I've been flying on United for over 10 years now, and I've seen some pretty dumb things, both on the part of them and their passengers alike. I've had 5+ hour delays for no apparent reason, seen drunk passengers denied boarding, even saw an older man punch a woman. I thought I'd seen it all. Wrong.
As I was checking in, I asked if my upgrade had gone through, with little hope as it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in the US, one of the busiest travel days.
"No, sir, I'm sorry, first class is checked in full. With 2 turkeys."
"I'm sorry, but I think I just heard you say that there are 2 turkeys flying in the first class cabin today."
"Yes, sir, these are special turkeys. They were pardoned by the President himself."
"This is a joke."
"No, I'm afraid not."
So I essentially got bumped back to coach for a pair of Turkeys.
After most people on the plane expressed concern that our tax dollars bought out the entire first class cabin, the pilot reassured us that the entire trip was paid in full by Disney. And out of respect for the turkeys, there were no turkey sandwiches on this flight. Just those made from their tasty cousin: chicken.
You see, with national disasters like Katrina & Wilma and the earthquakes in Pakistan, it makes perfect sense to pay at least $25,000 (figuring about $1,500 a seat for 12 first class seats, plus at least 2 or 3 additional seats in coach for the photographer & marketing people and I'm guessing $5,000 for a police escorted motorcade from the White House to Dulles, but I've never priced one out, so that figure could be way off) to fly 2 "pardoned" turkeys clear across the country, so that if history repeats itself again, they will die in a couple of weeks anyways.
My suggestion to the United "customer service" manager was to get a photo loading a turkey on the plane at Dulles, not actually fly them, and once the plane get to LA, get another photo of 2 stunt-double turkeys being off-loaded. If any city can find 2 stunt-double turkeys, it's Los Angeles. Then, take the $25,000 or so that was just saved and perhaps buy a whole bunch of chickens & hams (out of respect for the turkeys, of course) and feed those to people who actually need them. However, as the media reported, no one took my suggestion seriously.
So we took off 45 minutes late, as evidently the "be at the airport 1 hour early" doesn't apply to turkeys. To me delight, the turkeys were quiet and did not smell, unless you were right next to their cage. We had a "gobbling" contest, people told turkey jokes, and the First Officer even conducted a Turkey Trivia Contest. The only redeeming qualities of this whole fiasco was that the 1st prize in the Trivia Contest was a bottle of Wild Turkey and that we somehow made it to LAX 10 minutes early.
Since nobody will believe this without proof, here is a photo of the United Baggage handlers strapping the turkey's cage into 3A & B:
Here is "Marshmallow", the Official Turkey of 2005 of something, shot from the 2nd row in coach through the "peep-hole" in the blukhead that used to be closed before 9/11.
As soon as we landed and taxied to our gate, I got up and got off the plane as fast as I could, as the news media was anxiously waiting by our gate, cameras locked & loaded.
So when your children learn about Thanksgiving in the US, perhaps they will read about the story of TURKEY-1, as I am now officially part of US History.
I hope everyone had a safe & enjoyable holiday!