8 April 2012
I was ready to hate Jetstar and swear never to travel with them again.
Especially after the flight to Japan in which they reneged on the paid seating allocation and placed us in middle seats – we were eventually given aisle seats in the back row of the plane, right next to the toilets. And then forgot our food and drinks, and then when finally offered, did not provide a choice.
But check-in for my trip home was the ultimate slap in the face. In contrast to standard practice for long-haul overnight flights, I wasn’t entirely dreading this trip as, you see, I had managed to take advantage of a fortuitous business class sale, which meant I got myself into the pointy end of the plane for just $80 more than an economy seat on the same flight.
But panic ensued as the third-party check-in agents tried every possible means of finding my booking, without success. My troubles were escalated to the manager, the only person at the whole airport actually employed by Jetstar, who let me know that, in a stunning disconnect between what was booked and what was offered, I was in the wrong check-in queue as my booking showed me in economy class.
Oh, and I was in the wrong city too. Apparently, I was departing that night from Osaka, not Tokyo, which was news to me.
While I got what I paid for back in the end, it was a complete waste of half an hour that could have been better spent drinking $80 worth of scotch in the lounge. The check-in manager was apologetic, but not forthcoming with compensation, with the exception of a tiny fold-up stool to sit on in the check-in hall that made me feel like a little person.
But then I received a surprise. The inclusion of a Lindt chocolate egg on the dinner tray of my Easter Sunday red-eye flight home.
Easter was an event I had simply forgotten about this year. With Christianity being the religion of only a very small minority of Japanese, the locals go about their daily business completely oblivious to the fact that more than billions of people worldwide are enjoying a holiday, regardless of whether they are Christian or otherwise. It is a little surreal when you realise that an event observed ritualistically every year since birth suddenly ceases to exist, barely noticing it’s passing.
It is also amusing watching the Japanese man next to me staring at the red ovoid with an inquisitive glance, his eyes silently questioning it’s significance.
He chooses not to eat it, and sleeps instead. Which was convenient, because it meant I could have two.