Raajeev's Corner

Raajeev's Corner – 2022

Aloha, Bania! Money Makes People Better Actors

By Raajeev Aggerwhil

My wife and I had a week’s vacation in Hawaii. She was happy spending time on the beach. I was just happy to get upgraded to first class tickets for free. A $330 round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Honolulu per person was a good deal. Getting an upgrade to first class for free was the deal of the century. Our promotion code was Covid19. Just kidding. I guess because of Covid and traveling in the new year after the holidays, there were a lot less passengers.

While I was happy after getting upgraded to first class on United, my excitement quickly disappeared when I saw my fellow passengers. They all dressed like hippies, punks or yoga instructors. They should have a rule that you cannot get upgraded to first class if you do not follow a basic dress code. If every Tom, Dick and Raajeev can upgrade to first class, it is no longer first class. I guess there are too many free riders counting on frequent flyer miles, leading to Airline Mile Inflation.

The first-class restroom was occupied, so when I went to the economy class restroom, I realized how much I missed traveling in economy when the plane is half full. I would lie down on three seats, feeling more comfortable and luxuriously frugal than in first class. Still first class was not bad, although it was more crowded than economy!

We did enjoy free hot meals in first class. I ordered champagne. I don’t like the taste, but I do like holding the glass pretending to be a connoisseur. When I ordered it, I intentionally mispronounced it. I had a feeling she already knew our secret that we had gotten a free upgrade because of credit card miles, so I thought we might as well have fun with the stereotype. “Can I have a glass of champ-pain?” She very respectfully clarified, “Champagne? I’ll be happy to get it for you.”

I have never been fond of United flight attendants because they remind me of the teachers my kids had in middle school in Boston. Strict, gloomy, with a touch of racism padded under a fake smile. But the ones in first class were different. They were relaxed, cheerful and more genuine. I guess money makes people better actors.

We stayed with our friends who own a house there. We took them out for dinner a couple of times. While we toasted our friendship for the last 20 years, I silently expressed my gratitude for saving so much money in hotel charges. Our friends’ house was in a resort. It was like being in the movie Truman Show. It had manicured gardens, was close to pristine beaches and filled with very friendly people.

One of my favorite spots for snorkeling is Hanauma Bay. We went there over twenty years ago, and it was an amazing experience seeing all the fish even in shallow water. However, it was disappointing this time because we could hardly see any fish in the water. When I mentioned this to my wife, one of the fellow sunbathers remarked, “I guess they disappeared because of the influx of republicans from the mainland!”

There was no Starbucks near the house and the local coffee shop was crazy expensive. But when you split an $8 extra-large latte and $14 extra-large Acai bowl between two people, it does taste pretty good.

Everything in Hawaii is more expensive because the shops jack up the prices due to the influx of tourists. However, based on my past experience, there is one place that has the same level of prices as the mainland. And that was Costco, the mecca for any Bania. The Costco where we did most of our shopping was special. Not only did it have far more variety of local items such as Hawaiian shirts, shorts and macadamia nuts, it overlooked pristine lush green mountains. Now that is what I call customer service.

The trip back to LA felt like déjà vu. We got upgraded to first class again. What are the odds that we would get the deal of the century a second time in a week? I guess they saved our promotion code. While holding the glass of champagne in the company of my fellow republicans, I had the urge to check out the seating situation at the back of the plane. Then I thought, why not just live in the moment. I am sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the full-size bed in economy in my future trips!

Raajeev Aggerwhil is a Los Angeles-based comedian. Follow him on Instagram @raajeevcomedy
To see his videos on YouTube, search for his name.