Sunday, 30 August 2009

A slice of his life

I've just got back from a trip with my husband to the USA. It's the first time I've been able to go along with him since we got here. His previous airline often had him working away from base, but he generally flew short-haul so he never stayed anywhere for me to go along with him - and even if I did want to, staff travel was a nightmare!

This, however, was a completely different matter. When I fly on staff travel with this airline I realise the gulf there is between his current employer and his previous one - it's like they're from completely different worlds! First and foremost, this airline actually has a proper ID90 system with inter-airline agreements, and a route-network across the world - so we can go almost anywhere so cheaply. Amazing. Secondly, the airline takes customer service REALLY SERIOUSLY. Every passenger I've spoken to raves about his airline. Contrast this to his previous airline where we had standbys that were worthless because we could never get on, limited destinations and the passenger reviews online could make you cry. Anyhow, I digress...

The trip was fantastic. Getting on was a close run thing - there are weight restrictions on long-haul flights from here in the summer because it's so hot (over 45c most days). Luckily, though, the Captain was determined to get me on and lo and behold I was seated in Business Class! Three other staff passengers didn't get on, so I felt extremely lucky.

When I'd taken my seat on board my husband came into the cabin to check on me, and I was so proud to be seen with him. All the other passengers were peering at us, wondering how on earth I knew the pilot! I know that other pilot's wives will have had this feeling and will know exactly what I'm talking about!

When we arrived in the US I went through the normal security channels, but when I came out I discovered that all four pilots were waiting for me, bless them! They then took me to the crew shuttle and I travelled with the crew to their hotel, which was in a lovely town, right in the middle of things.

We packed a lot in while we were there. We met one of my husband's friends for dinner and then met one of my friends in town the next day, and she gave us a guided tour. It was so surreal to actually be there, but so fantastic. We were knackered and slightly sunburned after a day walking around in the sun, but it was brilliant.

That night we got a couple of hours kip before we had to head to the airport for the return flight.

This time the staff travel situation was a little easier; the man behind the desk confirmed me in economy on an exit row, and said that they might upgrade me at the gate if they had space. Pleased I was at least going to get on the flight, I sat down and waited for my husband, who was about 30 minutes behind me in the crew bus.

When he arrived he took me over with him to the crew baggage screening area, and we waited there until the crew were ready to go through security. It was at this point that I felt I should probably leave them and go through the normal passenger channel, not wanting to take advantage too much of my relationship with my husband. So, I left the crew and began to make my way through the crowds, when the airline's representative who was escorting the crew called out "you can come with us!".

So it was that I walked through the airport with four pilots and 16 perfect looking cabin crew, and was taken with them through the crew security channel ("she's with us!") and on the bus to the gate. When I reached the gate my husband boarded the aircraft while I went to see the gate agent to see if they were able to upgrade me.

They told me that it was still too early to tell, so I left my boarding pass with them and went off for a wander in the terminal. I bought a book at Borders and was just buying a bottle of water in a cafe when the gate agent came up to me and said "here is your business boarding pass"!) Bless him, he'd actually come to find me to give me my pass! It was a brilliant bit of customer service. I was so surprised and impressed.

On the flight back I was in the very front row of the aircraft, and had a seat free next to me. I managed to get quite a lot of sleep in the lovely lie-flat bed (a revolution for me in air travel! I can never normally sleep on planes!) I also managed to see my husband a couple of times when he came down from the rest area. By this point all the crew knew who I was, and I truly did feel extremely spoilt.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. It did feel totally surreal flying half-way across the world for the weekend, but it was a fantastic experience I'll never forget. I'm just itching to do it again...

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like quite the adventure. :-D

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  2. Let me know if you ever jet set to Orlando!

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  3. Thank you for reminding me of something I'd forgotten of late; the extreme pride and joy of having my husband (the pilot) come into the cabin to see me pre-flight. Due to loads and family constraints, I haven't had the pleasure of flying with my guy in some months, and I'd forgotten that feeling. Thank you for taking me there.

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  4. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life through your blog. Sounds like a great flying experience. I think they treated you just as you deserve as the wife of a pilot! It must've felt great to have your pilot come out and check on you for all to see. You'll have to fly with him again soon. J (nursingapilot.blogspot.com)

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  5. Sounds like a staff travel trip made in heaven!!

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