Nana Kassim

It is 6.30am. Tony is all dressed up and excited. In five hours from now, Tony will board an aircraft to fly to Penang. In the true sense of the word, this will be Tony’s first flight, although he had flown a couple of times before.

Way back when Tony was 12 years old, he was determined to set a name for himself. He already knew he would not want to graduate from Oxford, as that would make him a kera. He also knew he would not want to be a PM as that would reveal his origin from Kerala. He would not want to be the Cheap Secretary as that would make him the boss in Kerajaan. In fact, Tony wanted to sever his relationship with his kera ancestors so badly that he vowed to one day be his own boss.

He always dreamed of wearing a beret – or otherwise known as a French cap – to work. That dream was to benefit him tremendously in the future as it helped him to deal with his genetic HIV. The cap was later to be used to conceal his embarrassment as his hairline increasingly vanishes.
Since that tender age, Tony already knew what he wanted out of life. He was an achiever and a high-flyer. He graduated summa cum laude from his kindergarten with flying colors. Tony already had a flair for flying, past and present.
Thus, it was no surprise that Tony flew into a rage when a classmate once told him to go fly a kite. Fortunately for Tony, his godfather  – whom Tony affectionately refers to as AK because his Godfather fondly calls Tony his Anakanda Kesayangan – was around when the incident took place. His godfather reminded him that Malaysia Airlines had a kite as its logo. His classmate might want him to go fly a kite now, but one day, that airline would fly his kite for him. Then later in life when he spots his grown-up classmate – who might end up as a CEO of a govt-controlled company – about to board a MAS flight, Tony can then walk up to him and tell him to go fly his own kite.
Memories of his past brought a huge grin to his face. Today is the great day Tony has been looking forward to. He will be transported from Sunway to the airport in a luxury coach. At the time of booking his flight 16 months ago, Tony had the foresight to book a seat on the luxury coach. He was convinced that would give him an idea of what to experience when he boards the aircraft.
The luxury coach stops in front of the entrance to the LCCT building. A couple of porters rush over to assist passengers disembarking from the luxury coach. Tony is in awe at the willingness of the airport staff to render assistance. They not only wear a warm smile on their faces, they also wear jackets that tell who their employer is Asian Water.
Going past the entrance, Tony is impressed with what he sees inside the terminal. There are signages everywhere to guide you to the correct counter or toilet. For first-time flyers, Asian Water has
stationed several female staff who are ready to assist with whatever you need to know about your flight. Looking in amazement at these gorgeous and dedicated staff, Tony instinctively hums the music to the song “Lady In Red”. Already, Tony is beginning to regret that he will soon fly far away and leave behind these adorable and smiling staff. But he has other excitement to look forward to.
Now that he has experienced the comfort of the luxury coach, Tony is not sure what he has to do next. Looking around like a lost child, Tony catches the wandering eyes of an Asian Water staff. The training provided by her employer instinctively tells the staff that someone needs help. She walks up to Tony and introduces herself.
“Hi, *ir, I’m Rose, your ground crew. I’m here to make sure your flight experience with Asian Water is a memorable one. You will realise that we don’t address our customers with an “S” and that our
employer refers to us as a crew. Once you have landed in your destination airport, you will then be able to put these two together and know that you have experienced a most exhilaratingly sensuous flight.
“By the way, *ir, is this your first time? The flight, I mean, not your experience.”
“Errrrrr, yeah, yeah, yes,” Tony stammers at the opportunity to speak to an Asian Water staff.
“In that case, *ir, I suggest you purchase some chips as you will need them.”
“But I am on a strict diet. My doctor wants me to stay away from starchy food,” Tony protests.
“No, *ir, these are token chips that we use here at Asian Water as a form of payment,” the crew explains.
“But I already paid for my airfare, airport tax, travel insurance, selected seat, selected meal, check-in baggage and also a seat in that luxury coach.”
“In that case, let me wish you a warm welcome to Asian Water, the flight that is full of surprises! Please proceed to Counter 85 to purchase your chips and then go to Counter 12 to check in. Have a pleasant journey, *ir.”
Tony makes his way to Counter 85 which takes him a full twenty minutes and joins the queue.
Forty-five minutes later, his turn arrives. He asks the chips crew how much of chips he should buy.
The chips crew asks him, “Is this your first time? The flight, I mean, not your experience.”
Tony replies in the affirmative. The chips crew suggests that he purchase one hundred ringgit worth of chips. Any unused chips can be exchanged for cash at Counter 7 in Subang Sky Park. Alternatively, Tony can use them for his next flight within the next 1 week.
“But I will be in Pulau Pinang for eight days and my return flight will be after the expiry of the unused chips.”
“In that case, *ir, I suggest you exchange your unused chips upon arrival in Penang. Our counter is located on the ground floor of Tunia Hotel in Pulau Jerejak. On your return flight, you can buy the chips at our counter located at the wet market in Pulau Tikus.”
Exhausted with having to memorise the various counter numbers at the various locations, Tony handed over two pieces of RM50 notes to purchase the chips.
The chips crew hands over the chips and a receipt. As he walks away, Tony counts the value of his chips and is surprised to find only RM95 worth. He goes back to the counter and asks for the other RM5.
The chips crew explains that there is a charge of 5% for purchases made at the counter.
“It would have been cheaper if you had made the purchase at the same time you booked your flight.”
Tony walks towards Counter 12, feeling very sure there’s something sticking in his rear.