the little seat in front of us. This, Dear Reader, was the rubbish bag. It came in its own little sachet which, having been opened, and in a twist to normal plastic bag hierarchy, is to be popped into the bag that is hung up on the hook in front of you to take the rubbish.  You’ll be glad to hear, Dear Reader, that this whole shebang is environmentally responsible, made as it is, of biodegradable plastic. I am not sure whether the same can be said of the original brown paper bag that contained all of this bagagerie, which must also be placed in the specially-beholed biodegradable plastic bag, so delicately up there on the seat in front of me. It has a plastic front panel so one can see the contents within and I’m not sure whether that plastic is biodegradable. Ah well.

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Now, on the flight was the inevitable baby who screamed angrily and hungrily from the moment its mother took her seat a couple of rows behind us until it was safely inside the Marseilles terminal building two hours later. In fact, it made a pretty poor substitute for the Tweeting and phonage in which we were not allowed to partake during our time aboard. Luckily we had emergency exit wing seats so near the engines that their roar blocked out the screaming din for most of the time. The child, I later ascertained by observance that it was a newborn so young that it was unable even to support its own head, was not to blame for its rage. (Incidentally, I call it “it” not in a hate-filled sneery manner of people who have never had to travel with a small scion, rather because I don’t know whether the baby was a girl or a boy and I don’t like to make assumptions) I blame Gina Ford, who undoubtedly set out in her timetable of baby organisation that the infant was not due to be fed until it had arrived safely home an indeterminable distance from Marseille airport. Unfortunately, newborns cannot yet read, no not even YOUR newborns, suburban mamas, and are not terribly open to reason.

So this baby screamed and screamed and screamed. I do not know whether it was sick. Luckily my husband slept all through this cacophony. He is very tired, you know. He has a demanding job and can fall asleep standing up in a London tube train packed full of noisy circus performers, but I did not. It was not, I hasten to emphasise, the baby’s fault. I am not a child hater. But, in my view, anyone who adheres strictly to the Gina Ford method and refuses to feed their obviously angry and hungry newborn infant and at the same time, through blithe but selfish, sneery, snobbery denies it the basic comfort of a dummy should not be allowed on international flights. In future, I am determined to carry a sterilised dummy in my handbag to cover this inevitable situation.

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My poor husband has recently lost his British Airways Silver Executive Club card membership. Because of the machinations of those damn Frenchies for whom he works, my husband no longer has to travel to Columbia, Argentina or Peru twice every year. Or even to New York. This is sad for him and me, because when he travels he actually manages to have a less stressful time away from the London office and get a decent night’s sleep without having to worry about the washing up or the Boywonder’s most recent betises. Conversely, of course, this means that I do, but that is irrelevant here. Anyway, the loss of Silver tier status means that, from the end of August (luckily not before) he will lose his priority check – in and his right to patronise British Airways’ Executive Lounges which, at Gatwick at least, appear to be staffed solely by people in their 50s and 60s at least. Woo! Hooray for anti-ageism legislation to which I contributed.

The indignity of this loss is unbearable, so much so that when he received his undoubtedly proudly-dispatched Bronze Members’ luggage tags this week, they went straight in the bedroom bin. Dear Reader, I was inclined to take a picture of this pitiful sight but it was so shameful that it was consigned to a black bin bag before I could reach for my camera. Anyway, he still has his Silver Membership this week, which meant that we could use the Club Class check-in at Gatwick and avoid the crowds. One poor, unfortunate soul shuffled up shambolicly while we were waiting for the next available Ground Staff (another non gender-specific job title) and announced to anyone who would listen that he had Bronze Tier membership and could he have priority check in? The poor unshaven, badly-dressed, trampy looking cove (he wasn’t doing himself any favours here) was hurriedly despatched with a curt “No.” by the ground staff.

Privilege is precious.

5 responses to “The World’s Favourite Airline

  1. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, ” I adore your writing” and quite frankly could read “you” for hours.

  2. The loss of Silver on BA is a blow that stings bitterly, but it’s still an airline that somehow still reassures – sure it’s a bit shambolic, it costs a bit more than in an ideal world it should, but they’ll still give you a reasonably good G&T, and their cabin crew, when on form, are truly marvellous; all in all, perhaps a lot like the slightly chaotic anarchic UK Danny Boyle tells us we live in.

    If OH is really bemoaning loss of Silver a Priority Pass is a pretty good replacement. Okay in some cases all it does is open up an indifferent Servisair lounge, but some of them are really very nice, and when faced with the choice of their lounge, or the horror of the public spaces in Chennai Anna International, there’s really no choice at all.

  3. Helpful as ever. Thank you, I shall pass that on to him. He’s asleep at the moment. Poor thing inevitably has a cold. :-(

  4. I shall ask for G&T next time. I was slightly rebellious today and asked for lemon in my Highland Spring. A Mediterranean twist, if you will.

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