It was going to be a long flight, there was just no getting around it. Fifteen hours to Australia…in coach. Still, I wasn’t too afraid. They weren’t going to take me alive! I had a plan, unlike so many unprepared folks on this very flight.
The first part was choosing Qantas’ daylight flight, a one o’clock departure that would arrive in Sydney at eight-thirty in the evening the “next day.” Psychologically that seemed a lot shorter than losing all of Tuesday somewhere between Catalina and Tahiti on the regular “two days later” services out of California.
I found my preferred window seat, the second preparation for marathon flying simply so I can prop against the sidewall instead of drooling on my neighbor’s shoulder. Blankets, check, shoes in the overhead, done, the amenity kit (remember those?) and next the music and reading material. Then came the final, grand prize in building my "nest" in coach.
From seemingly nowhere I unfolded “Pillow,” the purest white, fluffiest bedroom pillow that would fit within the confines of my carry-on bag. Encased in 600 thread count linen, Pillow positively reeked of April Fresh Downy, as if it were a 100-proof rinse without a single drop of water. Pillow had to last not only this flight but two weeks of hotels, driving and sailing around the South Pacific!
I caught a few smirking glances coming my way, every piercing stare and squinted glance decrying the sight of such an amateur. Clearly I didn’t have the good sense God gave a blade of grass to buy a neck pillow instead. Obviously I wasn’t sophisticated enough to know that the airlines would provide pillows for flights like this.
Not so much as a Dramamine among them, I smiled to myself as I settled in to my seat and mashed my nose against the window, a ritual I've performed since my earliest memory. My body twitched and rocked with barely controlled anticipation for the adrenalin rush of take-off heralding the start of an incomparable vacation.
We pushed from the terminal, paraded majestically to the end of the runway and roared in to the air in an unusual eastbound take-off over The 405 and central Los Angeles. I held Pillow tightly in my lap as a child would clutch a favorite stuffed animal, smiling out the window as my 747, this favorite of all airplanes, banked smoothly over Long Beach and out over the ocean for the southern track to Sydney.
Six hours later Pillow and I were snoring blithely until it was time for a restroom break. A quick peek out the window showed the seemingly motionless wing with the same two engines right where I'd left them, calmly droning away in to the blue. I entered the aisle to head to the lavatory and noticed even more stares coming my way. This time every venomous stare and hateful sneer had the look of theft and murder in mind.
Dry cabin air carries insidious aromas no matter how many times the air is exchanged to freshen things up. The Angel of Downy had wafted thru that cabin as surely as if it were the 11th Plague of Egypt. I chuckled to myself as I glanced once more towards my seat. Pillow, who would endure many more salacious stares before this trip was over, remained unmolested as I closed the lav door.
I'm going again in October!