.. No, it wasn’t me.
Saria sends along this story of flying Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Toronto to Lahore. In coach. And I realize that this story is repeated across airline and flight, worldwide.
Patriotism demands that we fly by PIA, also because no one else does. The airline must be doing fantastic business since all its flights are always fully booked regardless of a date or destination. The reasons routinely given are: School holidays, Haj season, wedding season, summertime vacations, while winter is traditionally a convenient time for expatriates to visit families back home and, at times, even excuses like the excitement generated by a new batch of senators and people rushing back to Pakistan to watch the spectacular oath-taking ceremony. Reports about the airline losing money appear as a clever ploy to wangle money out of the IMF and the naive ‘Friends of Pakistan’. It’s only when you board a plane that you find it half empty.
I get to the airport way earlier than advised with the determination of getting a window seat this time. Once again they’re all gone, reserved by wizards who had not yet made it physically to the check-in counters. I present the ticket putting on an act of being unwell, having bad back, point to my hip joint that needs replacing, and even make up a story of knowing President Zardari personally.
It is a long wait and finally the flight is announced. Passengers with children are asked to come forward. Bunches of ten or more adults with every child make up the front of the line. It is the first time I find out that it takes ten adults to produce one child.
The haughty attitude displayed by the cabin crew is a clear sign of them being government officers with discretionary powers and not mere employees of some commercial organization. One doesn’t ask, but begs for a glass of water.
Come to think of it, sounds like United too…