Do I Count as a Jet-setter Yet?
I have been on fifteen airplanes from seven different airlines in as many months. Many of these have been domestic flights within China, and several have been international flights. The days of excitement and anticipation of boarding a plane, possibly getting a chance to meet the captain and see the cockpit (though in fairness, it was 9/11 that took that anticipation away from me), and even the anticipation of the chicken-or-beef meal gamble, have all long since faded. Flying now is like taking the subway, except you don’t have to fight for a seat. All of my recent air travel has taught me one crucial lesson, however–American-run airlines, at the very least United Airlines, are more outdated than all but the Wright Brothers’ Wright Flyer.
I have flown on six United flights, three of them across the Pacific. The jumpers from LAX to SFO don’t really even have flight attendants; they just have passengers who are wearing clothing that must be very coincidentally matching with a select few other passengers, who happen to be standing in the aisles while begrudgingly fooling around with the “safety” gear before take-off. The international flights are not much better. For some reason United sees pertinent to swap the normal entertainment of an in-flight movie for the more cost-effective live comedy consisting of a complete language barrier between American attendants and Chinese passengers. I have had a grand total of two Mandarin-speaking flight attendants on the three trans-Pacific United Boeing 747 flights I have been on, and both of those two flight attendants were on the same flight. Technically, with all of the translation I have done for United attendants, I almost deserve to be counted as an attendant–I want those union benefits! At the very lease, it has scored me an extra tray or two of what might have been donated to soup kitchens back in the Chicago meatpacking days in “The Jungle”. I am stunned at what United allows to be served on their flights. I grew up surrounded by the media coverage of airline troubles, and took that initial drop in quality in stride. Nowadays, airlines are doing significantly better. Why is it then, that I as a taxpayer spend more money on convict’s meatloaf than United spends on mine? I distinctly remember as a child looking forward to choosing the chicken or the beef, knowing that at lest one of my parents would complain enough about the quality that I would get two delicious three course meals from AirChefs. It has since become a custom of mine to just ask them for whatever they have more of, because I am pretty sure it is the same thing under than tinfoil anyway.
Why the long diatribe about the ubiquitous knowledge that airplane food sucks? To underscore my next point. I am writing this while sitting on Aeroflot Russian Airlines flight 572 in a seat that has more inches of leg room FOR FREE, so go eat shit for charging me $265 for that, United. This was a flight that I was at first very apprehensive of taking. While I was pleasantly surprised at the hospitality, and more importantly the food quality, of domestic flights in China, I had heard some very lackluster reviews of Aeroflot, reviews that sounded like Aeroflot was still run under a Communist regime. Once again it is my American predisposition (read: ignorance) that has set me up for a pleasant surprise.
I just had crab for lunch. Above is a picture of some Chinese guy’s crab–I devoured mine too quickly to take a picture. Yes, it was a small morsel of crab, and it might have been fake, but if it was fake it was a delicious fake, and either way it doesn’t even compare to the compost that they serve as salad on United. They also included a slice of roast beef, just in case you are not impressed enough.
I even got an AMAZING cake for dessert, something I would have paid for in America, and a world and a half away from the two desiccated raspberry cookies United gave me.
They even have a selection of 10+ movies that you can choose to watch on your own personal LCD screen whenever you decided to start the movie, along with games and cartoons and TV shows.
Gratuitously long story short–United should by rights be out of business.