Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flying First Class

I took this picture with my arm stretched out behind me.
Couldn't do that in coach! Note the linens and china.
You can also see my shoes. My legs are fully extended.

I usually fly coach, so was totally unprepared for the class shock of suddenly finding myself in first class on an international flight. I'd spent a frustrating day at several airports being re-routed from one flight to another and put on delay after delay. The flight staff were as frustrated as the hundreds of travellers stranded and sent to stand in line after line, myself included.

Then suddenly, I was the last person boarding the plane for Europe and was guided to my seat in first class. Here's what it was like:

I was greeted by not one, not two, but THREE flight attendants who called me by name, handed me a travel essentials bag, asked for my cocktail order and what newspaper I would like. After a day of being told "no," and "there's nothing I can do; you'll have to stand in line," I nearly cried at the sudden kindness. Seriously. I was exhausted and nearly cried. But I didn't.

I sat back with my water (a headache prevented me from ordering a cocktail) and waited for the flight attendant to collect it since we were about to take off. But they didn't. In first class you get to keep your drinks the whole time.

Then the flight attendants came around with menues. Menues!! I chose shrimp cocktail, salad with viniagrette dressing, fish with plum sauce, plantains, and green beans. I could have had steak, but did I mention it was 11:00pm and I'd scarfed down a McDonald's hamburger about an hour before? Another flight attendant came around with steaming hot towels so that we could all freshen up. It felt like heaven. I wiped off 13 hours worth of airport grime and then ordered another glass of water.

Moments later the flight attendant came around and set our tables. This was absolutely verging on bizarre. I unfolded my tray table (which was not attached to the back of the seat in front of me) and she covered it with a linen tablecloth. I kid you not! Linen! She set a linen napkin with a full set of silverware on my table: 3 forks, a knife, and 3 spoons. Then she then brought me a dish of warm roasted peanuts. Warm! Roasted! This was a far cry from the paltry pack of peanuts I could have bought on my last flight if we'd had enough time between turbulence and 'fasten seatbelt' warnings.

Now, I'm about to get whiny, so go ahead and hate me. But remember, I was exhausted, and it was nearly  midnight, and I still had a full day of rerouted flights and layovers ahead of me, not to mention the time change coming. So, I found myself facing a first class dilemma: partake of all these luxuries? Or sleep?

I opted to eat my food as quickly as possible, skipping dessert (I could have had creme brulee!) and trying to sleep for the remaining three hours before they woke me to serve breakfast. (If you don't hate me by now, you never will.)

So - sleeping accommodations. Well, it was no 3/4" reclining seat like in coach. And my personal space was not impacted in any way by the person reclining in front of me. I had my very own area that had so much leg room that I couldn't even reach the foot rest (ottoman) until I reclined my seat the full 180 degrees. Which I did. I turned off my personal TV (I had my pick of shows, movies, games or music) and laid back with my down blanket and pillow. I set my glasses on the nightstand beside me and went to sleep.

Three blissful hours later I awoke to the announcement that it was time for breakfast. We had an hour until we landed and then were ushered off the plane before everyone else. It was unreal. I can't believe they didn't offer full massages while we were flying up in those suddenly-friendly skies. First class was definitely first class all the way.

Well, not all the way. Unfortunately, after my next 4-hour layover, I found myself back where I really belonged - in coach, pondering whether or not to spring for a bag of peanuts, which were sure to be room temperature, at best.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds so fun! I bet you felt like a queen. I'd like to fly first class once in my life, just to experience it, but generally I'd rather spend my money doing stuff when I get to where I'm going.