I watch the blonde shake her head and murmur something to herself.

‘Who wrote this ticket?’

‘Why? My traveling agent in Chicago, Satya (Dev), who is also a friend.’

‘This is really fantastic. But a bit complicated and I need to figure out how he came to the fare base he did. It’s gonna take me a while. Can you leave the ticket with me for a while?’

What Satya had actually done was this: Instead of the real and the obvious Sydney as the turning point of my around the world flight path, to calculate the fare, he had me turning around in Jakarta, Indonesia, a fictitious turning point. Totally legit, and by doing so, he was able to reduce the total fare by as much as a thousand bucks. Cheating himself out of at least $150.- in commission. Something didn’t matter to me and the accountants at Playboy certainly wouldn’t have cared. And the reason he had me return to Chicago from London was because by writing the ticket on the British Airlines stock, he would add to his volume with them and therefore get an extra percentage or two commission from them. Knowing well that I hated the idea of connecting in the congested chaos of London’s Heathrow Airport. But I agreed to do it as a small favor to him. You can always switch to Lufthansa or KLM when in Europe, he would say, the two of my most favorites on the trans-Atlantic route.

‘Your traveling agent must be brilliant. We couldn’t have figured out the fare the way he did.’ The blonde tells me.

●●●

Playboy had in-house traveling desk represented by a woman from the local traveling agency by the name of, I think Mary. The only time the in-house agency had to issue my ticket was a three way Chicago-Munich-Chicago-Munich ticket when I was first hired by the company and promptly shipped off to Europe. Beyond that, I was handed a corporate TWA Air Travel and an American Express cards. By the time I was brought to the corporate offices to work and live in Chicago, six years later, I had mastered ins and outs of how airlines worked. I always booked my own flights directly from the airlines and picked up the tickets at the airports just before boarding the plane. While still living in Santa Barbara, I would book my flights over the phone and take a bike ride to the little airport only a stone’s throw away from my home and pick up my ticket from the young man I will call Joe, at the United counter. He was quite pleasant and we would have good visits. It was a one man operation in which Joe did everything – checking you in, loading and unloading the baggage, taking your flight coupon and whatever else that needed to be done.

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