I’ve been flying in planes ever since I was that young kid kicking the back of the chair in front of me, making people wish that airplanes were for adults only. Each time I boarded an airplane since then, I would clutch my bags to my sides as I made my way down the aisle, passing by those lucky few that already boarded, sitting in their big, luxurious seats in first class. As I made my way to the back, I always wondered what was happening up there in those first few rows. What magical voyage were those first classers embarking on at a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet?
Last week, my questions were finally answered.
After taking an organized tour throughout Vietnam, I flew home with a layover in Taiwan. While I waited to board, I was approached by another member of my tour letting me know that we had all been upgraded to first class for the first leg of our flight from Hanoi to Taipei. As I heard this news, I looked back at the growing line at the economy check-in and smiled. I had just been promoted in the world of human aviation and I no longer had to work my way through the clusterfuck that is economy boarding.
“We will now board the first class and priority members” the flight attendant said over the loudspeaker. With that announcement I grabbed my bags and walked my happy ass down the jet bridge.
I stepped in through the doorway into the empty plane and there they were. Those pristine, giant chairs I was always forced to pass by were gleaming back at me like a group of angels asking me to join them for a party in the clouds. I found mine and marveled at it for a moment before sitting down.
Hello, dear friend. I have been waiting for you my entire life.
I let out a long sigh of comfort as the soft seat cushion comfortably greeted each half of my gluteus maximus. I then took stock of each feature of the chair and pressed all the buttons as if I was a little kid playing with a toy for the first time.
This button makes the footrest come out! Neato! This hook can hang the jacket I didn’t pack on the chair in front of me! Wow-wee!! This flexible reading light can be placed inches away from my Kindle! Zoop zoop!!!
I sat back in my big chair and watched as the peons passed me by towards their rows in the back and I remembered those dark, forlorn days I was in their shoes. Don’t worry, you sad, silly people, someday you may rise to my greatness.
Shortly after takeoff, I used the remote control located in the right armrest and set the seat back to a comfortable degree with my feet fully rested on the foot stool that extended from the bottom of the chair. A flight attendant then came out and handed me a menu that included the options that were being served for lunch. Salmon spring rolls followed by pork, bok choy, carrots and mushroom sautéed in a sweet brown sauce looked delightful. I shall eat it while I think of ways to perfect my backswing and improve my stock portfolio.
The first half of my decision was complete. Now to pick the drink. The spirits menu offered several top-shelf choices depending on each person’s vice. I passed on the Courvoisier and went to my go-to libation of single malt scotch. Glenmorangie from the Scottish highlands will do just fine.
Before I received my order, the flight attendant took the tray out from inside my armrest and placed a tablecloth on top. She then gave me a hot towel and a napkin that was wrapped around dining utensils – real flatware that included real knives. Apparently terrorists don’t fly first class.
I ate my meal, sipped my beverage, watched a movie on my personal TV screen and enjoyed being among the upper crust of society. The food was taken away and the glass of scotch was refilled two more times at three fingers per serving. As I started to feel nice and tight from the liquor and becoming one with my chair, the sad announcement that we were preparing to land broke me out of my elitist bliss.
The two-hour flight to Taipei ended before I could think about which country club to join once I got back home and the impact of the wheels to the ground both physically and mentally brought me back to Earth. My time in first-class had come to an end.
Walking to my next gate to board the long flight across the Pacific, I stopped at the airline’s desk to see if my luck could strike twice and get boosted up to airplane royalty once again. Alas, it wasn’t written in the stars. First-class was fully booked. Reluctantly, I stood in the long line at the next plane amongst the common folk that I temporarily convinced myself I was no longer part of. I squeezed my bags to my sides as I boarded the plane and walked by the bastards in first-class who were living the luxury I so briefly tasted.
Now that I’ve seen the wizard behind the pink curtain that is so tightly closed at the front of the plane, sitting with the flying monkeys in the back on the next flight seemed all the more tightly packed, the microwaved silver cartons of food all the more stale, and the trip all the more uncomfortable.