Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It was as if my long-time lover had left me for a gardening book author.
The pain was considerable, to my posterior as well as my heart.
Here was my favorite transatlantic airline, Virgin Atlantic, giving me a piece of flimsy foam for a seat and seeming not to care.
That was in economy on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I didn't have sweet dreams on this overnight flight from San Francisco to London.
On the return journey, again in a Dreamliner, my girlfriend and I were booked in premium economy.
I wanted to compare. Would this be more of a dream? Or would it be a painful reminder of how far airlines have fallen?
The Virgin configuration in Premium Economy is excellent if you like the person you're flying with. In Upper Class, you get your own pod. This makes it impossible to get a hug and a canoodle. You're essentially on your own.
Still, as we got into our seats, there was appreciably more room than there had been in economy.
We sat back. We relaxed. And my girlfriend's armrest came straight off.
No, she didn't tug at it. It was already broken.
This was a Dreamliner. It's a relatively new plane. After my experience with the flimsy-foam seat, was Virgin sending us a message not to fly it again? Was this a Virgin buh-bye?
A kindly cabin crew member came over.
"Oh, yes," she said. "Sometimes people mistake the outside armrest for the one that has the tray table and they pull it off."
This may or may not have been true.
But aren't planes supposed to be well constructed? Don't they get inspected when they land?
Wouldn't someone have noticed? Or does the need to turn around quickly mean that -- just as with my foam seat -- repairs can't be made and if you happen to get the damaged or broken seat, then tough?
I contacted Virgin Atlantic, but sadly didn't receive a reply. Virgin did, however, send me an email with a customer survey attached. I filled it in and sent it back.
Still no response.
Which is a pity, because I could have told it that the rest of the flight in premium economy was excellent.
The in-flight entertainment was superb. The quiet in the premium cabin was entirely conducive to reverie, reading and resting.
The legroom was more than adequate, even when the person in front reclined their seat.
Talking of seats, I even had a real one this time.
This was what some US airlines used to call First Class on a domestic flight.
Food seemed to arrive at regular intervals and it was mostly good. (For airline food, that is.) The wine was more than passable. And it's still entertaining to be able to have various levels of light streaming through your window at the push of a button.
Yet what are the chances that two consecutive flights on the same airline's Dreamliners can be marred by basic construction faults?
Dreamliner? Or Airline Pocket Liner?