A frequent flier's views on flying and travel

The Stalker

Travel for men can at times be a bit risky, but for women (ie; my wife) the world can be an even less safe place. I wish that it was not so, but it is a fact of life we all have to deal with. This story is about my wife, an incident she had with a stalker in 2007, and how it was handled by a flight crew 39,000 ft over the Atlantic.

Some background… I was on an extended trip to Singapore, and was coming back home via Germany where I was to attend a 4 day conference. While still in Singapore I had an inspiration and asked my wife (Robin) if she would be interested in flying to Germany to meet up with me, and then we could have a mid-summer holiday together in Europe before flying home. Sometimes, but rarely, my wife has to admit that I come up with good ideas. This was one of them. Ideas like this will never help you if you forget to send your wife flowers on Mother’s Day, but they can help to compensate for all the anniversaries and other important events you missed while traveling.

So when the day came, I got on the SIA midnight flight from Singapore to Frankfurt, and arrived about an hour before Robin landed on her flight (BOS/FRA). I had used miles for her ticket, so it was a freebie in Lufthansa First Class. We met as she exited the plane. We cleared EU immigration and customs, and drove down to Freiburg for my conference. Robin spent those days getting to know Freiburg, talking to street people by the train station, chatting to anybody with a dog, and pulling a few of her usual good hearted tricks and pranks on hotel staff and waiters. One that sticks in my mind was at breakfast. Her place setting did not have a spoon, so she asked the waiter for one. She then hid it, and asked another waiter for a spoon. Repeat this 3x. When we left the table she neatly arranged 5 spoons together on top of a rather generous tip. That’s typical Robin.

When the conference ended, we spent a few days driving and touring around Titisee and the Black Forest (yes, we bought the required hand carved cuckoo clock and had it shipped home), and then down into Switzerland and the Alps. After that we flew to Stockholm, where her mother was from, and we finished our holiday in Vienna (where my grandparents were from), before coming back to Frankfurt.

On the morning we are leaving, the check-in agent at United was a bit confused. I should mention that we have different last names, which becomes important later in this story. Anyways, I was flying on a full fare business ticket, while my wife was on a mileage reward First Class ticket, and since our last names do not match there is no reason anyone would think we are related or married.

The equipment was a United B767, and the crew were all IAD based, returning home after a short international turn. They were the usual international veteran FA’s, and one really junior FA who got assigned to the flight while on reserve. This junior FA was on her first international trip, she seemed to be more than a bit jet lagged, and she was in my cabin. Business was only about half full, so I had an aisle seat with the window seat next to me unoccupied. I had no complaints and plenty of room (this is before there were lie-flat seats). Now, I do not consider FRA/IAD to be an especially long flight, it’s only about 9 hours, but my wife does not travel as much as I do. So after the meal service and during the quiet time mid-flight, I asked the FA if she could check on how the lady in seat 2C was doing, and if she was comfortable.

Can you now see where this story is going? We have different last names, we are seated in different sections. I have a jet lagged junior FA on her first international trip, I asked about the lady (never used the word ‘wife’) in 2C, the flight is half way over the Atlantic, and my wife likes to play practical jokes…

After I asked the FA, nothing happened for a while, for quite a while. She didn’t come back, and it seemed it was taking a very long time for me to find out how Robin was doing. And that’s when the kimchee hit the ventilation system. Next thing I know, I have my FA standing behind me, the senior purser (aka: Broom Hilda) standing in front of my row, and the First Officer with some papers in his hand is standing in the aisle right beside me.

“May I see your boarding pass and passport please?” He asks in his very official voice.

My boarding pass is in the seat pocket in front of me, but my passport is in my briefcase in the overhead. As I start to stand up to get it, he asks (OK, he ‘ordered’) me to please sit down, and he would get my briefcase. He opens the overhead, it’s the only briefcase up there, and hands it to me. I pop it open, the passport is right where it should be, and hand it to him.

“And your boarding pass.”

I reach forward to extract my boarding pass and hand it to him. He opens my passport, and holds the boarding pass next to it. I can see his eyes flipping back and forth as he reads my documents, and he cross checks with one of the papers in his hand. Then he shows two boarding passes to the purser. After that he turns to my FA, and nods his head up and down. She seems relieved, I can actually hear her breath as she exhales, but I am still clueless what is going on.

Did I mention my wife likes practical jokes? This was one of her best.

When the FA went forward to First Class to ask how she was doing, Robin turned to the FA with a dead-pan flat expression and said “I don’t know who that man is. He was following me all through the airport this morning, and now he’s on the same flight.” She continued with “I think I saw him in the hotel too, he might be a stalker.”

Fortunately I did not get arrested (!) and the rest of the flight went remarkably fast. The FO was a good sport about it, and said that it was one of the best pranks he had ever seen in his life. But he did caution my wife that ‘maybe’ calling somebody a stalker might have been a bit over the top.

Later on, after clearing customs in IAD, we were walking through the terminal to connect to Boston and we saw some of the FRA/IAD flight crew. Robin turns to them, points at me and loudly exclaims “Look, he’s still following me!”

I remember that they laughed as hard as I did.

So if you ever have a stalker, I hope it is someone you love, and that you also have a great flight crew.


One comment on “The Stalker

  1. Pingback: A Blog Post About Blog Posts | Tales from the Terminal

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This entry was posted on October 2, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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