I started to become more prepared for flights because of an Emirates flight in the past, and the reason was over-attentive service.
Flying is exciting for those unafraid of heights and advocates of hospitality; they're hell for people with anxiety and fussy eaters (in case you were wondering, I went sky diving two years ago so I fall easily into the first category). The latter might need more preparation (both physical and mental), but none of us really step on a plane without some getting-ready.
Pre-flight rituals depend on a lot, but most of all duration: the hours a flight takes to finally let off expectant twenty-somethings, sore-necked thirty-somethings, forty-somethings deprived of sleep because their baby's bladder was at odds with the air-conditioning and fifty-sixty-somethings looking to relive a part of their twenties in weather much more tropical than their frigid hometown. Think book selection, handbags stuffed accordingly and laptops loaded with work or watchable films (if you rely entirely on in-flight entertainment, you're at the mercy of their taste).
Once on a plane, I like to let the crew do their thing. Bring me my welcome orange juice, ask whether I want the chicken or veggies for my lunch, pop open the mini Merlot and pour steaming tea into my white plastic cup. This is especially the case on particular flights like Emirates, when I know I'll be given the best there is to eat and drink in the stratosphere. Still, I usually don't step on a long flight without a book or two, hand sanitiser, fragrant hand cream, lip balm, a hairbrush, hair-ties and a warm jacket. On a recent flight from Delhi to Dublin, I even carried a make-your-own-gin-and-tonic kit I bought at a charming store in London (this, knowing the first leg of the flight would stop in Dubai, and then I'd have to board another, which meant two shots at ordering wine with lunch).
Little did I know that Emirates is always a step ahead of what impresses its regulars. They laid out the most tasteful spread of afternoon tea, which made me forget about my cocktail entirely: tea with milk and sugar on the side, a soft and crusty scone, a tub of clotted cream, a pouch of strawberry jam and a white plastic bowl with two chunky finger sandwiches (cream cheese and cucumber + chicken salami). It was as precise as afternoon tea on a plane could be. Even porcelain-preferring Jane Austen would find it endearing. And, to top it all of, they offered me more wine after.
Superfluous spending with the in-flight cocktail kit, I know. But my habit of pre-flight prep has only gotten so obsessive recently. I also think I've begun to drink more on flights than I do on Saturday nights. The reason for this, I suspect, is also the same that made me buy and carry that cocktail kit.
Last year, on a similar journey (Delhi-Dubai-Dublin; I think even the flight time was identical), I wasn't as prepared. I hadn't slept much the night before, rolled out of bed in the morning, put on a blouse giving no thought to the fact that it would crinkle easily, scrunched my hair up in a loose ponytail, sleepily spritzed some perfume on and headed off to the airport. Little did I know that my lazy grooming would have little effect on a flirtatious flight attendant.
( ... to be continued.)
Read Part-II here.