British Midlands (BM), which no longer exists, having been swallowed up by British Airways (BA), used to have an early Friday evening flight from Brussels to Birmingham, England. A flight that barely took an hour in duration but because it was a fiercely contested route with BA, they went out of their way to out-perform their rivals in anyway they could.
They offered full evening meal in business class, which was nigh on impossible to serve and be consumed before trays had to be scooped away in preparation for landing.
I took this particular flight every Friday while on assignment in Brussels for about 18 months. Having had a long hard week working on an intense project, the last thing I needed on Friday nights was the anxiety of having a food tray thrown at me from a speeding service trolley only to have it violently whipped away within 7 minutes by an anxious flight attendant urged by the pilot’s instructions to prepare for landing. The pressure was too much to bear so, after a month or so, I resolved to opt out of the in-flight meal.
This attitude brought it’s own set of problems. Flight attendants who were trained to be extra nice to us and feed us within an inch of our lives took the refusal of a meal personally.
Attendant: Are you sure sir?
Me: Yes I am quite sure, thank you
Attendant: Do you have special dietary needs, I can get you a salad or…
Me: No really, I am not hungry; thank you all the same
Attendant: can I get you a drink, perhaps Champagne?
Me: No it is a little early for that
Attendant: well, why not take the bottle home with you?
Me (wishing to end this stand off): Okay, yes please!
The attendant would return with a Champagne piccolo (1/4 size) and thrust it in my hand with a triumphant smile and a wink. Sometimes, the attendant keen to make amends for my not having a meal would bring me two piccolos!
On the first couple of occasions it was a pleasant surprise for my wife and we would drink the small bottle or two over dinner that night or Saturday night. However, the regular Friday trips and the occasional opting out of drinking our Champagne on Friday or even Saturday soon accumulated to a sizeable number of tiny bottles of Champagne crowding our fridge so much so, we could hardly get to the milk, soft drinks, eggs or any other more regularly required items of food. It seemed like the blessed things were breeding inside our fridge. Conservatively, I would say I brought home close to 100 Champagne piccolos.
Anyway, I was sad to see British Midlands being gobbled up by the giant BA, I really had a soft spot for the airline and their amazingly dedicated staff; God bless them all!