"I can't believe they operate such prehistoric planes on transatlantic flights" I remarked to my seatmate as I settled into my aisle seat. All because there was no monitor for every seat. And worse, no individual choice on what to watch and when to watch.
The seventy-yearish woman smiled.
"Complaints aside, travel is really way more comfortable now. I can still remember the bad old days when the rear of the plane was the smoking section" I added.
When a flight attendant, about my age, came by to check on something, I said something to similar to her about the monitors.
"Oui, Oui, we are hoping the plane will crash and then there will be enough insurance money to buy new planes" she said with a mischievous smile. I was thankful it was a French attendant, and not a stereotypically stern German who might have ejected me from the plane!
"If you want, I can sing and entertain you with some French songs .... oooolalala" she grinned widely before moving on.
I turned to my seatmate, who had by then opened up a guidebook on Germany. "You going to spend a few days there?"
"Gerrmany, and then Austria, Italy, Switzerland ... for two weeks."
"Boy, quite a few countries in a few days. Soon it will be 'if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium' kind of feeling maybe."
I noticed her puzzled expression. "Oh, it is one of those old, silly, awful, summer movies. Don't bother to watch it."
"Some silly movies are real fun" she said.
"I know what you mean. Like Airplane."
"I hope they will show that movie today" I said. As if she watched a couple of scenes in her mind, she laughed.
She talked about the tour group and their plan. And about a dinner and an opera. And Salzburg.
I remembered all those places and activities from sixteen years ago almost to the very month. I also remembered an awful groaner a music student once told me.
"When you and your group are in Salzburg, here is a terrible, terrible groaner you can tell them" I told her.
She seemed a groaner kind. After all, she liked Airplane.
A tour group was walking about in the cemetery and were looking for Beethoven's site. When they got to it, they noticed him sitting on top of his grave busily erasing music scores from papers that were all around him. "Aren't you dead?" they asked in utter disbelief. "Oh, I am de-composing" he replied.
She laughed and she laughed. And she laughed. She was a groaner kind alright!
As the plane stabilized after the ascent, I decided to access the internet. Last December, I was thrilled with the web access from up in the clouds.
This time, sadly, the access was for a fee. Not free anymore.
Later that flight attendant returned with drinks. I told her that the movie stank and that the wifi was not free. She, therefore, owed me a couple of Edith Piaf renditions.
She opened her mouth as if to sing. She then seemed stumped at not being able to recall any song when she knew Piaf's songs. She tried those same motions again. Launch failure.
When the French attendant walked the aisle to collect the trash, she stopped at my seat. "At least for you it is only this time and you are done. For me, it is my job. The airline told me a couple of years ago that I had to move from Paris to Frankfurt or lose my job. I now spend 600 Euros a month because of it. Better this, otherwise I won't have a job."
It was a dull flight after that.