Friday, July 8, 2011

Fly American!

I would like to take this opportunity to bust a bit the dreams of all the FSO hopefuls out there. This is what I thought happens when a FSO travels abroad to get to his or her post: she arrives in style at the airport, looking smashing in her heels, skirt suit and a dashing scarf, gently lays her black diplomatic passport on the check-in counter at which point the airline clerk bursts into immediate smile and hands her her business-class ticket to, say, Burundi. Then, our lovely FSO effortlessly strolls to the security checkpoint, smiles reservedly, hands the black passport and is courteously ushered away from the crowds and quickly into the terminal. She proceeds to the Club Room, where she reads important things like the Economist and the Financial Time, oozing sophistication while sipping a glass of complimentary champagne and the whole world is just fabulous.
Not so much.

The State Department has a very strict "Fly American" policy, which means just that--to the extent possible and reasonable (very specifically defined), the FSOs will fly only on American airlines (United, Delta, AA, US Air, etc). Now, let's not pretend that we don't all know that these are NOT the best international airlines out there. But we in the State Department are committed to supporting American business no matter what. And no, we are NOT given Business Class seats. There used to be a policy that when the flight was over 14 hrs (or so), the State Department authorized the upgrade. Not anymore--now, even if you are flying to the moon, you fly coach. Which is super awesome on a 16 hrs flight--just imagine the state of the bathrooms in coach after all those hours.
So, I flew very inelegantly in coach where my neighbors, among others, was a family with 4 children, two of which under 4 who DID NOT stop screaming for 6 hours!!!!!!!!! Mercifully, Son fell asleep at take-off and slept till 30 mins before we landed in Budapest. After a horribly boring 4 hour layover, we climbed another plane that took us finally to Sofia--Son fell sleep during taxing and I actually had to wake him up when we landed. He is an awesome traveller!
We are currently at my Mom's where she is making futile efforts to make him speak Bulgarian with her while I do nothing at all.


  1. Happy news that your travels thus far are uneventful. Can't wait to hear updates on everything!

  2. eagerly waiting for your posts after reaching Dhaka! wish the diplomat mom all success and upgradation!

  3. Thanks for this blog. I am nearing the end of my second posting as a Senior English Language Fellow, which, as you might know, though funded through the State Department is not a USG job. My first posting, as a regular fellow, was in Vietnam, and the past two years have been in Bangladesh. So, I was happy to read that your first posting as a diplomat happened to be here!

    Keep blogging!