“Twelve kilos more than allowed? And another thirteen of hand luggage? No problem” – says a happy employee of Smile Air at the check-in counter on a sunny Sunday morning.
“However, I do have bad news for you: your reserved seats are already taken by someone else. I apologize for the colleague’s mistake who has just started working here.”
Before I could protest, the happy employee explains:
“But the good news is that the emergency exit is still free for you and for your cute son.” Turning to my son, he says as if he was talking to a baby: “Are you coming home to papa? Were you visiting your granny?”
“Emergency exit? Double legroom? Even better!” – I agree smiling back.
Heading to the gate, it occurred to me that there was no queue for the security checks through the X-Ray channel. Actually there was no one there, apart from the officers themselves.
So, placing the hand luggage on the X-Ray conveyer, I acknowledge the officer that I was not carrying any liquids with me, only a laptop.
“Would you like to see it?” – I ask.
The officer gazes me in the face as if he was just too lazy to do any required job, and says:
“It is all right. You and the boy may pass.”
That’s really paradise! – I think, imagining the chaotic scene with chocolate, spare socks and local newspaper falling on the floor out of my carry-on bag of what the officer has just spared me of!
At Passport Control, I get my Brazilian passport (green as a banana tree leaf) stamped easily. The officer didn’t even look for the country admission stamp!
And later I did not have to wait to use the bathroom, which is right in front of my gate because the cleaning lady was not completing her community service on a slippery floor.
While sitting, waiting for the flight call, I had the luck of finding an ownerless 200 Euros note that was just waiting for me to lay my hands on. As I looked around searching for a drunken or desperate face that just lost the cash, I did not find anybody who could have been eligible for the 200 Euros note.
So, what does a woman do with money in front of a duty free shop? She buys moisturizer, French perfume, lipstick and also Swiss chocolate for the child. At the cashier the young girl packs the goods, reaches for the 200 Euros note, reads my boarding card and also credits few miles into my Frequent Traveller Programme. So far, so good, but soon it would become even better, because instead of 10 Euros change, the cashier hands me 100 Euros by mistake. I am terrible with numbers, so I would only realize it hours later.
Finally the flight is called! Experienced together with non-experienced travellers who think that if they do not run to reach the plane through the covered gangway, they would stay behind, I again look around me. In this case the only ones who overtook by were silent businessmen and a family with well-educated children. In fact, these passengers were neither the kind who clap hands on touchdown nor the kind who stand up to collect their personal belongings while the plane is still taxing.
Inside of the big bird at last, comes a stewardess with a long face to my son and almost shouts:
“Children under 12 are not allowed to occupy the seat at the emergency exit, boy! You will have to sit somewhere else.”
“Wait a minute!” – I scream back with authority. “He is not going anywhere without me! You will have to look for two decent seats otherwise nobody in this plane will have a good night sleep in the next eleven hours! ”
The passengers were terrified and the stewardess too.
“One moment, please. I will see what I can do” – she says with a yellow smile on the face, sticky hair, sweet perfume and pink lipstick staining her teeth.
Minutes later, shortly before take-off, she returns in a hurry, but triumphant.
“Would you please follow me?”
On the way up the narrow aisle, she explains almost whispering:
“All the good seats are gone in Economy, as well as in Business Class. We are therefore upgrading you and your son to first class!”
I don’t have to say how a little luxury in the air can rejuvenate a person!
After landing eleven hours and twenty minutes later, the doors opened and the first class passengers get off the plane first followed by the mob, encountering absolutely no queues at Passport Control.
Again, smiling faces welcomed us and stamped our travel documents.
The result of the quick welcome service is that we could proceed almost immediately to the baggage claim, and guess what! No waiting whatsoever for the conveyer with all the luggage begin to run. Two minutes later I sight of our suitcases and exit the “Nothing to Declare” Channel. Would a limo be waiting for us?
But this channel was packed with passengers, paaassengersss, passssennnnnnnngers, pas-sen…
“Hey! Wake up, woman! Move on… You are next” – says someone behind me in the long queue in front of the check-in counter, where a bearded and bitter woman, employee from Reality Air stared coldly at me.
That’s when I felt the chills running down my spine!
Luciana B. Veit