FRANQUE’s Fridays: AIRtiquette

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‘Are you French? Do you speak French?’ He asked looking at my name tag.

I resisted the urge to say ‘It’s English,’ like I had said countless times before.

Instead I said, ‘it’s a long story sir.’ I chuckled. ‘I’ll tell it to you after I serve you your meal.’

He nodded and I pulled the heavy meal service cart from the aisle and back into the galley, smiling.

The smile was to mask a minor irritation I had momentarily felt.


After take-off, when the fasten seatbelt sign went off,  I had gone into the cabin to ask the passengers if they would be having lunch so I could lay out the table cloths before rolling out with the meal service and he had said no, only for me to serve the lady sitting next to him – they were travelling together – and he changed his mind and decided he wanted lunch after all.


I served him his meal, and then the lady decided she preferred his option, an option which I offered her and she declined. She was happy swapping meals with him.

‘Suit yourselves.’ I said in my head, all the while smiling.


When I went back to clear the trays, I found he did not eat his meal.

‘Did you not like the meal sir?’ I asked him.

‘Oh, it was okay. I just wasn’t feeling hungry.’

‘So why did you ask for the meal?’ I wanted to ask him. Instead I smiled and cleared their tables.

The lady waited for me to get to the galley before pushing the crew call button. I returned to her side and she asked for a glass of water.

The urge to roll my eyes was strong because, on the tray I had just cleared was a half full glass of water and an untouched glass of orange juice.

I returned with a fresh glass of water, smile in place.

‘Wait,’ she held up her hand after I served her the water. She took a sip, then another from the glass before returning it to me.

With the biggest smile I could muster I collected the glass, all the while daring either of them to call me back for anything else.

Maybe the message got lost in translation, because no sooner had I returned the glass to the rack than the call button went off again. I peeked into the cabin to see the man waving; he wanted a glass of water too.





Yesterday, on a flight to Abuja I was told to expect three business class passengers so I made sure I was catered to four, making the caterers load two of each meal option I was to serve; that way, at least two people would get their first choice of meal.

I ended up with two passengers, and so I was expecting an easy flight.

After take-off, when I went to lay the table cloths they both asked for the beef meal. I smiled inside as I laid the tables with a flourish; I was going to wow these passengers with my service skills. I rolled out the meal cart and, for some reason, I served the lady first.

When I turned to serve the man, I opened the dish to find chicken looking up at me.

I felt my exuberance seeping out as each meal I opened revealed chicken nestled in the warm embrace of the potato chips.


Praying he would not be a fussy customer, I served him the chicken without announcing what I was serving him as I would normally have.

‘Maybe he won’t notice it’s chicken till he’s eaten it, and maybe he won’t want to make a fuss. I hope o.’


I think that was the fastest I have had my prayer answered because he did not say anything, even after eating the first couple of mouthfuls.


I was going back out to top up their drinks when the lady caught my attention.

‘This food is cold.’ She said.

This. Food. Is. Cold. Kept playing back in my head as I made my apologies and cleared the offending tray.

I offered her the chicken meal.

‘I don’t eat chicken.’ She gave a wistful smile.

So I offered to cook her another meal and she was agreeable. The threw me because I was expecting her to make trouble for me.

Instead there she was al smiles and telling me she was happy to wait twenty minutes for me to cook her another meal.


How that could have happened is something may never know because, I cooked the beef and chicken and the crew meals together in the same oven at the same time for the same length of time, yet all the other meals were cooked through, but not the beef.

The crew meals!


I went back to offer her a beef crew meal since it was ready and would save her waiting twenty minutes.

‘That’s fine, I’ll take that please.’ She said.

She did not mind that the meal was served in a foil pack instead of Chinaware, and she was still nice to me.

‘Hian! There is a God.’ I thought.


At the end of the flight I told her I hoped the whole meal drama had not taken away from her overall enjoyment of the flight.

‘Not at all.’ She smiled.





On the return flight out of Abuja, with eleven out of twelve business class seats occupied, all the overhead lockers were filled and I was struggling for space to accommodate a last bag.

I had just given up the space in business class where my bag was in order to stow an economy class passenger’s bag, so when this final business class passenger came on board with his bags, I felt like kicking myself.


‘How we go do am nau?’ The Abuja manager asked me.

‘Ask him if he doesn’t mind stowing the bags behind the last row of business class seats.’ I said.

‘He doesn’t mind.’ The manager came back to tell me.

I led the way to the spot with the manager behind me, but when I turned to show him where to put the bags, he turned and walked away.


I was bending to push the second bag under the seat when I felt something press against my left buttock and heard a ripping sound.

I had gotten too close to the portable oxygen stowage area and one of the clasps holding the bottle in place had something to say about that mistake.


The tear on my pant was L shaped around the back pocket area and obvious. It could not be ignored.

I had to wear my jacket throughout the flight, and I was careful not to move to quickly lest the slit in the jacket parted to open my yansh.

Talk about Cover Your Ass.


PS: After two years away from flying, I recently returned to find that the more some things changed, the more they remained the same.

When I was away, I thought I missed flying. Then I returned and realised that I actually did miss flying.

Here is hoping I fly for as long as I can, and that each flight will be a fun one too.



"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.


  1. Hey Franque! Is this really you? Welcome back bro. Missed u and ur articles. I was actually off this blog since u absconded (lol) but only returned a few months back. How is Zite and ur sisters?. Good to have u back!. I’m here to stay, ps do not run off again.

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