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Confessions Of A First-Class First-timer

Fri Dec 01, 2000 4:53 am

I got this from flyertalk.com. It was originally from the Chicago Sunday Tribune.

Confessions of a First-Class first-timer

By Scott Lunsford
Special to the Tribune
Sunday, November 26, 2000

An hour and a half. That's how long we sat there in the plane on some dark piece of tarmac somewhere at O'Hare. No explanation. But I didn't care. I was in an aisle seat, and I looked back at a curtain that slimly separated me from what I used to be, what I was destined to be all my life: a Coach flyer. But not that night, not for the next 10 glorious hours, flying to Paris on our first trans-Atlantic flight.

For my wife, Shannon, and I were First-Class patrons of this 747 Boeing.

"Patrons" is not the right word. "A-couple-who-got-to-the-airport- so-late-the-airline-gave-away-their-reserved-seats- so-they-had-to-wait-in-line-with-other-hopefuls- but-were-eventually-pulled-aside-by-the-ticket-agent- who-said-These-are-really-great-seats,-bon-voyage" is more likely the word.

We had been standing in line with other latecomers, who were also waiting to get on this flight. Then magic happened:

"Mr. and Mrs. Lunsford," said the ticket agent. "Can you step over here, please?"

So we did, and the agent, like a wizard, pulled two tickets out of thin air and sent us on our way.

Row 4. Seats A and B.

Whoever he was, we loved him. We loved him because he didn't know he had just given us the best beginning to a nine-day honeymoon in France and Spain.

We couldn't believe it. This is how they reward you for being late. Shannon giggled for about 10 minutes, while I crawled on the floor looking for my jaw.

Life looks different from First Class. Even before you get to your seat. We sat at the gate, waiting to board and looking at others passengers, wondering which of them would be lucky enough to sit with us in First Class. Or are they Coach? It had become a dirty word. A dirty thing to be. I was once dirty, and had been cleansed.

First Class. It is majestic. Regal. And as I admired all things around me, I saw them. Seats A and B, standing like mountains in Row 4. Shannon took the window, I placed myself into this throne of wonderment.

I was lost.

Oh, what's this? What's in here? A TV! What do you mean, Do I want orange juice or champagne? Let me decide. Hmmm . . . What's this for? Ow, Ow, OW, OW! . . . I'm sorry can I have another hot towel? My fingers are so sensitive, I dropped mine on the floor. A choice . . . of wine?

I knew our fairy tale honeymoon would end soon. All of the anxious thoughts that could ever appear to me were running through my brain now: We'd fall into the Atlantic; Greenland would erupt into this monolithic whiteness, and we'd slam right into the side of it; we'd be asked to move because we're supposed to be in Coach.

First Class. I didn't belong there. It wasn't what I was.

Back home, I was raised by a family of meager means, and I later promised myself that I'd never have any servitude at all -- that money, and the stigmas attached to it, would not rule my life. Oh, but I didn't buy these tickets. They were a gift, and I should feel good about receiving a gift that I didn't earn . . .

But I didn't know how I'm supposed to feel. I didn't know if I'm supposed to appreciate it or denounce it or just sit there, recline 180 degrees, go to sleep and wake up in Paris. But my very essence wouldn't let me. That's not how my grandparents raised me -- two people who had never even been on a plane.

What's the big deal? People fly First and Business Class all the time. It doesn't mean they're snooty or above anybody else.

I could never forget what Coach was like, but I also felt a little disappointed to know that First Class was making its final descent and that I would be back at the back a few days from now on the return.

Days later, flying west over the Atlantic, my legs didn't stretch out as far as they had once upon a time. I had to look over other passengers' seats to watch TV. And I had to pull back the tin foil to eat my dinner in a cardboard tray.

I was home.


Jeremiah Teahan

Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
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RE: Confessions Of A First-Class First-timer

Fri Dec 01, 2000 6:22 am

Very good!
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens

RE: Confessions Of A First-Class First-timer

Fri Dec 01, 2000 9:35 am

Cool post man, I enjoyed it.
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 1999 9:34 am

RE: Confessions Of A First-Class First-timer

Fri Dec 01, 2000 3:58 pm

Thanks for sharing the article!

RE: Confessions Of A First-Class First-timer

Thu Dec 07, 2000 9:13 am

This article was great!

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