27 June 2009

San Francisco for the Pride festivities

I drove overnight from Los Angeles, and am logging on from San Francisco area, just north of the airport. My visit is to participate in the Pride activities.

As I drove drowsy by the airport, looking at the maintenance hangar for Sarah's airline, several thoughts went through my head.

Exactly 15 years ago (plus a few days), I went through San Francisco's airport for the first time, and it was to take my first international itinerary, flying to Seoul. Of course, it was on United - the first of several international itineraries I'd end up taking on United. Even to this day, United 807 is the most special flight I've ever taken (though United 2, in early 1996, which took me to London on a Boeing 777, is a close second). I keep thinking of that flight, whose details I still remember clearly.

In a recent complaint letter to United (which concerned my most recent United itinerary, leaving the US but only to Toronto), I discussed how I tend to hold air travel and airlines in a high regard, due to their ability to bring different people and cultures together, and hopefully prevent conflicts. I was mad because the purser on the flight out of Toronto had left me feeling really insulted (and more importantly, failed to live up to the premise of air travel). I seriously feel this way; it was more than a mere charm offensive to get some nice concessions from United customer service (and I did get a concession in the form of a voucher). As I work on Sarah and her story, I need to make sure that Sarah's dedication to her service to her passengers will truly reflect this mentality.

On a different note, with the death of Michael Jackson just two days ago, I can't get him out of my head. He was a very unconventional character - his androgynous presentation certainly was unconventional - but I would not expect a man of such talent to be conventional anyway. And back to United 807 in 1994, I had spent some time listening to Michael Jackson during the long 11 1/2-hour flight; Bad was one of the albums I listened to on my portable CD player, which had only 3 hours of battery power. Michael Jackson today reminds me of Flight 807 - and of all the other great music I listened to aboard that flight as well, including one of Jackson's proteges, Mariah Carey, who was my idol at that time. Of course, once in Seoul, I ran across too many Mariah Carey fans - and made sure to report back to Mariah herself in New York a few months later; of course, the journey back to the US, and on to Mariah, were on United as well, all the more reason why I believe in the ability of air travel to make connections between people.

As I participate in the Pride festivities today and tomorrow, these thoughts will occupy me. I want to make sure Sarah will carry some of these thoughts into her story. And I do look forward to getting on one of Sarah's planes again soon - to make new memories and connections.

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