Jerry: Elaine, have you ever flown first class?
Jerry: All right then. See? You won't know what you're missing. I've flown first class, Elaine-- I can't go back to coach.
Seinfeld, season 4, episode 12
|Liv and I returning first class from the Bahamas a few years ago!|
Jerry was right. Due to a surprise upgrade a few years back I do know what is beyond that blue curtain. I know the plush seats, the neat little bag they give you with the cute little toiletries, the nuts warmed to perfection, the glass of champagne even before the push back. And best of all? That seat that lies way back with leg room galore. My last few flights, however, did not include any of these niceties as I flew with the rest of the herd in... yes... coach.
Over the years I've flown a number of legs around the world, some very pleasurable while others were not so comfortable and a few downright miserable. I do remember the days, though, of dressing up to fly. When I was little my mom always got out our nice clothes for the flight back to Grandma and Grandpa's in Minnesota. We gawked at the pilots, just like those girls gawked at Leo in Catch Me if You Can. The pilot would give a little wave, then head into the cockpit for the flight. The flight attendants, or stewardesses in those days, would smile and show us to our seats. Shortly thereafter they would bring a drink and the peanuts along with my own set of Jr. Wings. Soon a meal would be served in one of those compartmentalized servers along with another round of sodas. People were respectful of one another and careful not to push the seat back too far so as not to impinge on the person behind them. In those days, however, there was more room between seats so the push back didn't really matter as much (or maybe it just seemed that way because I was only 10?).
Today the world of flying is a whole new ball of wax. "Dressing" for the flight is nonexistent and the way of the in-flight meal is long gone. Well, unless you count the $6 "dog in a blanket" that is wrapped in cellophane and heated until droopy. If you are lucky you may get peanuts and a partially filled glass of soda. Heaven forbid they give you the entire can, however you are welcome to enjoy the eye roll you receive when you ask for it.
Two weeks ago my husband and I once again boarded a plane as we headed out for a much needed vacation. The blue curtain eluded me, but I was thrilled to find my economy comfort seat in an exit row with extraordinary leg room as I zipped my way across the Atlantic. With an international flight I actually did receive a meal, and it was amazingly really not bad. The flight attendants actually smiled and were friendly throughout, though how they held back the eye rolls was beyond me.
Sometimes I am simply amazed at my fellow humans and their lack of consideration for anyone around them. Such was the case when the young couple and their 1 year old daughter sat down in front of us. The couple arrived late, with no rush about them and pulled down the overhead bin above their seats to find it already full. The husband, a very slight man, attempted to then remove the luggage that was already above him, but was not able to get the case out. At that point he turned to the passengers and began asking whose case it was and then proclaiming at large that it needed to be moved so he could put his up there. The smiling attendant jumped in and helped him locate a space a few rows away and he reluctantly allowed her to do so.
At this point the young daughter began to fuss, so the mom simply plopped her onto the floor and turned her back. The baby tottered across the aisle and found great interest in the oxygen bottles and tubes sticking out of them. Within minutes the same smiling attendant returned, scooped up the baby returning her to her parents and mentioning that the oxygen bottles might not be an appropriate way for her to entertain herself. Nearly 30 seconds later the baby was back on the floor as the mom continued rifling through her backpack. Tottering up the aisle the baby found an older woman's handbag and began pulling it out from under the seat where it was stowed. The older woman said "No-no!" but to no avail.
Eventually the doors were closed and the smiling flight attendant announced that the Captain had informed her that the plane was ready to push back, however the several people standing in the aisles (including the baby) were not allowing the airplane to move. Looking over my shoulder to see who was standing I was surprised to see no less that 10 people shuffling about the aisles! Two were literally arguing over seats causing a flight attendant to intervene and the flight was delayed until people finally sat in down.
Taxiing went well and the Captain announced that we were indeed next in line for take off. He rounded the corner to take the runway and my eyes widened as a lady 3 rows up unbuckled her seatbelt and decided it now was the time to head to the loo. The smiling attendant jumped up and kindly demanded she return to her seat just as the engines powered up and the plane began its race down the runway.
Finally in the air, my seat reclined slightly and my book on my lap, I took a great sigh as I settled in and closed my eyes for a few moments only to have my book pulled from my lap and dropped onto the floor as the little 1 year old once again began her roaming of the cabin. I pretended not to notice, hoping she would wander elsewhere and luckily she did. Hours later I noticed she was bouncing up and down on her mother's tray table as she snatched at the sleeping older gentleman's hair in row in front of her. Amazing... I simply don't know how to respond to something like that.
The sun set and then shortly thereafter began to rise as we made our way to the continent. Excitement ran through me as I wiped my eyes and took a stretch. Returning to my seat I was shocked to find my attempting to sleep husband accompanied by the sister of the young couple in front of us. She was standing in our row swinging the baby back and forth as she screeched "Wheee!" on each upward swing. I stood in shock for a moment before asking if I could step back into my row and reach my seat. She did indeed step aside only to re-enter as soon as I had my belt buckled continuing with the "Whheee" and the swinging. My patience depleted I asked her to please step out of our row as my husband was attempting to sleep. Flashing an eye roll along with a sigh she plopped the baby back into mom's lap walking away as the still smiling flight attendant pushed her breakfast cart up the aisle. Overall not a bad flight, just not quite the in-flight entertainment I was looking forward to. But it does make a good story!
Some 6,000 miles behind us and more than 22 hours since leaving home, my husband and I felt the excitement course through our bodies as the Boeing 767 descended softly to the ground.
Destination: The Eternal City of Rome!
To be continued...