One of the very nice benefits of being an English teacher abroad is that during the breaks between semesters I get to travel. This particular vacation I am going to London. One of the benefits of traveling to London this particular time is that I get a five hour layover in Moscow. This leads to a third joy in my life which is being the self declared unofficial spokesman Generation X. This particular circumstance in my life, which happened after I found the aforementioned title in a bag of potato chip and when I tried to return it the store I got the legal equivalent of a "no backsies" thrown at me, is that I get to actively pursue my favorite hobby. My favorite hobby, for those who have not added one plus one and gotten three, is listening to myself speak.
So I was in Moscow. It is a natural destination for anyone going to London, Particularly if one is flying Aeroflot and Moscow happens to be more or less in the middle of Beijing and London. This gave me time to think about my flight from Beijing to Moscow. You see I am a child of 1980s and like all normal children who had very few friends I actually heard about Aeroflot in the 1980s. Back then Aeroflot, like all things Soviet, was this scary thing. Between rumors of the pilots being all ex-MiG pilots who occasionally suffered from the flashbacks of the battle of Stalingrad during flights while flying airplanes that had been built well before the Battle of Stalingrad. So naturally I was a bit nervous about flying one fourth the way around the world on Aeroflot.
I had never been so wrong in my life. Correction, I had never been so wrong about something not involving basic math. The airplane was a modern spacious plane. It had the personal on demand TV sets in the headrests. The crew were friendly and treated you like a guest. The meals were quite delicious, even for economy class. Even the small details were not looked over. The bowls for salad were quite solid and filled with fresh produce or fish. The plastic ware was solid and comfortable to use. The seats were big enough to accommodate a 6'3 passenger and have enough room to comfortable stretch his legs. I was so won over by the quality service provided by Aeroflot that I am changing my flight plans to the United States and avoiding American based airlines as much as humanly possible. I think Aeroflot looked at the American business model and said "Right , these American airlines are failing miserably, everyone hates their service, let's do the opposite of them."
In fact as the "Worst recession ever to happen in the history of the United States since the last one" (trademark pending) most countries seem to be pulling out their recessions by doing, well, opposite of what the United States does. The airline industry typifies what is wrong with American business and the iGeneration (Ha! Beat you to that Steve Jobs). The iGeneration is a trendy, well off, group within the baby boomers. It is responsible for the cowboy capitalism that has caused this current recession. As is pretty much the case with the iGeneration they will blame everyone else except themselves for the problems that are occurring in their lives. The American based airlines blame everyone for their mismanagement and inability to treat their customers better than one treats dead cattle. They blame foreign government s for the poor business decisions made by American based airline industries. While airlines around the world are improving services and reducing prices to attract new customers, American airlines are increasing prices, and giving us a worse flying experience for the privilege. Have you ever heard one airline executive say they were to blame for their own mistakes? Have you looked at their ages?
There is much that can be said about what needs to be done to change this collision course with mediocrity that America seems to be lining up around the block to get on. But my flight is being called to London is being called (on time). We were requested by the lady making the gate announcements to leave our soap boxes off the aircraft as soapboxes are not allowed on vacations. It's okay for four or five days I won't need one.