Sunday, December 8, 2019

A tale of two Britneys

I really don't like being called "Sir". It's often followed by "you've had far too much to drink, please leave". But in most customer service situations there's no other option for a service provider to address a customer. If I walk into a bar (quite a regular occurrence I know) but I'm not a regular what else is the bar tender going to call me?

But on airlines it's different. There's a list of passengers provided to flight attendants before each flight and I can work out within a couple of minutes whether I'm going to get decent service - it's whether they call me Sir or by my name. If an FA calls me Mr C or even A (yes my initials are AC) within 2 interactions I know I'm going to get good service - I'm not actually fussy though, in America there's not a lot of formality involved so it's quite common for my first name to be used but on European airlines (especially British Airways which I predominantly use) I'm generally used to Mr C. It basically shows that someone has prepared ahead and is going the extra mile for their customer - they've taken the time to look at the manifest and remember passengers' names so they can provide a more personalised service. I like it - I probably take more than 100 flights a year so it's actually quite a large part of my life. I also take time to remember an FA's name so I can personally address him or her so there is a little 2 way interaction involved as well. I'd prefer to say "thank you Sheila" rather than just a platitude such as "love", "sweetie" or "dear".

So anyway - on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I got into a weird situation. I'd just boarded a BA flight to NY and the FA looks at my boarding pass and says "Hello Mr C - welcome aboard. My colleague Britney will take you to your seat" this is standard practice on BA as we were travelling in the pointy end (as I like to call the seats that don't involve me spending 7 hours sitting with my knees tucked round my ears). And I say we because I was travelling with Mrs AC who had boarded immediately ahead of me and had been escorted to her seat by another FA.

The FA hands me my phone back (it's the 21st century - paper boarding cards are the past) and says to her colleague "This is Mr C - he's in seat 2K"

"Hello A" her colleague says. This is odd now - I'm so rarely called A on BA flights. "Long time no see, I saw your name on the manifest and thought it might be you".

I had a thing with Britney - it was a few years ago and I met her on another flight (coincidentally to Las Vegas) and she was my FA. We've not seen each other for a couple of years but we parted amicably (BA probably has thousands of FAs and I don't recall seeing the same crew twice but that may be down to the amount of booze I normally consume on long haul flights). Britney is a fun girl and loves her job - which in my case involves plying me with booze - funny that I liked her immediately when we first met.

You might be thinking that this is awkward - I'm with Mrs AC and I've got a former flame serving us both drinks for the next 7 hours. To me it's not - firstly Mrs AC is not the jealous type (I've got more to worry about given that I'm 12 years older and have a lot more wear and tear on me than her), secondly we actually tell each other everything (that the other one actually asks anyway) - I'm too daft to remember back stories so I've always worked on the basis that honesty is the best policy and thirdly we only had a bit of a thing (rather than a full blown relationship) and we parted on decent terms. If it had involved the original ex Mrs AC (my cost centres' mother) then I would have feigned a heart attack to get me off the plane, actually plummeting in flames to a certain death would have been better than spending 7 hours enclosed in a metal tube with her, even if booze was included. But I know that I've got no bad blood with Britney and it's going to be a good flight.

She brings me a glass of champagne (BA serves very good champagne) and tells me to press the call button whenever I want anything (I've never actually used this - in 6 years of flying 250,000 miles a year I still can't bring myself to do it. It's just not British to do it). I tell her that the lady in the seat behind me is with me and to look after her as well - she promises that she will.

We've already had a late lunch in the lounge along with a few glasses of champagne (I'm actually not a big fan of the stuff as cheap champagne is just a waste of money whereas what BA serve in their lounge and onboard is very good and retails for $140 a bottle) and I've just watched my football team play out a 2-2 draw with Arsenal so all I want to do now is drink. The flight time is a bit weird being that it's a late afternoon departure and arriving in NY in the early evening - in order to alleviate jet lag I'm trying to not sleep at all so that when we land we can head straight into the city then head to bed at a normal time having had a longer than usual day due to the 5 hour time difference.

So I do something I'd never normally do - I bought a wifi pass for the flight. Now I'd usually just download any material I need to work on prior to the flight or just watch a couple of movies but today I want to watch the 49ers play. It's been a rarity over the last 20 or so years that they've actually been any good so watching a decent 49ers in a potential superbowl match up against the Ravens was guaranteed to keep me awake for the flight. So to kill a few hours I watched the game and cheered along with every play (Mrs AC actually admonished me when I cheered too loudly when Mostart scored in Q2). But all the while I'd been watching, Britney had been plying me with champagne. And every time she's come down to refill my glass we'd had a chat and a giggle so the couple of hours passed in no time at all.

After the game I had something to eat (I sat with Mrs AC for this so we actually spent some time together) and a couple of glasses of wine and in no time at all we're in NY - there's no queue at CBP and Mrs AC has finally come round to my travelling routine of hand baggage only (this actually means she's started leaving more stuff at mine so maybe I should be more worried about that?) so we're in a cab back to Manhattan around 8pm (I don't usually stay with her but her room mate is away this week).

It's during the cab back to her place that she asks about Britney - she'd noticed that she'd not called me Mr C but rather used my first name and that she'd only ever been called Miss X. I said it's because we used to know each other and it would have been awkward for both of us to be called Mr C.

"Aaah. Britney - you've told me about her. I thought she worked in Vegas though" Mrs AC tells me. "Did I? If it's someone called Britney from Vegas it's someone who worked in a casino" I reply. I've told her about a different Britney (who did work in a Vegas casino and was even more intent on plying me with booze than our aforementioned Britney). So I tell her about our short lived friendship and that it actually coincided with Vegas Britney - I was actually seeing two girls at the same time and they both happened to be called Britney.

"You never told me about the tale of two Britneys" replies Mrs AC "I never thought you had it in you". Now I don't have Mrs AC down as a fan of Dickens so I'm sure it was accidental - if so she won't understand any of my puns about our Christmas Carol plans that she'll play blackjack and Twist next time we're in Vegas together. Either that or she's got great expectations of our next year together. Either way I'm too tired, too jet lagged (I've been across 13 time zones in the last 4 days) and too drunk to respond. And I don't want to have to rely on telling her about our mutual friend to amuse her. So by the time we arrive back at her place all I want to do is sleep - no more drunken shenanigans planned as I'm working all week although we had hockey tickets for Monday and Friday nights then I'm back to the U.K. on Saturday for the rest of the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment