I like to think I live a modest life. I am not rich, nor do I pretend to be. I live within my means. Therefore, it is always interesting to me when I get a glimpse of high life. I had such an opportunity last week when I flew to Missouri for a friend’s wedding.
I used my frequent flyer miles for the trip. The only flights available that didn’t require leaving my the house in the middle of the night or having a layover in a second-tier town, like Chicago, were double the frequent flyer points.
I thought to myself, “If I’m going to spend double the points, why not fly first class?” It was going to cost me the same amount of points.
The saver in me felt guilty. I thought maybe I should sacrifice and only spend half the points. Chicago isn’t THAT bad; they have those hot dogs. But alas, I decided to treat myself.
While booking my flight with American Airlines, I asked the lovely woman on the other end of the phone if I got a meal with my first class seat. She assured me I’d get lunch on the way to St. Louis. I then asked if I would be served free alcohol. Again, the customer service rep informed me I can drink to my heart’s desire. I’m not big on drinking, but I wanted to get my points’ worth.
Before finalizing my ticket, the ever-patient AA rep asked if I had any more questions. I asked, “Can you seat me next to a cute guy?” She replied with, “Sure! Do you want him to have money, too?” Well, I’m not going to turn that down…
Months later, the day of my free drinking came. I was excited to find out what first class AA had to offer. My only other experience with first class was a British Airways flight from New York to London where I basically had a bed with sheets, was given champagne upon arrival, and received brand-new PJs! While I wasn’t going to experience a long transatlantic flight as an AA elite, I convinced myself St. Louis was the Paris of the Midwest.
I should point out I was traveling with four friends on the same flight, all of whom were banished to the back in coach like every other commoner. When we arrived at the airport, we were all equal. But as soon as we approached security, it was clear that I was special. I was told to queue the PRIORITY seating line for quicker security check. Yep, I’m priority.
My Mary Tyler Moore moment where I was feeling I could have it all came to a rude awakening when I was selected for a random search. I could rant about that experience on its own and give a speech about the lack of trust I have for the TSA, especially after this incident, but frankly that would make me feel like an average joe… again, I’m priority.
Quickly I learned priority or not, I have to wait like everyone else. Our flight was stuck on the runway for an hour – the back and the front of the plane. Excuse me, but you told me I’m priority! I believed you! I found myself cold, hungry and sleepy. Everyone had to remain seated, so I couldn’t even ask for a blanket. This sure felt like my normal modest life.
The light at the end of the tunnel came about an hour later when we were finally airborne. Upon my return from the first class bathroom (this one was like the others in the back of the plane), I found a ramekin of warm nuts at my comfortable seat. Hello!
A few minutes later, the friendly flight attendant asked if I’d like a drink. After telling me my multitude of choices, I selected a Gin and Tonic – had to cash in on all the points I spent. Sadly, they didn’t have Hendricks so I settled for Beefeater. My drink came in a glass… like a real one. I was starting to feel special, until a hoodlum from the back tried to use OUR bathroom. Honestly, didn’t he see the curtain? Thankfully our flight attendant explained the class system of the skies.
After my warm nuts and G&T, I ordered coffee and water. It wasn’t the normal French press I’m used to, but I suppose it was good enough. I then had a fantastic lunch, followed by a cup of tea and a delicious cookie. I don’t even eat this well in the New York City restaurants I frequent. The man next to me, who wasn’t a cute, young or rich guy – you let me down AA – only ordered the basics. Didn’t he realize this was all free?
I was reminded of who I really am mid-meal when I opened my package of hummus and accidentally flung some at the man sitting next to me. I suppose no matter how luxe of a setting I am in, I will always feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when her escargot flew across the room of a posh restaurant. As my flight landed, I was utterly stuffed.
My next challenge was how to manage eating BBQ with my lower-class friends from the back of the plane. Second lunch it is.
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