The flight attendant repeatedly apologised because she could not fix my seat's entertainment device during a recent Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore.
"It's OK. I can just sleep for longer," I told the Singaporean girl. I can be cutting but knowing that she tried her best I flashed my finest smile.
Thinking the problem was just bad luck I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a S$75 in-flight sales voucher to compensate for "the uncomfortable situation that I had to endure". It was indeed a pleasant surprise and I was in economy class. It also went some way to make up for the airline's failure to deliver my frequent flyer card, which had been promised to me by the airline's ground staff in Dubai back in April because I was a business class passenger.
Disappointingly, I had a totally different experience with our national airline on a flight from Jakarta to Sydney just two weeks before my voucher surprise. I was traveling business class thanks to the generosity of Australian taxpayers who invited me along with some other senior - in terms of age - journalists to take part in dialogues with our counterparts there.
A flight attendant smiled to me and tenderly asked what I wanted for breakfast before landing in Sydney. She was very charming and very attentive and I was enamored by her professionalism. However, it was hard to hide my frustration when all those sat around me had their meals delivered and cleared away while I just sat there with an empty table.
Having waited patiently, just before when we were about to arrive I raised my hand and asked where my order was. The Indonesian flight attendant apologised, admitted that they had forgotten it and bowed his head like a Japanese warrior. He offered me a quick breakfast. But what for?
"This is still a trial operation," he explained.
"You do not deserve a business class," a friend said to the attendant, probably echoing the sentiment of Australian taxpayers. Perhaps when I was an economy class the airline would give me a pleasant "apology form".