It’s Nice Being Pampered By An Airline
It doesn’t happen often. I’m from a fairly simple background, more than modest but less than lavish. We had a nice house but not a mansion, a push lawnmower not a riding one, the Oldsmobile 88 and not the Ninety-Eight.
So on the occasional times I get pampered, it’s quite nice.
And I was pampered by Swiss Air/
What’s noteworthy about this is that I was not anything special, was not treated any differently than any other passenger. In fact, I was flying for free. A non-rev, as the industry calls it, which usually means keep your mouth shut and try not to get noticed. Paying customers are what counts, the airlines reason.
Well, not with Swiss Air. I was flying from Los Angeles to Zurich on a press trip organized by Tourism Switzerland. The outbound flight was business class, which was obviously extraordinary. I recalled that Swiss Air was always the favorite carrier of a former boss. Andrew Craig was CEO of the Indy Car racing series CART (I was part of the organization’s public relations team) and he always bragged about Swiss Air.
Now, I was experiencing it myself.
The thing that impressed me most was not business class but the return flight when I was in coach. I had managed to score two side-by-side seats, so I had both the window and the aisle. (I was rescued from my assigned seat by a sympathetic flight attendant who allowed me to relocate after a somewhat mysterious character, an elderly man with long fingers and longer fingernails and skin so pale it made milk look dark took the original seat next to me).
Okay, nothing too unusual there, other than the fact that she actually helped me relocate.
The real pampering came later. Within minutes of taking off, another flight attendant came around with hot towels. Then someone else followed with a tray of snacks. And right after that was a cart of cocktails. Yeah! Gotta have cocktails on a long flight over the pond.
Thinking I was actually in some kind of “executive coach” class (a phrase American-based carriers use as a marketing tool but really doesn’t amount to anything) I asked the flight attendant with the drink cart how much it costs for all these goodies.
“Nothing,” he said in that matter-of-fact manner of the Swiss. “It’s part of your ticket.”
“Even the cocktails,” I pressed.
“Even the cocktails. Everything is included with Swiss Air.”
Well heck yeah! I asked for a bottle of wine.
“Here,” the flight attendant said. “Take two. I’ll be back later to give you more.”
And so it was that I happily traveled back from Zurich to L.A. I was supplied an ample quantity of wine, plus food, snacks and a hot towel as we prepared to land.
The flight attendants were like waiters and waitresses in an upscale restaurant. Every time the wine got even close to empty, they were right there back with more. They appeared seemingly out of nowhere and did it so expertly and so subtly, I barely noticed them. How could they be possibly be taking care of all the other passengers with such attention, I wondered.
I half expected them to meet me at baggage claim and carry my luggage out to the taxi.
Yes, it’s very nice to be pampered on occasion.