While traveling I had the opportunity to fly on two different regional airlines. I love flying on non-American regional airlines because the pre-take off ritual of pointing out the exit rows and pantomiming what would happen if the cabin pressure dropped is so baked in air travel experience that you can find it even on an airline that flies between Thrace and central Anatolia. There are some minor differences, however, and some are good and others are less good.
First the good. Unlike US-based airlines, foreign airlines are typically provide very generous complementary snack options. If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that I feel the same way about snacks that many people feel about voting: I want them early and I want them often. Which is why I was thrilled when I was booking my flight on Turkish Airlines and got to the meal selection menu and it looked like this:
Look at all these alternative meal options! Every possible religious or health-related dietary restriction is account for. It’s the most inclusive thing I’ve ever seen that also features the problematic use of the word “oriental,” which I’m pretty sure is code for “white rice.” I think I chose the “Bland Meal,” which sounds really depressing until you read the other options and realize that all the others actually sound less appealing than “bland.” Jain Meal, like what is that? Some naturally fallen apples that the flight attendant gathered before take off? And there is no such thing as a fruit platter that is also a meal, in my opinion. Fruit platters certainly have their place, which is as part of a wine and cheese reception that takes place right before I stuff my face at a buffet. As for the rest of the options, my doctor insists that I maintain a diet that is high in salt, gluten, lactose, and meat.
Just FYI: the Bland Meal was delicious. Turkey should be let into the European Union immediately based the the quality of their in-flight meals alone. It came with chocolate mousse. I had two Turkish Airlines flights, both were only about an hour long and they served a meal on both of them. In the US they starve you on cross-country flights. In Turkey they ply you with as much chocolate mousse as you can eat in 45 minutes, which is a challenge I will always accept.
Now for the bad. The other regional airline I flew was Pegasus Airlines. Pegasus airlines had no complementary meal service. Strike one. Then I happened to peruse the Pegasus Airlines catalog because I love overpriced official merchandise and I saw this:
Notice how the pilot bear is dressed as a boy and the cabin attendant is wearing a pretty pink to let you know that its a she. Yes, patriarchal gender norms are alive and well aboard Pegasus Airlines. Strike two.
Normally, I would take this in good stride and chalk it up to cultural relativism, but, as I have already mentioned, there were no snacks on this flight. If you’re one of the regular readers of this blog (all two of you), you know that I can ignore anything as long as I have a snack. Pegasus airlines could have put me in the cargo hold and I would be fine as long as I had a nice roast beef sandwich with pretzels or chips, maybe some carrot sticks and hummus, just a couple of Oreos, and a ginger ale. What you may not have known, however, is that my feminist sensibility is at its most radical when I haven’t eaten. Turkey, as part of the Islamic world, has a complicated relationship with gender, modernity, and religion (but, really, who doesn’t?), and had Pegasus Airlines provided me with a little chocolate mousse I would have found a way to understand that. But the only way I could distract myself from grumbling in my stomach was to think about the tremendous injustice that Pegasus Airlines was doing to all the little Turkish girls who had dreamed of being pilots until they discovered that there wasn’t a bear for them. Well I’m here to make sure that there’s always a bear for you, at least until someone gives me some chocolate mousse.