Saturday, October 29, 2016

Passenger of the Day: The Next Round is on Me

I was purser on a flight from Los Angeles. The flight wasn't full and it was a late departure. The sun had long ago set over the Pacific Ocean. I didn't get to see this one, but I've seen enough to know how it went down. (Excuse the double meaning.) The purples and pinks in the clouds with the blues in the skies above at altitude are unlike any sunsets on Terra firma.

There was a well dressed man seated in 2F. He had a certain calmness about him. He wasn't rushed, stressed or concerned. He was pleasant, smiled and kept to himself. The seat next to him was vacant, which is rare. He asked for a scotch after takeoff, thanked me and I left him to his reading.

After I had served all of my first class passengers, which was done fairly quickly, he called me over. “I wonder if I could ask you a favor, I'd like to buy everyone on board a drink. Would that be possible?”

I must have stammered a bit. I mean, no one has ever done anything like that. Maybe all of the history of flight! “Everyone? You mean, like all 100 or so passengers in the back?”

“Yes,” he said simply, sort of glancing back at the curtain separating the first class cabin from economy. “I'd like to offer to buy everyone a drink...anyone who would like one. You see, I'm a producer for several television shows, and we just won an Emmy, so to celebrate, I'd love to buy a round of drinks.”

“Well, to make that work, I'd have to make an announcement, otherwise, no one really ever buys a drink on these late flights. Are you sure you'd want me to do that?”

“I am,” he stated simply. Television producer buys a ticket in first class and wants to buy a round for the entire flight? Who am I to say no?

I quickly conferred with the crew, who were just about to come out into the aisle with their beverage cart. They were impressed and liked the idea. So I asked them to keep a tab on all the drinks and to bring it to me when they finished and Mr. Emmy would pay for it on his card. (I sure hoped that card was good!)

When I returned to first class, I let 2F know that we could accommodate his request, and made sure one final time that this is what he wanted before I announced it to the entire cabin. He handed me his credit card. “Oh, that's OK. You can hold onto it until we're done.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, excuse the interruption. Our beverage service is about to begin in the main cabin. A gentleman in first class is celebrating a big win and has offered to buy the first round of drinks. If you would like an adult beverage, please let us know, and if you're under 35, please have your photo ID ready. Thank you.”

The tab wasn't as large as I had expected; it was under $300. For a millionaire television producer, it would be like me buying you a coffee. It made his day, and he didn't ask me to do any advertising; no mention of his name or the television show. He simply wanted to buy some drinks for the flight.

The crew, on the other hand, was less than happy with me. They didn't realize that I was going to be making an announcement and charged me with greatly increasing their work load. I didn't realize handing out drinks to people was a big deal for people who have a job handing out drinks, but who knew? All they had to do was keep a tab of how many drinks they gave out: 8 beers, 18 minis, 9 bottles of wine. Just enter it into the hand held computer and run the card. Very simple, very easy.

Many passengers didn't even take him up on the offer, but everyone appreciated that the offer was announced. Mr. Emmy certainly got his wish and it did not set him back too far. I'm sure had he been on a larger plane that was full and taking off earlier in the day, the number on the hand held machine would have been more than my paycheck, but I have a feeling he still would not have bat an eye. Besides, I'm sure the tab was ultimately paid for by the television company. Thank you CBS! Next time, maybe I can be a passenger so I can enjoy a drink on your dime!

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