It’s not often you get to fly alongside a celebrity, let alone be served by one 30 000 feet high in the sky. Yep, that happened.
You know that person who makes a total scene when boarding an aircraft? Carrying too much, taking up so much space in the aisles, getting into the wrong seat? Well, that’s me. Today, anyway.
Truth is I was turning left, yes towards the pointy end of the plane and was no doubt in a fluster lest someone see the error of their ticketing upgrade ways and pluck me back into oblivion in front of all the more worthy folks in their lie flat seats.
I was so eager to get my bum planted onto said lie flat seat in the belief that once I tagged it no one could take it back. We’re all still in the school playground playing tag at recess in life, really.
Meanwhile I dropped my expensive camera while reaching for the overhead locker, then dropped the contents of my cabin luggage bag into the aisle at my feet. The aisle now resembled my hotel room floor after my suitcase explodes each time I check in.
This was not a fortuitous start to my Rarotonga to Sydney direct route on the swanky streamlined Dreamliner with Air New Zealand. You’d think after 12 days in the Cook Islands I’d be floating on unicorn air and smiling rainbows, not down on all fours searching for a camera lens cap.
But then my hands met his under the seat of 4J and all stress was gone.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” he laughed, eyes sparkling, holding up the lens cap and directing me back to my seat. I swear this was a deja vous moment. Who was this handsome man whose face I know so well? Had we met in a previous life? Were we married, unrequited lovers, tormented soul mates, you know, in that past life? Or was he in a Netflix show I consumed like candy on rainy Sunday mornings, promptly forgetting the plot line by Monday?
It took a glass of champagne, a plump of a pillow and another champagne, all before take off, for me to realize that he was cabin crew and not my long lost Tinder date who stood me up that distant Tuesday night at a bar in Sydney.
This guy had the Bill Clinton factor, the ability to make you feel like the only one in the room (uh, cabin). He also had the Oprah empathy factor and the James Corden comedy factor, which is clearly why he’s a flight attendant in business class.
When my eyes were blinded by the tropical sunlight streaming through the windows above the clouds he flicked his magic switch and dimmed the gel tinted windows to soften the light. I am pretty sure he even hand painted the array of butterflies that adorn the toilet walls in the Business Class amenities cabin.
If I did not have to share him with pesky other passengers then I would have had him sit at the share seat at the end of my ‘pod’ and join me for a white cloth dinner. Instead I had him serve it instead before making my bed. Yes, you read that right, he cleared my seat, reclined it to lie flat and made a bed with comforter and memory foam mattress. Seriously, is this guy going to sing me to sleep?
Come ‘morning’ he woke me with a gentle shoulder touch and a fresh juice and I considered bottling him and putting him on Etsy. He even dismantled my bed for me and I wondered if he would notice if I scraped his skin for a DNA sample for cloning. I considered asking him on the inflight entertainment system in the ‘cabin crew chat’ option, but only for a second.
A few hours after touch down while driving in Sydney it hit me. Of course I knew this man, he just didn’t know me. I had seen him on almost every flight, yet not in the flesh. The cabin crew star of numerous Air New Zealand infamous safety videos.
His name? Tieo.
I live in hope he has a brother. A. Single. Brother.
Need to Know
Air New Zealand fly direct from Los Angeles to Rarotonga and direct from Rarotonga to Sydney so it makes sense to break up your USA ski trip with some tropical down time.
I flew on the original Air New Zealand Dreamliner 787-9 from Rarotonga to Sydney. The plane features a lower cabin altitude and a higher humidity for a more comfortable experience. On long haul, this matters, no dry mouth, less jet lag.
The gel tint windows can go from day to night to day at the flick of a button, no more cabin shades to lower. The windows are also larger than the average plane window.
Choose from Business Premier, Premium Economy, Economy SkyCouch and Economy. All cabins have gate to gate entertainment which means you can start binge watching as soon as you sit down, no need to wait till the plane takes off.
The menu has been designed by Peter Gordon and Michael Meredith. Expect three course a la carte meals in Business Premier. They even have berry smoothies upon wake up.
A ‘wine panel’ of four of New Zealand’s top wine buffs have chosen a Kiwi centric wine list so get quaffing.
When you ski, you have baggage. Business Premier flyers get three pieces of checked luggage up to 23kgs each. Skis/snowboard count as one checked in bag.
Head to Airnewzealand.com.au for more information on routes, destinations and the in flight experience.
Rachael Oakes-Ash was hosted by Air New Zealand