Wednesday, 20 June 2007

"Flight Fantastic"

Dad and I arrived here in Toronto after midnight last night, safe and sound with the following items:

6 heavy suitcases

one (falling apart) carseat

2 pushchairs

five pieces of cabin luggage

one infant

one toddler.

For nearly eight hours we were held aloft in a rickety, ancient, creaking boeing 767, manned by the least attractive, oldest, bitchiest stewardesses known to man. Every last one of them were hovering menacingly around menopause, and had the temperaments to match.

But let's discuss the plane first. It was a shambles…falling apart at the seams. Quite literally. Half an hour into the flight, a whole ceiling panel in first class tore off and had to be hidden surreptiously behind some seats by a strangely nonplussed stewardess – but we had front row seats to this rather alarming display, given that we were sitting in the bulkhead at the front of the plane.

Our unease surfaced when Dad asked a rather severe looking woman with a long ratty ponytail and shifty eyes for a bassinet seat for Noah. She glared daggers at him and snarled "Just listen to the safety announcement!" before flashing a scary fake grimace at me and returning her attention to the rest of the sorry plane. P>Things got even worse when a fellow passenger attempted to use one of the two washrooms available and a steely stewardess past her prime came up and grabbed his arm sharply and hissed, "This bathroom is for first class passengers only! Use the other one." (This despite there being a huge queue for one bathroom being shared by a few hundred passengers and the other one remaining empty for most of the flight as there were only ten or so odd passengers in first class!

The first hint that we'd boarded a 'Twilight Zone' freaky flight should have been the TINY, ripped seats and lack of even basic amenities. The 'on-flight entertainment' was not displayed on either seat back screens or big screens at the front. Rather a crackly, intelligible soundsystem (couldn't even make out what the pilot was saying the few times he tried to communicate to the plane at large) and a dirty white piece of wood nailed haphazardly to the front of the plane had to make do.

The food was beyond disgusting with 'dessert' being a no-name plastic container of something resembling congealed fat, but luckily the constant heaving and creaking of the aircraft was enough to distract all of us from anything as mundane as eating. After being told that Noah was 'too big' for a sky cot (they wouldn't even discuss it) Dad and I surmised that the aircraft either didn't have one, or was unable to utilise one as it looked like the hooks on the wall had busted and wouldn't have supported a coat-hanger.

Fifteen minutes after take-off, a sleepy little Egg suddenly turned to me, croaked "Mama" and promptly vomited four or five times into his lap, onto Dad and onto an unassuming Bacon. Those of you who know me know that I rarely manage to remember to pack extra nappies or wipes when leaving the house – despite having two kiddies untrained as of yet. So if you think that I thought to bring an extra outfit for Egg you are wrong – no such luck. Poor little guy had to survive eight hours of sitting in a vomit-encrusted shirt and wrapped up in blankets and my pashmina just so he wouldn't freeze to death in the arctic-cold air.

Upon leaving the plane there was no love lost between the nasty crew and ourselves. Indeed it was a solemn bunch who exited 'the worst flight ever' quickly and dejectedly. As we all filed by the horrid stewardesses one by one, they didn't even bother to smile and issue the customary departuring inanities of 'see you again' and 'thanks for flying with us'...

It was crystal clear that they hated us and we hated them. The only thing that brought me comfort was imagining one of them coming across the vomit-soaked blanket buried under Egg's seat. Good riddance.

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