The Jason Hahn Files: Let's Talk About Flying First Class...

"Saffy’s face went slack. The spark in her eyes dimmed and then died. The lines on the side of her face slid downwards, and the muscles in her forehead tightened. The effect was remarkable."

A few weeks ago, Saffy was at the airport in Beijing, waiting patiently to check-in for her flight home. It had been a long business trip. She was tired and cranky. The Economy line stretched on and on and everyone had on their ARBF. 

“Their what?” Amanda had asked when she’d first heard the term. “What’s that?”

“Airport Resting Bitch Face,” Saffy translated.

Amanda put down her cup of tea to give the matter her full attention. 

“And what does that look like?” she asked.“Like this.” Saffy’s face went slack. The spark in her eyes dimmed and then died. The lines on the side of her face slid downwards, and the muscles in her forehead tightened. 

The effect was remarkable.“You look like you’re on Day 25 of a carrot stick diet!” I told her. Saffy turned pink, and looked pleased. “It’s my new party trick!”

“I’ve never seen that look at the airport!” Amanda said.Saffy sniffed. “That’s because you only ever travel Satay or Wedgewood Class!” she pointed out.

To her credit, Amanda shrugged, completely unapologetic about her One-Percent Frequent Flyer Status. “I guess.”

“Trust me,” Saffy added. “This is how people look when they travel Bee Hoon Class.”Anyway, there she was waiting in the Bee Hoon line in Beijing, well aware that her face has also slacked into a first-rate, Meryl Streep Oscar-winning impression of the ARBF when she suddenly realised that somehow she’d actually made it to a counter.

“Good afternoon,” the stewardess said as she tapped keys on her keyboard, eyes flicking back and forth between Saffy’s passport. She paused and stared, then tapped again with the kind of great efficiency that had led her ancestors to build the Great Wall.She looked up. 

“Miss, our Economy section is fully booked, so you’ve been upgraded to our First Class cabin.”Within micro-seconds, Saffy’s ARBF morphed into the look of someone in Oprah’s audience who’s just been told she’s won a car.

“Better than sex,” she later told us.

“What’s it like in Wedgewood Class?” I asked, completely envious. The closest I’ve ever come to First Class is when Amanda comes back from a trip and hands me the pyjamas and toiletries kit.

“Ohmygod,” Saffy said in a rush. “It’s a whole different world! The lounge is like a hotel. The lighting is so sexy. There’s champagne and wine and lovely showers. And the cabin! Ohmygod, the cabin! When I die, I want to be buried in First Class!”

This being Saffy, it all went wrong an hour into the flight. She had reclined her seat to 45 degrees, put her feet up and selected a movie when there was a sudden commotion in the seat across from her.

Stewards ran up and down the aisle and there was a lot of urgent whispering. Saffy poked her head around her seat and gasped.“The guy was just sitting there, shaking in his seat,” she later reported. “His head lolled to the left and his eyes stared straight ahead. Then suddenly, he started vomiting thick green goo! I swear, it was like one of Dr Sandra Lee’s epidermoid cysts being squeezed.”

Amanda moaned and pushed her breakfast congee away from her. I was agog. 

“So what did you do?”Saffy’s bosom inflated. “That’s the thing! He was clearly having a seizure, but I’m not a doctor so there wasn’t any point me hovering and freaking out. So, all I could do was go back to my meal and movie, but then how can you sit there and watch Hugh Jackman sing and sip champagne when the guy next to you is dying in a pool of muck?”

Both Amanda and I gave the matter some thought and agreed that it was a conundrum.“God, I was so angry that he’d put me in this moral dilemma,” Saffy huffed, oozing dissatisfaction. “

His seizure totally sucked the joy out of flying Wedgewood Class!”

Ever practical, Amanda asked if the plane was diverted.

“No, because after 15 minutes of fussing, he was fine and laughing with everyone!”Amanda was astonished. “What kind of a seizure is that?”

“Exactly!” Saffy rolled her eyes at the poor quality of medical ailments suffered by First Class travellers. “By that time, my Lhasa Apso had gotten so cold, I had to get a new cup.”Amanda rewound the sentence in her head. “Lapsong souchong,” she said.

Saffy blinked. “That’s what I said.”“Lhasa apso is a breed of dog.”Saffy later complained to Sharyn they even change the name of their teas in First Class.

“So cheem hor?” Sharyn marvelled.

This story first appeared in 8 DAYS issue #1446 (July 5, 2018).

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