Christmas Came Late…

Back in Saigon after six weeks away –

It feels so good. Not that it wasn’t fun to see family and friends in the US; but it was cold, wet, and hectic for the entire time. I made three trips to the Bay Area on business and we stopped in LA for a night on the way back to Vietnam.

Christmas was a minimalist event for us – the Vietnam adventure was our gift to ourselves. It isn’t inexpensive setting up a second household but more than that we have had so much fun exploring, tasting, smelling, walking, talking, and getting massaged that it didn’t seem like we needed to do more for ourselves on the holiday.

But, 18 hours in the air is not something we ever look forward to. Maybe the next iPhone app will be a teletransporter that magically zips us across the ocean. I’d download that one in a heartbeat. But, alas, the app is not here yet so we made an airline reservation in October for a January 1 departure. The fare was a bargain because Northwest is trying to break into the market, and in spite of the bozo who tried to blow up the airplane on Christmas Day, the check in and security in Seattle and LA was relatively painless.

It was a breeze until we discovered that we were seated in different rows. How can this be? We buy the tickets in one transaction three months before the flight and they can’t find two seats together on a 350 seat 747? Give me a break. On top of that the two seats they do assign are in the last two rows of the airplane. When we reached the gate I explained the problem and my disbelief to a very sober-faced agent who asked for our boarding passes and promised to “see what (she) could do” around boarding time.

As the other agent began the boarding process, she finally called us over and handed me the boarding passes. At least we had two seats together. I didn’t even look to see where they were until we were standing in line to get on.

Wow! Wowser! The sober-faced agent, whom I was beginning to see as a ball-breaking Big Nurse, had delivered Business Class seats to us for both legs of the trip – LAX to Tokyo and Tokyo to Saigon. This is not possible is it? Did this really happen? We were afraid to ask, but when they closed the door we were still in the first row of Business Class with glasses of champagne in our hands. It was miracle. It felt like we had won the lottery. We sometimes fantasize about upgrading to Business on one of our trips, but for the number of points it takes to do it we can have two round trips to Europe.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that I used to fly First Class across the Atlantic all the time. I was spoiled and blessed, and as a Pan Am employee it didn’t cost me a cent. Times change, and though I am still spoiled and blessed I know it and appreciate the gift when it’s given.

Thank you Northwest Airlines sober-faced lady gate agent. We loved the flight, the service, the food, the seats, and the generosity and we’re glad to be back in Saigon a little less beaten down than normal.

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