April 27, 2013: First Class

Kristi...my friend and awesome guest blogger today :)

Kristi Reimers (dear friend, running comrade, subject of many past blogs) is the writer of this funny blog
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I was just the first one to step off the plane. My ticket: Seat 1D; First Class. That really was a first. Sitting in First Class is certainly not routine for me.  I am solidly a back of the plane, happy to have an aisle seat, kind of gal.

The thought that struck me as I was pampered and treated significantly better than the “economy girl,” was the difference a few hundred dollars can make. Not that this is petty change, but I quickly realized this paid-for splurge included the privilege to board first, walk down a special aisle just for special people, not feel like a herded animal, and to be treated with utmost courtesy.

I was surprised last evening when I saw First Class printed on my boarding pass. This was the doing of my travel agent who helped change my flight from Boston “lock down day” to a later flight. These must have been the only seats left, I presumed.

My First Class adventure began as I boarded the plane.  With my just purchased bottle of Starbucks “Coffee and Milk” in hand, the attendant asked if I would like a glass of ice. I stared at her for a second before being able to respond, “uh, no thank you”--my knee jerk reaction to requests that take me off guard.  I still wasn’t ready for the attention when they asked if they could take my coat (no thank you). When I saw that I had a newly wrapped blanket and pillow, they asked me again if I wanted something drink (no thank you).

I tried to look confident as I assessed my seating situation and remembered that I had to get all my goodies out of my bag before I stowed overhead. Of course there was no “seat in front of you” when you are in 1D. Politeness was continually exuded to all of us First Classers and why shouldn't it? There are just a few of us; plenty of love and attention to go around.

After a quick 1 hour and 32 minutes, which included passing a basket full of bananas and snacks (food on flight!? Still inhibited, I took only a banana), it happened. I was the first one to deplane. I heard the knock from the other side, the door opened, and the flight attendant gave me the nod. I had arrived.

The second leg of my flight was starting to board as I walked up. I quickly took my place in the “Skyways Elite” line. No waiting for families with small children for me. Onward! I grew impatient as the wait took several minutes.

I boarded my next flight confidently as a First Classer as I looked for someone to take my coat. I had already thought about the answer to the next question, which was given before I even sat down: “Yes, orange juice please.” It arrived in a real glass tumbler, on ice. I began to read my Kindle (just like lady next to me; I belong!) as I realize we are taxiing down the runway. No harsh “Please turn that off!” had befallen my ears with no frowning face impatiently staring at me. When I realized my wrongdoing, I turned it off. I did not want to get into trouble in First Class.

A bit hungry I pulled out a smashed bar from the bottom of my bag to eat (Economy Class habit).  Soon I dozed, and awoke to yet another unfamiliar request. I had learned by now not to react with no thank you, because it probably meant passing up something good. I waited to hear it again as I came out of the fog of sleep. Yes, I heard right: “Would you like some lunch? We have salad or sandwich.”  YES PLEASE! “Something to drink?” YES PLEASE! Bring it on oh joyous arugula salad with pecans, chicken and balsamic vinaigrette, complete with fresh fruit and a brownie.

As I finished my meal, I am now fully acclimated to First. I simply gave the passing attendant the universal sign for “I’m done, take it away”.  With that, the tray with the cute little salt and pepper shakers, the real utensils, and tablecloth was whisked away (I’ve saved the brownie for later – pedestrian??).

While meeting my every need, I also hear the attendant asking others with a joyful, lilting tone, “More cranapple? Another gin and tonic? Anything I can get you?” In my mind, this contrasts with Economy-speak; the repeating drone of: “Something to drink? Something to drink? Something to drink? We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, tea and coffee-something to drink?” Ah, those Economy folk, they don’t deserve much better, though. We’re up here in First, we paid more money.

I can’t help but think that having the money to fly First Class is a metaphor for life. People with means essentially buy an easier life; often a more stress-free life when it comes to the basic needs. Forget to bring food? No problem, we’ve got you covered! No time to buy coffee in the terminal, we’ve got fresh waiting for you. Don’t worry about luggage, there’s always room in the overhead bin.You’re tired and cold? We have a blanket waiting for you!

People without means are left with a more difficult life; one that takes more work to obtain comfort (I was just interrupted to make sure I didn’t need anything else before we land). They are living the Economy Class life: Hungry on that flight? Tough luck we don’t even have pretzels. Want to sleep? Bunch up your coat for a pillow. Thirsty? There should be something coming in about 30 minutes.Yes, a person can get used to this First Class life, and no wonder so many people work so hard to get it.

Mom used to get exasperated at Dad’s hard work, often passing up vacations and social events in the quest to earn a better living. She would say “Don, money can’t buy happiness!” His response: “It sure doesn’t hurt.” I agree Dad, but it sure doesn't hurt. Just ask us First Classers.

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