Features

Frequent traveller: Mile-high fail

30 May 2013 by BusinessTraveller

In which our correspondent recalls his attempts at a more exciting type of in-flight-entertainment

It would be a lie to say that I have never had that romance-in-the-sky fantasy when enduring the last leg of an arduous journey. Admit it – we have all dreamt of seeing that twinkle in a stewardess’s eye, a cheeky glance from the seat across the aisle, or simply hoped beyond hope that we will be sat next to the tall blonde we spied in the executive lounge instead of the snoring fat man reclining by the window.

I see Sir Richard is making it easier to turn fantasy into reality (or for more men to harass pretty females for the duration of a flight) with the new seat-to-seat delivery service on Virgin America. It’s a bit like that scene in the movies where a stranger sends a drink to a girl on the other side of the bar, except here you can send a G&T and a tube of Pringles to seat 32A.

Facilitating mile-high flirtation seems to be on a few other airlines’ agendas these days, too, with KLM offering a Meet and Seat service, allowing passengers to pick who they sit next to on the basis of their social media profiles (why does this make me feel so old?).

However horrible these ideas may seem, they did manage to take me back to the finest moment of my twenties, the three weeks I will no doubt remember on a cinematic loop when I am lying in a retirement home, watching daytime TV and being generally more morbid than I normally am.

I had been backpacking through Australia and Asia in the summer before I started university (no, I won’t tell you the year). I was working in a bar to fund my own drinking when I spotted the brunette with a dimple-cheeked smile across the room, the girl who would make the next three weeks the best of my life. (Until I met my wife, of course.)

I swiftly ditched my job and embarked on a whirlwind tour of South East Asia, hopping on short-haul flight after short-haul flight before reaching a Balinese paradise for a week of hammock hopping, beach lounging and the kind of bedroom action I had scarcely dreamt of as a spotty-faced adolescent a couple of years before (and can only dream of now, if I am honest. Sorry darling).

Illustration by Ben Southan

Frequent Traveller ©BenSouthan

But being young and madly in lust, the bedroom wasn’t quite enough, and we spied the opportunity to tick the mile-high club off of our personal bucket lists.

The challenges of a confined space should not have been an issue for two lithe, young people. A piece of advice, though, which I discovered to my detriment on our first attempt – always put the seat down before you get started, as a foot in the toilet bowl followed by an unfortunate slip can lead to the high suction flush nearly taking your foot clean off. Worse, the attendant showed little sympathy for what, at the time, seemed like a life or death situation.

Our second try was thwarted simply by a brazen lack of subtlety, leading to a swift knock on the door from a humourless stewardess before we even had a chance to flip the lock over, and the dreaded walk of shame back to our seats.

Take three, sadly, was certainly not third time lucky. Picking our moment more carefully this time, the brunette ever so smoothly got up first, followed by me a minute later. I slipped through the door behind her, and she was ready and waiting. Oh lordy god. The goal looked in sight – and then I had to go and ruin it. Too young to consider going for it with my socks on (these days, I’d be afraid to take them off in case I put my back out in the process), my attempts to pull them off while giggling furiously caused me to lose my balance and fall backwards with enough force to break the lock on the door.

And that was the lasting image of my attempts to gain mile-high status – splayed out, breathless, and with my jeans around my ankles as the rest of the cabin peered over their seats to chuckle at my sheer embarrassment.

I decided then and there that whatever anyone else might say, this was a club I no longer wanted to join. From now on, I would keep my escapades firmly on the ground. Now, where’s the IFE remote?

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