Monday, September 05, 2005

Forrest Gump visits the Terminal

On the BBC over the last week they've been giving anniversaries for events from this week and I had reminders of how I got the nickname Forrest Gump with my friends in Japan. Everytime I went anywhere something happened. A note on Princess Di's death and funeral and another on the Swiss Air crash off Nova Scotia and I was able to say, "I was there for that. I was there for that." For a while earlier in August, back when W was rattling his sabre over Iran's nukes rather than trying to convince the world that he really cares about the "good folks of New Orleans" and that Katrina totally caught him by surprise, I wondered if I would be able to say "I was there when it happened" about this trip. Fortunately everything went well and all that I have to report from Iran is that the people are amazingly warm and generous, even though there is every chance that I have much more than they do.

I'm also happy to report that an airplane seat has never, ever felt so comfortable. This evening started off with a bit of chagrin when the driver called to say he would be along around 11pm instead 10 because there would be plenty of time to get on my plane. I managed to negotiate him into coming at 10:45. I arrived at a decent hour and got a decent spot on the waiting list, or so I thought. Higher levelled first class and business passengers with their gold or platinum or whatever coloured membership cards apparently bumped me down on a regular basis and by the time things kicked into gear I was 8th on the list. Fortunately, word was gonig around that Tehran traffic, yes even at 2:30am was proving notorious and that people were going to get bumped off the flight.

I bonded with a few others on the waiting list and we exchanged stories about past experiences, destinations and the strategies required to ensure one's spot on the plane. Eventually there was a bit of a scramble at the counter to get tickets for the last few seats. I got my ticket stamped by the supervisor and took my place in line to get my boarding pass and check my luggage. Just when I was about to get the pass, the supervisor, the same man who stamped my ticket to go not 30 seconds earlier, told me, "Full."


My chaperone had managed to get into the waiting area and tried to make things a bit more flexible and see if there was some way to accommodate me on the flight but again and again the answer was, "Full." Who is the star in this alliance?!

I finally lost it and let the supervisor know that he made a mistake. He replied that I was too slow getting into line for my boarding pass. Ohhh, Lufthansa plays musical chairs to determine who flies with them. I see. I told him again that it was his mistake not mine and that he ought to admit this. My chaperone wanted to shoot me before I said much more I'm sure. After questioning my own passivity over the last few weeks I felt I had to make a point, at least to myself and I gave him both barrels. Having let that out of my system I was ready to pencil in four more days in Tehran and a Friday departure, unless the supervisor was still spiteful on Friday night and decided that I could not fly until Krakovia was finally recognized as a nation. I settled down and the hope was held out for me that I just might, might get on the flight to Munich and make a connection from there to Frankfurt in time for my scheduled flight to Vancouver. After a steady hour of vigilant mediation and translating, my chaperone passed on the word that the supervisor admitted I was right and that his staff put people on the flight without telling him the numbers.

"I knew I was right."


In the end the supervisor got me on the Munich flight and I happily boarded the plane and settled into the economy class seat to begin the journey home. Before the plane took off one of the flight attendants came to my seat and asked for my boarding pass. For a moment I thought there was a 50-50 chance that I would moan "Not again."

"You've been upgraded to business class."