natasha nakamura's diary
Friends are curious how I can afford to so often fly from Tokyo to Paris and Vienna (the Paris of Eastern Europe) and to New York and San Francisco. They know I don't otherwise have a lot of money: my one-room apartment in Roppongi is certainly modest and when we go out it's very rarely to a place with an elaborate menu and an evocative wine card. The fact is I eat better on planes than I do on my own, because I always fly First Class.
How can this be?, you ask. This seems to you against the rules of nature.
Well, I can do this because Father finds himself in the extraordinary position of caretaker of the standards of the service offered by the international airlines. His meishi reads: Vice President Operations, Amalgamated Air Transport Organisation (AATO), with headquarters in Amsterdam.
My father is responsible for seeing that (most) airlines flying internationally maintain a level of service that ensures that flying is recognized as a comfortable, even enjoyable, way to travel and that no airline which belongs to AATO is allowed to compete by cutting back on service in order to allow it to offer cheaper tickets. He has a small staff whose job it is to fly and report whether airlines' service meets the AATO standard. I've taken over a small part of this job. It's my job to fly First Class and report. I can pretty much do this when I want as there is inevitably an empty seat in First Class. I am told it's best to have a single person keeping an eye on First Class service as she will apply the same standard (her own) to all airlines for purposes of comparison.
It's gotten so I'm beginning to get to know the First Class cabin stewards of the various airlines, who are usually those the airlines figure are the most charming of its staff.
Next Wednesday I'm off to Berlin on Lufthansa, whose First Class I know to be first class.