On the website of British Airways I select my from and to, I choose my date and under “Flight Class” I leave the default option, “Economy”, and under “Ticket Type” going with the lowest price is inevitable.
When it comes to flying I don’t care much for comfort. I would if I could, but “How low can you go” is my ticket-booking theme song. And I sing it even louder if it is a domestic flight. What’s 90 squeezed minutes between strangers?
I select my flight, click continue, agree with the statement telling me I am not allowed to have bleach on board, click and continue again. British Airways asks oh-so-politely if I want to book a hotel at R 2000 a night or if I want to rent a car.
I’m really flattered BA, but public busses and a friend’s couch will have to do for now. Next time okay? Pinky promise.
I continue with the flights only, and start to fill out the details.
First name. Done.
Last name. Done.
E-mail address. Done.
Telephone number. Done.
I double check everything.
Yes, yep, all seems right.
I’m ready to continue but pause at “Title”. It seems that there are more titles than what is necessary. What else could there be besides the obvious Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms?
A dotted line stand between the commoners (Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms) and the important.
I scroll down and a world of royalty rolls out with a drumroll, or perhaps with a royal trumpet fanfare, before my eyes.
Dame, Lady, Lord, Sir, Viscount, Viscountess, Baron and Baroness.
Oh bollocks, wait, am I a Miss or a Ms?
Who cares when you can be part of some kind of royal family?
But wait there’s more; I can also be a high-paying professional for the day with zero skills! There is Captain, Doctor, Professor and The Right Honourable.
But if someone chokes on their peanuts (which by the way, nearly never gets served on planes anymore, in fact BA is one of three peanut-free cabins in the skies), I won’t be able to perform the Heimlich Manoeuver. That’s out of the question.
Captain? We’re heading south-west, or is it just west? Nope. If I have to land the plane… well, then, just no.
Professor. I don’t know, for some reason people still think I’m a decade younger than what I really am. This one won’t fit like a glove. The Right Honourable? Maybe not. I don’t think it is wise to have any connections to the British government at the moment.
There is also the option to be a Rabbi or a Reverend.
What does the Mstr abbreviation stand for again? Mistress? No, that can’t be right? It is probably Master?
While I’m scrolling through the titles, dreaming up mock-up stories and thinking how I will explain myself if the ground personnel at the airport asks what happened to my diamond crown (or is this only reserved for those high up), I send British Airways a tweet, telling them that they’re screwing with my imagination and that being a Ms seems just so vanilla.
They replied: You can be anything want to be!
Credit card details.
Done! Ticket booked.
Wam, bam, thank you for not being ma'm!
I get my e-mail confirmation:
Dear Lady Rautenbach,
Thank you for booking with British Airways.
Details, details, blah blah blah, details, blah, economy class, more details and blah.
A month later I arrived at the airport in a sweaty rush – not very royal at all; my ride was late, I finished packing a minute before I left, forgot a few essentials (phone charger included) and we most-likely got a speeding ticket on the way.
Disappointment hit when we hit the brakes. There was no red carpet, no extra security and no long black cars with flag thingies on the sides. I threw my duffle bag over my shoulder (because I couldn’t even dress appropriately or have the right accessories to play the part) and marched over to the ticket counter, 5 minutes and a few seconds before it closed.
With sweaty hands I handed over my passport.
The British Airways staff member tagged my bag, printed the ticket, smiled and said, “Go to gate 4. Have a nice flight Miss Rautenbach.”
*Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going somewhere slowly, find her Facebook,Twitter or on Instagram
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