Have you ever been in one of those situations where you were feeling so poorly that all you wanted to do was crawl into bed and lie under the covers whilst someone pampered you – but you couldn’t because real world responsibilities had to take priority, instead? Well, I was in one such predicament last month where I had to catch two consecutive long-haul flights to get from the UK to Singapore for a work trip. Normally, I’m used to travelling – usually after a manic day at the office, coupled with last minute packing, I’m on and off different planes before you can even say ‘Bob’s your Uncle’! But this time was different.
This time, I felt the beginnings of a migraine start the day before my first flight. However, despite taking the usual precautions, it only became worse during the first 7-hour leg of my journey (and possibly wasn’t helped by the strong Arabic kahwa (coffee) that I chugged down during my 3-hour transit in Dubai). Suffice to say that by the time I boarded my 3.15am flight for the final 7.5-hour leg of the journey, I was functioning at far below my optimal levels, well and truly in the throes of the mother of all migraines! Those who know me well, will understand the scale of my pain when I tell them that I felt so miserable that I didn’t even go and eat my usual shawarma at my favourite Dubai airport restaurant Shawarmanji (It’s in Terminal 1 C for anyone planning on checking it out). Yes, it’s true – I passed up an opportunity to eat shawarma, and yes – I’m such a loyal Emirates frequent flier, that I even know which shops and amenities are located where within both airport terminals!Anyway, by the time I boarded that much-adored A380 plane (my favourite flying machine in the whole wide world!) I had left my cerebral processing power (read: brains) behind on terra firma.
To begin with, I walked right past my allocated seat like some sort of dimwitted newbie passenger, and had to be called back by the purser – who came up the aisle after me, calling me by name! How he recalled it from just a nanosecond glance at my boarding pass, I’ll never know.
The next thing was getting my little carry on up into the the overhead cabin. Normally, this isn’t an issue for me, despite my (ahem) petite stature. I stand on a seat if necessary, but am usually able to get it up into the lockers without issue, and rarely, if ever have to call upon a fellow passenger for help. This time though, not only had I stuffed my heavy jacket and coat into my carry on (the temperature was 1C when I left Northampton and 22C in Dubai), but also quite a bit of Duty-Free shopping that I’d done for my darling niece Ayzah (note to self: baby shopping is heavy on both the pocket and the back!). So my bag must’ve certainly weighed at least double the 7kg allowance. Anyway, the poor chap must’ve seen me stand helplessly gazing up at the overhead cabin, and the next thing I know, is that he’s left his post at the front of the aircraft once again, and is by my side, gallantly lifting the leaden bag into the locker. Fortunately, he was far too professional to ask what elephantine contents I had in there or mention my apparent disregard for the cabin baggage allowance. I vaguely recall feeling very guilty at that point, as I watched him straighten his jacket from the exertion as he walked back to his post. I really and truly hope he didn’t pull a muscle – I’m hoping he didn’t, because the knight in shining armour that he was, when we landed, he actually made his way through the other standing passengers and took my carry on down for me too! All this without really knowing how very, very gravely ill I was feeling.
His gestures are all the more touching as I later learnt here, here and here that cabin crew actually aren’t supposed to help passengers lift their luggage into the overhead lockers, because lower back pain is an ongoing hazard of the job for them. Anyway, after spending most of the flight listlessly dozing in and out of sleep, by the time we touched down in Singapore at 2.40pm local time, I was in desperate need of a quiet, darkened room and a bed to lie down on. In my haste to get off the plane, through airport formalities and to the hotel, I didn’t even get a chance to properly thank my knight in shining armour or to even get his name! This is quite literally one of my biggest regrets to date.
My migraine took about four days to clear (yes, it was that bad!), and since then, this whole saga has been eating away at me, particularly because I really didn’t thank him at the end, and neither was I very appreciative of his help during the flight itself. This was very remiss of me, especially because I know how hard all members of cabin crew work as a dear friend of mine is cabin crew with British Airways. I have of course, written to customer services at Emirates requesting them to convey my indebtedness to the purser whom “I think was from Pakistan. He wore glasses, and sat in the middle jump seat at the front of the plane during takeoff (the lower deck of the A380) on my flight EK354 on Friday 6th January 2017”.
Hopefully my message of gratitude will have reached the described knight in question, and hopefully it will have made his day to know that the huffing and puffing and heaving that he did for the grumpy and folorn-looking ‘Ms. Qureshi’ that day, didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. I also hope that Emirates will have rewarded him in some way for being a sterling exemplification of the brand ambassadors for the Airline that Cabin Crew are meant to be.
I should also mention that the capacity-builder in me initially wanted to take every measure to ensure that my gratitude was suitably voiced. I reached out to Kelsey Johnson on Facebook, and received an immediate reply from her. This also got me into reading Kelsey’s blog about her travels as cabin crew with Emirates. I would highly recommend her fascinating and enjoyable posts about life as a literal jet-setter.
So through this blog post, I suppose, I am laying to rest my guilty conscience for not having been suitably grateful to my knight in shining Emirates-Cabin-Crew-uniform! If he ever does read this, this message is for him: Shukran, Merci, Arigato, Grazie, Asante, Obrigado, Danke, Shukriya – Thank you!
Saneeya Qureshi © 2017