|Seoul from my hotel window|
Working with the flying public is always an experience, and my recent trip to Seoul is no exception. For the most part, the people I encounter are super nice. Sure, we get the rotten apples from time to time, such as the couple in row 21 who were working out some domestic issues. The woman had been so quiet during the boarding process, but turned into the Kraken after takeoff, yelling and belittling her husband for all around to hear. He, in the mean time, sat in silence, looking straight ahead, almost as if she were not speaking to him, but some apparition seated in the empty seat between them. Later, when I walked by, she had her head in her palms, completely distraught, perhaps with her marriage at its end. He, still, was silently staring ahead, obviously not as bothered by the whole situation.
There were quite a few military men on board as well; in fact, only 10% of our passengers were women. All my single lady friends, you should be flying to the states from Korea! One guy stopped me as the aircraft was still climbing to ask if he could make a purchase from Duty Free. He seemed very urgent about it. Politely, I informed him that duty free would not be opened until after the dinner service, or in about 2 hours. He found this agitating, so I mentioned that we did have over nine hours for him to make purchases. Curious as all get-out, I asked what was so important that he had to buy it right away. Jack Daniels.
A laugh escaped me, and I resumed my composure to tell him, “Well, you couldn't drink it on board the aircraft.” “Why not?” he pouted.
“It's a Federal Aviation Regulation...” we don't want people getting ten sheets to the wind, causing us to divert to Alaska, which makes all these people two hours late, and those who have connections miss their flights, and they will be very upset with you, and I don't want all these people upset with you. I also don't like the paperwork. I'm sorry, you can buy all the duty free alcohol you want, but you can't drink it on board; it must be served by a flight attendant.
Three men sat at the bulkhead of economy with blankets wrapped around their legs, an odd protrusion visible between their calves. “Alright, guys, what's under the blankets? Bags? Yep, we can not land with them at your feet.” They knew they were caught, but I've been doing this a long time and I know the tricks. What really got me was that I had just asked them not 5 minutes earlier to place their bags in the overheads.
In contrast was the nice young woman who sat across from my jump seat. She had a pink and white camouflage back pack, as if a recruit in the Hello Kitty army. She reached her seat to find that she had no seat in front of her under which to stow her back pack. She asked where she should put it. “Well, the good thing is all the leg room you have here, the bad thing is that everything has to be stowed in the overhead areas.” She pouted for a second, and I knew why, so I also told her she could have it down during flight, but during take-off and landing, it would have to be stowed above.
She was quite talkative and I enjoyed listening to her story. She had just flown in from Houston on the new 787. She remarked that she was not used to large aircraft with two aisles and had enjoyed the modern jetliner experience. She was going to Seoul for a month to see her husband. I guessed correctly that they were still newly weds. Her husband of about one year was stationed in Seoul, working with radios and communication. He would be flying back to Texas with her in a month and they would then be moving to Seattle for his new post. She wasn't necessarily looking forward to the move but seemed a little relieved to hear me boast about how nice it was in part of the country. She was in the running for passenger of the day, but the winner was back at row 57.
Here was a family of three going to a religious convention in Seoul. When I got to their row to pick up dinner trays, I asked how they enjoyed their meal. They said it was very good, to which I replied that I was happy to hear, since I'd worked so hard to prepare it. They ate up my sense of humor and I then noticed the young woman at the window had placed a stuffed animal on her arm rest, facing out. I asked if he was enjoying the view. The three of them laughed and I moved on to the next row.
|A large bear statue in Seoul|
A few minutes later, as I passed by their row once more, I further noticed the stuffed animal. “Is that a bunny with a pig nose or a pig with bunny ears?” I asked her. She sort of shrugged her shoulders, “A pigitt?” I asked, “Half pig, half rabbit?” Her mother agreed. Finding out it didn't have a name, I warned her she should pick one before I did so for her, and she may not be happy with my selection. I loved the laughter these encounters elicited, knowing I was making a great impression on their trip.
Halfway through the flight I learned that the pigitt still didn't have a name. I took a serviette and wrote down 8 names for her to choose from, and then added title options, such as Dr., Professor, or Sir. When I handed the list to the young woman, her eyes rolled with a big smile and the father laughed in approval. I didn't give them a chance for banter, as I immediately turned to retreat to the galley.
The next time I saw them, I was handing out the breakfast trays before landing in Seoul. I was informed that pigitt was now Sir Incheon. I smiled in approval and reached into my pocket, “In honor of Sir Incheon's new name, I present him with a pair of wings.” She bounced in approval and immediately pinned them on his ear. “Normally, we wear them on our chest, but Sir Incheon can wear them anywhere he pleases.”
They were a fun family and we later exchanged names and made small chat. I thanked them for being so much fun. Passengers such as these can really make a trip enjoyable. The flying public can be strange, funny, and at times, quite entertaining. But for the most part, they are a joy. Especially when encouraging my sense of humor with funny stuffed animals.