Thursday, July 27, 2006


Last week it was my hope and dream that Air France would upgrade my ticket at the airport, lifting me out of the depths of steerage and placing me in the comfort of business class. I got to the airport early and found out they might indeed need my seat for the early flight.

When they called for boarding a Saudi woman jumped up and cut in front of me, handing the attendant 11 passports for her rather large family and their Philippine slave girl. Additional time was wasted as various family members wandered back and forth between the jetway and waiting area while the kids both played and fought. The staff finally matched tickets and passports to passengers and the rest of the 140 passengers were able to board, starting with me.

As I walked down the jetway the attendant came running, yelling "Mister Canine! Mister Canine!". She grabbed my boarding pass and scribbled a new seat number. "You've been upgraded," she said, beaming.

That'll teach me.

Between Paris and Munich, AF usually fly their old 737s with the 3x3 configuration of you-must-be-under-3'7"-tall-to-fit-comfortably-in-these-seats. It's only a couple hours total; no big deal. I needed to be able to work and had managed to book myself in the front row aisle of cattle class, 7D.

The thing about these 737s is that the business seats are the same as the cattle class. They magic as many business rows as they need with movable partitions although in the first three rows the middle seats can fold down into table-like things for the convenience of the elite who are nevertheless still crammed like sardines just like the peasants a few rows further back.

The only real difference in these planes is that first class get treated better: they get a free drink while the plane waits to push back and taxi to the runway and they get better food.

Air France isn't satisfied having just two classes. Nosiree, they have four: L'Espace Premier which is first class, L'Espace Affaires, or what we all call "business", and then (like BA), two versions of steerage which (unlike BA) are the same damned thing. The only difference is that Tempo Challenge offers some bonus miles and free reservation changes which are rather useless when you're already boarding the plane. The only other difference is that Tempo Challenge is in front of Tempo.

My seat had been changed to 4B. A middle seat. I saw that 7D was occupied by one of the Saudi sprog.

Worse, seats 4A and 4C were already filled with big guys whose shoulders extended into 4B's airspace.

I talked to the steward and explained the problem. I'd have to wait until all the passengers were on board. I sat in 3D ("business") and waited, even refusing the the champagne and orange juice offered to the rest of the "business class" people in an attempt to show that I only wanted the seat, not the amenities. It's the same goddamned seat as the other 800 in the plane: narrow and uncomfortable.

The plane was full, save for 4B and 3D. The steward talked to the purser who scowled and came over to me.

"You cannot sit 'ere. Eet ees beezness class. You must go to your seat zair."
"But I need to work. I didn't ask for an upgrade. I didn't want an "upgrade". It's not an "upgrade" when the seat is worse than the one I paid for."
"But you 'ave an upgrade! You are een Tempo Shall-ange! You should be 'appy!"
"I'm not happy. I need to work. I can't move between those guys. I don't want any special food or drinks. I just want to sit on the aisle so that I can type."
"You cannot do zees! Eet ees a beezness seat!"
"It's the same seat as the others," I continued to plead. "I'm not even getting miles and I don't want extras. All I'm asking is to be able to work."
"You 'ave ze upgrade and you must take your seat or you must leave ze plane."
"But then I'd miss my connection."
"We do not 'ave to continue your journey eef you refuse to seet."

The fucker on the left had his iPod jacked up to 13 and dickless on the right kept drooling in his sleep. I sat there bent 20° at the waist in order to breathe. The "upgrade" food was also fancier, meaning "worse". There was less food than the standard cheese sandwich the peons seated in the un-Challenged "Tempo" were served but it was presented very prettily. I knew I should've had the overpriced Weißwurst Frühstück at the airport.

A day later as I logged into the network, my corporate software was automatically upgraded. My firewall couldn't block it because it was done at the machine's next reboot, overriding the firewall service.

PaintShop Pro was a nice, down-and-dirty graphics program before JASC decided to be PhotoShop Junior. You can't get version 3 anymore. When I want Photoshop, I'll use Adobe's software. I don't want to use Photoshop for a quick little graphic hack, but because of upgrades, you can't get PSP3 anymore.

I can no longer do a lot of internal work the easy way anymore. We now have a "richer" app suite, which means that instead of, say, firing off a quick note with a diagram to someone, I have to connect to a central server, log in with full credentials, jump through half a dozen screens, then recreate the note and whiteboard share so that it can be sent to someone whose address I already know but which I now have to search through screens of departments and positions to get to in order to click on it and then confirm that I want the message sent. And then I get to confirm it again.

The only thing worse than an automatic upgrade is a fuckwit who gives me one without asking first.

x-posted from HuSi where there's a poll.


Anonymous Anonymous pulled out a crayon and scribbled:

I had a similar aweful experience with an Air France layover in Paris. Worst airline experience of my life. I don't speak French and they had quite a laugh with each other as they came up with as many excuses as possible for why they wouldn't let me on a flight leaving in an hour with plenty of seats (we had just barely missed our original connection, in part thanks to their ineptitude). I've blocked out just how many times they lied over the course of the 4 hours in hell. Even after a manager we pleaded with took pity and let us on, the bitches who had, well, been bitches tried to intervene and explain to him why we shouldn't be allowed on. We left behind others in the same situation only to see many empty seats on the plane when it took off.

Your posts are hilarious and I check the site nearly every day (or multiple times if it's a bad day) to look for your stories to make me laugh and feel better. Keep it up and tell more people about it.

04 August, 2006 01:08  

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