First Class


Its been years since I’ve flown first class. The first one didn’t really matter. It was on the upper deck of a 747 on a military overnight transatlantic flight from Philadelphia to Frankfurt, West Germany. This was back in the day when the distinction had to be made between East & West Germany. The only real memory is waking up over the lights of London below. That was 28? years ago.

Now, due to circumstances, which include last minute booking and favorable upgrade pricing, I am traveling from PWM to ATL in Row 1 Seat D. That’s the right window seat. Normally, I’m stuffed back in coach in seats B or E. Translation, the middle seat between aisle and window. This seat ought to be severely discounted for the sheer inhumanity. On one side or the other is a stranger. A stranger that you pretend to ignore while sharing a physical proximity that approaches public intimacy that would be banned & illegal in any other venue. Not to mention the overlapping elbow space – either stretched into an ergonomically incorrect position that OSHA would ban in the workplace, or elbows tucked in tightly into the side – for endless hours after hours. IF ever investigated by the Geneva Convention, this could be considered to be a type of voluntary torture.

Not in first class, there is room without imposed intimacy. Four seats occupying the space of six. A meal was served with wine, china plates, linen napkins and real silverware. Drinks are served without the swiping of a credit card, or splashing into a lap. The meal menu had dual choices beyond the false choices – ‘we don’t have that’ – in the back of some aged inflight magazine jammed into the seat in front of you, perhaps even with the pages sneezed together with the mucus glue of a nasal exhalation.

Air travel is convenient when one considers the time and effort it would take to go from place through lower space to another place. I’ve made this trip on land before. Several times in fact. At best, it is always two hard full days of relentless tedious driving from one full tank to the next nearly empty tank. Pausing only to refuel, stretch, yawn, relief and continue on.

First class takes the barely endured tolerable and turns into a pleasant passage of time, through space, and into the next place. It won’t always happen to be this fortunate. But for this one interlude, it was nice to not have to endure the drama of zone boarding and hope for overhead storage. Did I mention that every two seats in first class share one overhead storage?

While on the subject of overhead storage, as busy as the airlines are with fee enhancing revenue, why or why are they not reserving and charging for highly desired overhead storage? That would eliminate much of the drama, turbulence and competition during aircraft boarding.

I hoped for a higher altitude sunset picture. Instead, we ascended into a frontal system draped high across the eastern seaboard. The line that would be the horizon is cloaked into a dimming pastel grayish-white.

The descent has begun. Time to transition into the next phase of getting from here to there.


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