How the fuck are you supposed to book a seat on a partner airline, like when you fly Lufthansa by booking on United?

You know what makes me happy? It makes me happy when one of you readers comment and ask a question. Then I have a topic for another post, and I can feel briefly useful during our never ending march towards irrelevancy and death. I know, I bring the cheer around here!

Anyway, trusty reader Jack posted a comment yesterday in which he asked where the best place to get a handy in Manhattan is, and the answer is obviously 32nd St. No, no, I kid. He asked, “When you book thru United, it doesn’t allow you to see the seat layout and says something like, too bad so sad if you want to choose your seat. How did the seat assignment/choice process unfold for you?”

That, as they say in preschool, is a good question! And one I even have the answer to. And it was definitely relevant when wanting to make sure that I was in business class upstairs on the 747, not downstairs.

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Oh yeah my flight home was fucking awesome

I converted 70,000 Chase points to United miles and that got me business on Lufthansa. I know everyone says you want First on Lufthansa so you can be driven across the tarmac in a Porsche or whatever, but I was happy because I was on a 747-800, and those ain’t gonna be around forever. And the 747 has the upstairs, which I’ve always wanted to fly on. On LH, the whole upstairs is business, about 40 seats or so. It was like a plane within a plane. I mean, sure, I wish I had seen it in the lounge days of Pan Am, but you gotta take what you can get.

Someone I met at my Moldovan hostel was coincidentally on the same flight, but in the back of the bus. She’s 19, and I’m 130, so she can deal with that, and I can’t. I went to visit her, and I felt like I was walking through class stratification embodied as I passed through each successive cabin, going from quite private (upstairs), comfortable but less private (business downstairs) to tolerable but not very private (premium economy) to get-me-the-hell-out-of-here-there-are-so-many-people (economy). Like Snowpiercer.

The upstairs was really nice and quiet, and I drank a bunch of herbal liqueurs and slept. I mean, what would you have done?

Moldova/Transnistria: Final Day

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Transnistria is one of the weirdest fucking places I’ve ever been. Good weird. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is so weird about it, but it’s a place that is on the one hand connected to the world via their phones, and on the other, very, very isolated. You don’t get the sense that a lot of people come and go. Which makes sense, since Transnistrian passports aren’t considered by other countries to be, you know, passports. If a resident wants to go elsewhere, they’re going to need to try to also become citizens of Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, or elsewhere. Continue reading

Moldova Transnistria: Sunday

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Moldova’s eastern border is Ukraine. But down a strip of that border exists the “State of Transnistria” (or Pridnestrovia, as its Russian-speaking population calls it), population 500,000. I know this sounds like something I made up, and that’s because, officially, every UN country considers it to be part of Moldova. Moldova begrudgingly desribes Transnistria to be an “autonomous region” within Moldova. Continue reading

Moldova: Saturday

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On Saturday, we woke up mid-morning, which is to say too fucking early, and I felt about as well as one does the day after drinking many glasses of wine and cognac the night before, which is to say like ass. Coffee and breakfast were required.

We went back to Coffee Molka, but it was shuttered until noon. As we wandered around, looking for somewhere else to go, we experienced an irritating shortage of places able to caffeinate and feed us. I guess Moldovans like sleeping in on weekends as much as anyone else. Eventually we wandered into what appeared to be the cafe district. Continue reading

Moldova: Friday

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(If you wanna see some pics of my Moldova trip, follow me on Instagram at ivanxqz .)

We woke up Friday, and went to the coffee place down the street from our hostel, Coffee Molka. We ended up spending the next four hours there, talking to the gregarious and deeply knowledgeable owner, Alexander. His is not an ordinary coffee spot — he only serves Turkish coffee, and he has set it up as a coffee museum, with equipment and liqueurs and various coffee-related items. He wasn’t going to let us order something without us first smelling various jars of coffee grinds. My fave was the one with cardamom. We asked him to make us what he likes. He prepared an arabic coffee with cognac for us. (They drink early and often in Moldova.) Continue reading