Wednesday, January 06, 2010

birthday bliss (and blunders)

Oh, what a birthday. I decided that it's a rare thing to be flying on one's birthday and that I should just push my luck and ask about possibly getting a free upgrade on my international flight. Now, this isn't my normal style, and I was actually a little nervous doing it. But as I came into the airport, I noticed that "Moon River" was playing over the speakers (always a good sign), and so I took a deep breath and apologetically said to the check-in woman at British Airways, "Um, I'm sure it probably can't happen, but it's my birthday and I was wondering if there's any possibility of an upgrade. (dramatic pause) It's just me travelling." Now, I'm someone who doesn't mind a bit travelling on my own, in fact it's some of my best reading & people watching time. But, I figured being solo certainly helped my chances. The very friendly woman at check-in stopped smiling, said very seriously, "Wait here a minute." and left me trying to look normal while wishing with everything that this would work. She came back, tagged my bag and smiled saying, "Well, we have you in business class. You have a 6 foot bed! Be sure to enjoy the executive lounge near your gate before you fly. Now that's a birthday present!" It sure was! I told her thank you (I think my exact words were, "You're amazing!") and off I went feeling like I'd just won the lottery. I enjoyed a lovely posh Pellegrino with cheese and crackers in the lounge while I read and the same woman came in asking if I was enjoying myself. So nice.

On the plane, they offered us champagne immediately, which I declined, because I was going to have a nice red wine later. I sat back in my reclining chair with a footstool, curled up with a cloth-covered pillow and quilted blanket and thought I could really get used to this. They brought me a menu, I had my choice of 6 wines, and sat back watching Harry Potter and enjoying that first sip of quality red wine. And then the ol' Wilkinson Coordination Curse set in. You see, my family's having some issues lately in this area. A few days ago, my niece poured an entire mug of hot coffee all over our antique coffee table. Then, my Dad managed to (no joke) accidentally pour boiling water on his foot while carrying a pot and then later got hit in the face with a backseat in the car when it was released, hurting his nose and knocking off a piece of his glasses. Then, on my last day for lunch, my sister had freezing ice water spilled all over her jeans. So, it really was only a matter of time until my number was up. After that first decadent sip of wine, it somehow leapt out of my hands and all over my jeans, blanket and (gulp) library book. You can take the girl out of coach, but you can't take coach out of the girl. :) The attendants were all too friendly though, and brought me towels, a new blanket and even pajamas from first class I could wear while they hung up my jeans to dry. Oh, and they very carefully handed me a fresh glass of wine. At one point the attendant was walking through with a bottle of wine offering people refills and she asked if I wanted one and wasn't even able to keep a straight face. I laughed and shook my head. The rest of the flight was amazing: 3 course meal with china, linen napkins and actual cutlery. I had this amazing seared peppered tuna, followed by mahi mahi with potatoes and then a trifle that was a dead ringer for strawberry shortcake. Then I layed my seat all the way flat into a bed and slept soundly (for the first time ever on a flight) for a blissful 5 hours. It was wonderful. Once in London, I had lots of time to kill, so I even treated myself to a little birthday gift of an on-sale top. It looks just like stained glass windows to me, a fitting and chic little thing for a minister to wear!

All in all, maybe the best birthday ever. I even met a fascinating Hindu man on the bus to Belfast who invited me to visit his temple and whose wife is a women's community worker I'd like to get in touch with.

Today's my mom's birthday and so I wish you a "first class" day, Momma! Hope it's perfect. Love you :)

So, that's my birthday story friends. Lessons learned: never underestimate the power of Moon River and a question, show respect for red wine and always talk to people you wind up next to.


BRW said...

It's a perfect day for a birthday epiphany, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. We have had a few calamities lately, haven't we? Don't forget your practice swing with the communion grape juice on your lovely white stole before you hit it out of the park with the full glass of red wine spill event. Love you . . . Mother

Clay and Ashley said...

I was laughing out loud reading that! What IS our family's issue lately? I think I'm buying a lottery ticket, because our luck is bound to change! :) Love you sista! See you in 8 short time for the birthday party!

Watercolor said...

Happy Birthday! I'll have to remember that if I'm ever flying on my birthday.

The Wee Brown-Eyed Girl said...

Your first class flight experience sounds glorious! I also managed to get a first-class flight experience on my birthday once, sadly the flight was only an hour or so long and as it was a Chinese airline, the snacks were a little suspect but the champagne before take off was a nice touch!

Gareth said...

that is a wonderful story Whitney! well done for asking. I'm also a firm believer that it does no harm to ask.
Happy Birthday... sounds like you had a good time back home.

Brian Garrett said...

AWESOME!!! Kudos to you for asking, and to BA for being so generous. I'm glad you had a happy birthday, glad you got outstanding service, and am glad the library didn't hassle you. :)

I've been on many different airlines, with flight attendants whose native tongue is other than English. But the time I had the hardest time understanding the announcements was on a British Airways flight. It was driving me crazy. I knew she was speaking English, but none of the words made sense! LOL