Noom, my bar boy friend and current love of my life, has turned into a traveller who lounges. And of course, I take full responsibility. Wait. Hold that thought. I can lay the blame at Air Asia’s feet instead. Their inability to figure out how to take a credit card on-line as payment for a set of tickets brought about Noom’s new found preference in air travel. He probably never heard the long defunct carrier Western Airlines’ famous slogan, but subscribes to the notion wholeheartedly when it comes to the joy of hanging at an airline’s lounge: it’s the only way to fly.
When Noom and I have flown off together in the past, it’s always been on Air Asia, the airline I love to hate. Air Asia is Walmart with wings. They pursue the type of person as a customer that I generally try to avoid in life. But, they’re cheap and so always came up the winner for short flights within SE Asia in the past. Noom was always content with the carrier, not knowing any better. But this time around we flew Bangkok Airways. Which bills itself as Asia’s boutique airline. And does a pretty good job of trying to live up to their slogan. In my opinion. In Noom’s they far exceeded expectations.
Noom generally considers minor little annoyances like airline schedules beneath him. He assumes since he is Thai his fellow countrymen will hold the plane for him if he’s running a bit late. That Air Asia usually is running even later themselves feeds his belief. I knew he’d enjoy the airline lounge experience but didn’t want to give the game away in advance so resorted to telling him a little white lie. As far as he knew the plane was leaving an hour and a half earlier than it was actually scheduled to take off. No problemo. Noom made sure we were a half hour late anyway. Even with my rushing him.
Once at the airport though it was difficult to hide the actual flight time from him. “Why you tell me 8 o’clock?” he asked, just a bit peeved over only having time to go back for thirds at our hotel’s breakfast buffet. His wasn’t a rhetorical question, but then he figured it out before I could reply. And scoffed. “You not that smart,” he informed me not willing to give up any points for what he assumed was an attempt at a sly move on my part.
But the nice thing about Noom is that he doesn’t hold a grudge, and willing puts up with my shit knowing if necessary he can arrange for some payback later. So he happily led the way through the security check, proud of his vast knowledge of the workings of Suvarnabhumi Airport and pulled his normal stunt of having packed what for anyone else would be banned creams, lotions, and gels. The Thai TSA girls surveyed his collection, and as usual with him, carefully packed it all back in his carry-on and sent him on his way laden with all the goodies the terrorists of the world would like to smuggle on board the plane they plan on blowing up.
Noom thought he had the airport thingy down to a science. Until I led him away from the gate and to Bangkok Airways’ lounge. “Where we go?” he asked a bit confused. He knew where we were supposed to be going and yet I was leading him elsewhere. Had it been him leading us off track it would have been of no concern. He’s Thai. That supersedes and negates all when in Thailand. But with a crazy falang obviously lost, who knew what could happen? When I opened the door to the lounge and ushered him in he gave me a not very trusting look, which disappeared quickly when he saw the interior. “Dis nice,” he proclaimed still unsure of why we were there.
So I explained it to him. Or explained the airline lounge thing to him. I built up the exclusivity of the experience without telling him that all passengers on Bangkok Air get lounge access. He took to the idea like a fish to water. Status has a grand place in his world. And when I pointed out the refreshments were free, he fell in love. And settled in. For life.
And all was good in Noom’s world until he thought back upon previous flights we’d taken together. Which earned me a bitch slap. No, an actual physical one. “Why we fly Air Asia?’ he demanded, his question reeking derision at the mere mention of the low cost carrier. Good thing I’d already decided to boycott Air Asia because it was obvious I’d never manage to get Noom to board one of their planes again.
We were headed to Luang Prabang, visiting Laos being one of Noom’s Grand Desires in life. His family, several generations ago, came from there and he felt the need to discover his forefathers’ land. But that need of the soul quickly took a backseat to the airport lounge experience. When it was time to head to the gate to board, his disappointment was obvious. I could see the little gears in his mind spinning, trying to figure out how he could skip the flight in favor of a few more hours in the lounge instead. He finally gave in, checking to see if there was further opportunity for enjoyment to come. “In Lao,” he phrased carefully to ensure I understood both the importance and point of his question, “we get lounge again?”
I laughed. And made sure he understood that’d be when we flew back to Bangkok and not upon arrival. The flight itself was short. And an old-hat experience for Noom who has become quite the frequent flyer since we hooked up. But Bangkok Air gained a few more points when they quickly passed out a rather mediocre food tray they’d decided to call breakfast.
Having flown on Air Asia enough times, Noom had to check. He leaned over and whispered quietly, “Free?” When I confirmed his good fortune he smiled. And then bitch slapped me again with a disgruntled, “Air Asia!”
Needless to say, for our flight back to Bangkok, for once Noom was the one making sure we arrived at the airport in plenty of time. And once again he basked in the airport lounge experience. I pity any customer in the future who decides to take Noom on a flight somewhere and makes the grave error of not flying Bangkok Airways.