Monday, 24 November 2008

Single mother with socks appeal

After years of buggering up my social life and emptying my bank account The Teenager is finally giving something back. Inexplicably she seems to be a good luck charm for plane upgrades. For the second time in a row we get bumped up when we fly to see The American.

Admittedly there are more practical skills to possess that would benefit our everyday life, like champion dish washing or speed hoovering. Also, to profit from this skill I'd have to take her with me on every trip, which would definitely offset any benefits.

This time though, my very own lucky Leprechaun bags me an upgrade to Virgin Upper Class. However, the girl at the check-in desk decides not to inform us she's upgraded me to a £2500 seat and not done the same for my 14 year old.

So we don't find out until we get on to the plane and the steward directs me left.
''Left?'' I say, ''Left?!''
I have dreamed my whole life of turning left on planes! I don't say that last bit aloud. I am suddenly aware of the need to try to play it cool, like upgrades to first from economy are an everyday occurrence. I wonder what colour the free socks will be.

''You must have been upgraded.'' says the steward
''To first?''
''Upper, yes, but I'm afraid your fellow passenger is still in economy.''
''Oh great,'' says The Teenager to me ''so you're going to go in 'Upper' and leave me in economy''
''Umm. Yes?''
''Are you serious Mother?''

Ohgodohgod. Shut up child. I clasp onto my ticket for fear someone will change their mind and throw me into economy. Then the steward asks us to move as we are blocking the entrance to the plane. We shufty to one side.

''Listen'', I whisper to The Teenager ''One of us has to take this ticket. Do you realise how much they cost?"
''Oh right'' she snaps ''And that person should be you?''
''Well I am the frequent flyer here.''
''I can't believe you would go in first class and leave me.''
''You're just annoyed 'cos they didn't upgrade you.''

I turn to speak to the steward.

''Hi. I have my daughter with me. She's only 14. Is there any way she can come with me into Upper class?''
''Oh. Could we both go in Premium instead?'' (I am hoping he says no on this one)
''Mmmm. Shame.''
''What I will do for you though is let you share it. One of you go into Upper for the first half of the flight and then swap over''
''Really? Fantastic! Thank you!''

I turn to The Teenager.

''Great! Did you hear that?''
''So shall we go settle you in economy first then?''
''What? You are going first?'' she spits
''I'm going first and then you're going in first!'' I joke.
''Oh great. Nice.'' stoney faced she stomps off right while I go left.

I enter the purple lit haven of Virgin Upper class to the sound of champagne corks popping and take my window seat/lie down bed. I am immediately offered the 'cocktail of the day' and I accept, despite knowing that the frequent firsters only ever drink mineral water.

I pull on the black socks. Black! I should have guessed! So classy! Not garish red like economy or wannabe plum like premium. I rest my head on the feather pillow and strap myself into the padded leather seat and start texting everyone I know to tell them I'm in first. My brain is throwing out cliches like 'this is the life'.

The next 3 hours float by in whiff of attentive air hostesses and food and drinks served on a linen tablecloth. I make regular checks on The Teenager who's mood has denigrated into something like a hormonal Naomi Campbell.

''What's the matter?'' I ask her while she scowls at her pasta in plastic.
''What do you think?'' she spits
''Oh for god's sake! I am going to swap with you.'' I slur, slightly tipsy from the Tanqueray and Tonics.
She grunts and I glide back down to Upper in my black socks.

When the time comes to swap I realise I have made a big mistake. Being jammed back into economy feels a bit like getting chucked out of a penthouse to sleep on the streets. I have definitely done this the wrong way around. I make the reverse journey to see The Teenager in Upper where her mood has done an about turn and she is grinning and holding aloft something sparkly with a pink stirrer.

''Take some pics!'' and she hands me her camera.

I try and be subtle as I am aware of the judging eyes of the other passengers who fly this way every time and don't need photographic evidence. Self consciously I snap away while The Teenager goes into pouty Facebok pic mode.

Afterwards I trudge back into economy where the obligatory baby is screaming and the guy in front of me has put his seat right back, rendering my leg room from zero to minus. I gaze at my black socks and sigh.

Whilst slowly developing DVT I close my eyes and try to imagine what it is about The Teenager's charmless demeanour that makes her an upgrade lucky charm. Maybe it's the supermodel attitude. Or maybe the check in woman saw something in my eyes. A silent plea.
Something that said "I am a single mother being forced to take my moody teenager on a romantic getaway. Help me.''

So I ignored the helping hand but at least the Princess of Apathy appreciated something this time. When we are collecting our bags I ask The Teenager what she thought of Upper Class.

''Yeah. Good''

I silently seethe. I split my upgrade for a 'good'? I give a 14 year old £1250 worth of plane ticket and she gives me back a mere 'good'? I say nothing but vow to never again to share anything fabulous with the Princess of Apathy.

There is at least some consolation.

I got the socks.