Sunday, July 09, 2006

Unaccustomed Luxury

June 29 2006
Over the past several years, I have often pampered myself with a business class ticket on the London – Colombo – London leg of my trip, though still flying economy on the Washington – London – Washington leg. This trip, the contrast between the two modes of travel was particularly stark. My Washington – London flight was a last resort due to full bookings, on America’s bankrupt and visibly deteriorating carrier, United Airlines. The chaotic ground service, packed seating, charges for drinks, attempts to economize, and air of cramped slovenliness in the cabin reminded me of TWA and Pan American in their final days. The understaffed crew did their best, I should add, to dole out the minimal services they were permitted to provide, with efficiency and good humor.

In London, the security lines were longer than ever. Transit took more than an a hour. But when I boarded my Sri Lankan Airlines flight (Air Lanka, too, is gone) there was a surprise in store. I was the sole passenger in the eighteen-seat business – first class cabin. I could experience the feelings of a potentate – or of President Bush on Air Force 1, minus Carl Rove whispering in my ear, and other hovering aides.

I must admit it made me feel uneasy. But, hey, I live frugally in Washington and Colombo. I had endured second-class South Asian rail conditions on United Airlines. I had not requested an entire cabin to myself.

I decided to accept these circumstances of unaccustomed luxury as a gift.


Anonymous luxury said...

thanks for post.

8:36 AM  

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