Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Stepford Wives of Malaysian Airlines

The journey was guaranteed to be grueling, yet it went surprisingly well.

I cashed in frequent flier miles for this trip -- which meant that I didn't really get to control the dates of departure/return, the length of the trip, or the routing. On the plus side, this meant that a trip to Indonesia for xmas cost me $62. On the downside, this meant four flights to get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (the first real destination). Ick.

At Boston, I attempted to flirt with the women at the Delta counter. First, I tried to snag an upgrade to Business. "This is a business. Nothing is free anymore." Drat.

I put the accent on a bit thicker, and scaled back my request. Exit rows to NY and then LAX. Success.

Once I got to LAX, I tried the same thing at the Malaysian Airlines counter, and again, no business class seat, but I scored an exit row for the 19 hours to Kuala Lumpur. Score!

The first international flight was uneventful. I slept for 12 of the first 14 hour flight to Taiwan.

Malaysian Airlines seems to recruit stepford wives for its stewardesses. They're all beautiful, friendly, with perfect hair that is magically held into place. To make things a little bit more interesting/strange, every time I established eye contact with one, she'd tilt her head slightly, and beam a smile at me. This kept happening, no matter how many times I re-established eye-contact with the same woman. This was clearly some form of job-based programming, similar to WalMart employees being instructed to tell everyone to have a nice day.

At this point, I couldn't sleep any more, and I had 5 hours of flying left to go... so I passed the time trying to see how many times I could get the stewardesses to flash their plastic smiles at me before they snapped. I don't think they particularly liked my game, but their training/company rules forced them to play along. They seemed to get their revenge by pouring increasingly strong gin and tonics, perhaps in the hope that I'd doze off again.

In any case, I landed in KL at noon, mildly jetlagged, and rather drunk on seven gin and tonics. I splurged on an airport taxi, and spent the next hour slowly getting used to the idea that I'm back in Asia again.

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