It’s a thing among expats and one of the commonly asked questions at this time of year, ‘who are you flying home with?’ There’s a certain airline snobbery that exists midst expats they just love to discuss airfares, airports, air miles and flight paths. They know the best time to book, the best seats to book, the best agents to use (fyi: no agent, always book direct) and the stopovers worth taking. Qatar’s national airlines Qatar Airways has the monopoly in Qatar and of course, Etihad and Emirates hold the top two places throughout the middle east, with Etihad beating Emirates by a nose for being the best middle eastern airline to fly with. Of course it’s not a private party and there are several other airlines that travel west including KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France etc etc, there are lots, but then they have a large group of flyers to cater for.
But like every group, there are different types of flyers living in Qatar, pilots and their wives and families, those whose company pay for their flights and those who pay for their own flights. Myself, I’m a member of the last segment of the group, I pay for my own flight, this little fact has a direct effect on my travel plans with the result that this year, I was flying home with…………Turkish Airlines. Despite my claims to be non-fussed over who I travel with, I admit to having been less than excited about the flight home. There’s something about two four and half hour flights on a smallish plane with Turkish Airlines with only a 5 hour stopover in Istanbul that has the capacity to dampen even the most enthusiastic home comer.
An early start, hesitant flight attendants, the middle seat, pregnancy and low blood pressure all lead to just one thing – a dramatic fainting episode on the flight. Yes, just like the movies, a crowd had gathered round whilst I lay in the aisle of the plane, wondering one, if my legs were shaved and two where the hell the gorgeous doctor was from? Funnily the kids never entered my mind, then I didn’t appear to enter theirs either because they still had batteries on their IPads. I could feel the fall coming on just after take-off and despite best efforts I has collapsed in my seat and was dragged to prostrate position to increase blood flow to my head. However the best was yet to come and when the doctor asked me if I would like a drink, I could feel myself coming- to rather quickly as I downed the glass of apple juice but, the real surprise was when the hostess asked me and the children to upgrade to business class, I nearly fainted again. Accustomed to turning right at the door of the plane when we walk on, the trip up past the curtain would be pleasant one and certainly worth collapsing for.
That’s the thing with us expats is we can judge a whole airline by just one incident, ‘they lost my buggy’, disaster would never fly with them again. ‘They gave Sophie colouring pencils’, great airline to fly with for kids. ‘Do you want me to get your bag from the overhead storage’, great staff, so attentive. So Turkish Airlines now had come up hugely in my estimation based on their handling of my falling episode.
Naturally, I was tempted to attempt the fall again on the next flight but I felt that this would be pushing my luck as opposed to counting my lucky stars. Sitting again in cramped economy class for the second leg I became even more appreciative of the earlier upgrade, I ran through the airlines and estimated what course of action they would have taken, Qatar Airways might have been aghast at the fact that I was wearing a skirt above the knee, Etihad and Emirates would certainly have left me in economy and perhaps charged for double for inconveniencing other passengers and Air France attendant would have stepped over me. The moral, if you suspect that you might faint on a flight, fly Turkish, for a comfortable collapse.