If there is ever a reason not to leave the UAE it would be that we are totally spoiled to luxury airline travel. It’s like an unfiltered Camel cigarette. It’s powerfully addictive. One flight and you are hooked — and sadly, so are your children. Remember when American Airlines would pass out little toy airplanes to the kids on board the flight and their faces lit up like a Christmas tree? Not anymore of course, because they are broker than Cooter Brown but at the time we thought it was a really, really big thing. Then imagine the first time my little Mini Me boarded an Etihad business class flight. It was like the Christmas of his dreams — his eyes were the size of saucers as if he were staring at Santa Claus AND his eight tiny reindeer. The personal seating pods, the stylish decor, the supermodel flight hostesses with impeccable British-trained manners, and the sound the seat makes as your bottom hits the well-fluffed cushion. I can almost envision Robin Leach sitting next to me giving me a big thumbs up.
I seriously cannot imagine life without a UAE airline at my disposal. While living in the UAE, I secretly hope that nobody dies, gets married, has a baby, graduates or does anything else monumental outside of the summer months or I will need to re-evaluate the emotional proximity of our relationship. For many expats, yearly business class tickets are part of the employment package and typically covers either Christmas or summer holidays so personally coughing up the cash for a business class ticket for half-way around the world can be like (cough, cough) buying one of those small Indian compact cars….and once you go business class — you ain’t going back. Especially when home is a 14 hour flight.
Not to mention, I am seriously addicted to seeing the red lipstick on the mouth of my super classy flight hostess as she says, almost in dramatic slow-motion, Can — I —get— you —a —drink? Well, yes, you absolutely can get me a drink! I will take a flute of your finest so I can snap an obligatory boasting pic of me clinking my champagne glass with a filtered view of my nuts in a china bowl in the background. I’ll then upload it to every social media outlet #knowntomankind as the soundtrack to Barry Mannilow’s Looks Like We Made It plays in my head. Mini, please clink this glass for Mommy since Daddy has to work to afford our luxuries. Let’s be a supportive family and make a toast —to Daddy, the financial engine of this family. Well done dear! Now let’s eat a late dinner, watch a foreign film, pop an Advil PM, and then tell the flight attendant that it is night-night time. See you in New York, Chicago, Houston, or L.A…where we will catch our next flight to our hometown.
On the Poop Plane.
Holy smoke it’s just like I boarded the Detroit of airline travel. It is totally surreal. It’s like a nuclear bomb went off and scorched all of the good stuff leaving behind a smoldering heap of metal. I feel like I am in a Wes Craven film and should be running scared for my life. The only thing me and this airplane have in common is that we were born in the same year. How the heck is it legal to fly on this pile of scrap? The seat looks like it was taken from my father’s 1960 Chevy Impala — after he totaled it. Was the inspector drunk or paid handsomely to overlook the gaping holes in the side of the plane? I can still smell the burning rubber from the previous flight and the lingering mix of Burger King onion rings and the distinct odor of communal flatulence that angrily brews at 30,000 feet. I stare at the other passengers as if they are from another planet. A planet of people who seem to be unfazed by the fact that airline travel in the USA has become DISGUSTING.
Gina, are those trash bags stuffed in the cracks of the exit door? and my response is Yes, that is exactly what it is. Why are there trash bags stuffed in the exit door of the airplane? I have no idea. Mom, this plane smells like POOP!, Mini says to me. Yes, the plane smells like poo and there are trash bags stuffed in the emergency door to seal the exterior from the interior. This is definitely not what we are used to seeing on a plane and other American travelers shouldn’t be okay with this either. Especially with the price consumers pay for airline tickets. Of the seven flights that I have taken during this summer holiday, so far only two were on planes that didn’t appear to be in some serious state of disrepair and those flights were on Delta Airlines.
This blog post goes beyond a humor piece about being spoiled on luxury travel and provides a little insight into how the rest of the world travels vs. the terrible conditions of the American air travel experience. And unfortunately, if you have never flown on a plane from another country you may not be aware of just how terrible U.S travel has become. Over the past few months there have been tense disagreements between the Middle East carriers Qatar, Emirates and Etihad with the American carriers Delta, American and United over flights into the USA from European destinations. At one time, Middle Eastern carriers were only flying round trip routes from their respective countries but with the popularity of these carriers growing they are now operating in many European countries and this is a threat to the US carriers whose standards have continued to fall since the height of sophisticated U.S. airline travel during the Sinatra years. Therefore, U.S. carriers are losing significant market shares to airlines that provide more comfortable accommodations for the same price or less. Sadly, American airline travelers may not realize that they have become a nation of people on an air bus instead of on an airplane.
Do we always fly business class? Of course not, we couldn’t afford it. When we vacation we typically fly economy and fly business class for only very long flights but even economy flights are far superior to equivalent American carriers. Also, many expats spend their week in a plane flying from one business meeting to another creating a stockpile of airline miles that can be used for vacations as well. So to give the impression that expats are flying luxury travel everywhere we go isn’t accurate but to know an expat is to understand that we do travel — a lot. So we know airplanes and airlines very well. As for U.S travel, I have no idea what will happen to the American airline industry but the heyday of the PanAm days are definitely over and a new era has been ushered in with the industry leaders such as the Middle Eastern, the British, the Asian, and the NZ/Australian carriers. Sadly, not one single US airline is in the top 20 airlines in the world. Unfortunately, the classy days of US air travel are gone and have been replaced with the airline equivalent of fast food.
Aside from Delta airlines and maybe a handful of others that I have not had the opportunity to fly during this trip, it almost appears as if they have scrapped the bottom of the barrel. My flight aboard American Envoy/ US Airways 3196 was not only disgusting but unsafe. I have never before felt like the plane was going to fall apart around me until I boarded this flight — and that is very frightening whenever you are traveling alone without your husband with children in tow. The very sad thing about this is most Americans do not realize just how terrible the situation has become because they probably have not traveled on anything but domestic US flights. So before you start screaming Commie! at me, trust me when I say, for the amount of money you are paying you deserve better.
The lovely people in the slide show below do not endorse my unhappy views on US air travel, but have leant their smiling faces and their travel pics to show you something almost extinct in today’s world — happy travelers. If you hate my views don’t blame them. If you love my views then, well, we are all friends. I have also included some stock photos of airlines around the world for you to see. Bon voyage!
These views are my own. I have not received anything from the airlines in exchange for this post; although I should say, I probably wouldn’t turn down a flight on an A380 — in the Residence — preferably. In exchange I would pose like Nicole and drink champagne while a fan blows my curls in a really unnatural Hollywood way, although common for A-list people. I also promise to have a look of pleasure on my face as if nothing in my life has matched this moment while I am dropping chocolate dipped strawberries in my mouth through my artificially whitened teeth. Although, no cosmetic dentist has given me anything in exchange for this mention, if they wanted to….I may not say no. Just a quick disclosure to clarify my policy, which at this time is a little loosey-goosey cause I am a true sucker for fun and free stuff. And there is really nothing that I love more than showing you all of the terrific things to do in the UAE!
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