Listening to the Song of the Sirens

I miss Garuda Indonesia. That was a lovely airline. Sure the cabins featured unpleasant color palettes, but the people were happy, they wanted us to be happy, they were efficient, and they just plain got the job done!

British Airways, on the other hand is a pitiable mess. 


Yes – I’m flying BA. This trip began 8 months ago when D and I found an incredible deal on business class fares to Greece. Neither of us has been to Greece before, but it has been high on both of our lists. I have a love for the ancient world, and from my childhood the stories of Greek myth, with gods and heroes, hubris and honor, have kindled the fires of my imagination. For years now, my Grecian heritage has called to me, generations of my ancestors whispering forward through millennia that I must return to the homeland of my grandfather.  

And at last I will.

There were some issues with the basic logistics of this trip. For one, we had to fly out of Detroit, and the itinerary was a nightmare of connections in Philadelphia and London. But at the time we booked the ticket were enthusiastic because we would get to fly on a British Airways 787, which would be a new airline for both of us. And British is reputed to have outstanding service.

That was probably the high point of our experience with this airline to date. We soon faced the realization that we would be asked to pay to choose seats on a paid business class ticket. Comparisons to Spirit Airlines quickly rose to the fore. Our experiences since this realization have frequently served to validate this comparison.

We never got to fly in that 787. They took it away, swapping in a 777. The 777 is a great plane, but not what we signed up for. On a positive note at least it has these lovely chandeliers. 

Yes, there are chandeliers. On a plane. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our flight left Detroit a few minutes late, but the flight attendant on American was efficient and funny, and the lush sitting across the aisle from us was downright entertaining. Those cookies were really good.

Upon arrival in Philadelphia, we tried to eat in the BA lounge, where they offered us a buffet. The food was reasonable, with the exception of the Pad Thai, for which they had a new cook who had never actually eaten the dish before and was making things up as she went along. 

Dining in the lounge offered some unique challenges. They never seemed to have plates, utensils, and food available at the same time. We were allowed only two of the above items. If they had plates and food, no utensils were to be found. If utensils and food were available, there were no plates. Sometimes there were plates and utensils, but the food was gone. The strategy would seem obvious (hoard whatever items you could get) but whenever we stepped away from the table to stock up on anything, the very efficient servers would quickly bus away whatever useful element of the above trifecta we had already accumulated.


We encountered a number of issues with BA ground staff, but ultimately boarded on time, and found the BA flight attendants on board to be unfailingly pleasant. Still, there is only so much they can do. They offered us meals early into the flight from Philadelphia to London. The options were potato salad with salmon, and risotto with mushrooms. The flight attendant was apologetic about the choices.

I chose the risotto, and can honestly say: The chilled chocolate and salted caramel fondant dessert was delicious.

I managed to find a few hours of sleep, waking for breakfast. For some reason we weren’t offered the promised fruit smoothie or yogurt, but frankly I just wanted the bacon butty, and it really did hit the spot.

Now, my dear readers, I sit at London Heathrow on my way to my last vacation of the academic year. A fitting complement to my recent visit to Turkey, Greece lies ahead, with its people, history, and food. I hope you will join me, because this is going to be good.


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