I’m checking in at the Qatar desk for my flights to London, it’s my first economy long-haul flight in decades. I’m wearing a jacket and a big friendly smile and about to ask if I can buy an upgrade but before I do the staff member says.
“Mr. Topping, we are upgrading you free of charge on the first leg of your trip. The second leg is down to the staff at Doha.”
The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 295:“Always wear a jacket when flying economy, it’s a great move to getting a free upgrade.”
Sadly, I don’t get an upgrade on the second leg of the journey.
So, I’m sitting in economy on a Qatar flight to London. Two jumbo-size people in tracksuits sit next to me. The lady, (I think it was a lady) is obese, she sits in the seat next to me overhanging the seat by 6 inches. God steps in, they are in the wrong seats and they have to move.
More people get on the flight and I get the loud kid behind. Worse to come, it’s a kicker and batters my seat back which is getting a thumping. I’m about to turn and give the parents some parental guidance in a short sentence to regain control of the overly aggressive child. Then a slither of hope and distraction. A smartly dressed lady sits next to me and then what I assume is her teenage daughter sits next to her.
The Whinging Pomes brain kicks in and a sixth sense tells me that they must be from Nepal. So, I ask them and they are.
Three degrees of separation. Christakis and Fowler established the diverse phenomena that we are all three degrees away from being linked to a perfect stranger by someone we know. The more we chat the more we establish common people we know and places in Nepal.
The trip just improved. The kid behind has fallen asleep and the red wine arrives, it’s not Shiraz but Merlot my least favourite red grape. A pack of prawn sandwiches also arrives.
During all this time I’m watching a soppy movie, with a well-known Indian actress and lots of WhatsApp message. The stewardess comes over and welcomes me, “Mr. Topping welcome to our flight, as a frequent traveler with us and a gold card holder. blah blah blah ….”
This is it; I’m thinking, the late but much-deserved upgrade is about to take place. She continues;
“Welcome to the flight can I take your jacket?”
My jacket gets the upgrade to business but not me.
My return two flights are both full so no upgrades but lots of crew pampering (gold card) in economy. The two girls sitting next to me are on their maiden flight, at eighteen years of age. Given their chatter and naivety, they ask how much wine is from the drinks trolley and they think the snack is great.
The mischievous Whinging Pome smoothly says, “Are you ladies from Essex”
Their response is quite quick and they don’t look as if they know where Essex is.
“No Surrey actually, anyway who are you and why are you getting so much attention from the stewardess”.
I’ll give my response in the following sequence of Toppings Air Travels.