Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flying Into a Time Warp

This is amazing. This is incredible. This is like flying used to be 30 years ago, when the flight was part of the holiday, rather than something to be endured in order to have the holiday. This is US Airways Escort Service to Europe.

Your seat becomes a sort of cubicle without walls. You've got a reading light, a TV screen and a complimentary set of Bose headphones, plus space to store whatever you've brought on board. Two gourmet meals that are better than you'd get in a lot of restaurants. And best of all, the seat goes flat and turns into a bed, so you can sleep.

The staff are warm, friendly and helpful.  No hassle about Xingxing. Smiles and laughter. Oh well, you're
thinking. That's Escort Class. That's what you pay extra for.  Not so!  I had a full-fare First Class ticket on United Airlines last summer, and I was treated like a piece of human garbage.  On the ground and in the air, every single US Airways staff member I encountered was unfailingly helpful, whereas every United Airlines staff member I encountered last summer was surly, nasty and unhelpful. 

People think there's no difference between airlines, but there is!  

When we arrived in Venice, another surprise awaited us. Nobody checked Xingxing's microchip. Nobody even asked to see his papers. My passport was stamped, I collected my suitcase, and followed everyone else through a door into the Arrivals Hall, Xingxing trotting obediently at my heels. Welcome to Italy!

One other thing -- which you may not know about. (I didn't know about it)  In the United States, the TSA opens and inspects certain pieces of luggage, searching for prohibited items. That's okay, I guess.  But here's the thing. If you lock your luggage, TSA breaks open the locks. The notice they leave in your bag says they "sincerely regret having to do this". However, they're not liable for any damage they may do in the process.

My luggage wasn't locked, so there was no damage.  But I wonder. Did they select my bag because it wasn't locked?  Or is it a truly random process?

Anyhow, here we are in Venice.

1 comment:

  1. So otherwise all is well?? Best I can understand, the TSA inspection process is random but sometimes with 'cause.' You can use those little tiny 'padlocks' with the one size fits all key that just keeps your zippers from opening and the TSA doesn't have to break the lock to get in (they too have a little key or even a nail file will work). Tell us all about Venice!