Flying Up Front

For the past thirty-some years, I dreamed of being bumped to first class and riding in the front of plane instead of squeezing into the sardine section of economy at the back.

Twenty-four hours before take off, when we logged on to Delta/KLM/Air France website for our seat assignments, we found out our return flight to Switzerland was overbooked. We were offered the “unique opportunity” to upgrade our tickets to for a relatively “small fee.”

We bit the bullet and bought it and let me tell you, nothing beats flying biz on long haul flight.

Once you wave the Business Elite ticket, airline personnel roll out the red carpet. Talk about celebrity status. I felt like Lady Gaga, Princess Kate and First Lady Obama all rolled in one. Check in is a breeze. First class never waits in line- first on the plane, first off, first served and no queue at the lavatory.

We received perks a ga ga from the get go, from the 20 extra pounds luggage allowance to complimentary toiletry bag filled with contraband toothpaste and lotion, to fluffy down pillows and comforters. For the first time ever, instead of pacing up and down the plane to keep my legs from going numb, I flew in comfort.

Pampered from the moment we were welcomed aboard; champagne flowed before the plane even began to taxi to the runway. Just after take off, the stewardesses whip through the aisles with tablecloths and dishes of warm almonds and cashews and cocktails.

No picnic fare in front of the plane: real cutlery, linens, glassware and our own individual salt and pepper shakers. Five-course first class cuisine is so fine it makes economy class fare look like dog food. No waiting until the end of the flight for your tray table to be finally cleared, as soon as one course is finished, plates are whisked away. Service rated right up there with a four star restaurant. No wonder, according to my Frenchman, four flight attendants served the 36 people in business class and that included half dozen kids, whose feet still didn’t touch floor, which seemed like a waste of precious space.

The best part of flying at the front of the plane was the legroom and the remote control recliner seat, plusher than my favorite chair back home.  I kid you not; the seat had a dozen different buttons. The footrests raised, backrest reclined, lumbar roll relieved low back pressure and the headrest actually rests the head.  After a glass of Mercurey, one of Burgundies best, and death by chocolate cheesecake, I was out for the count.

I can get into this fine art of flying at the front of the plane. For anyone with a bad back or past the half a century mark, elite class takes the pain out of a nine-hour ride. The only drawback, jet lag still hits the next day.


Comments

  1. Laurent

    3 out of 4 times I crossed the Atlantic Ocean I ended up next to someone who appeared to not have operated anything digital or menu-driven over at least the last twenty years, and having been a computer teacher I can’t stand watching such a person getting nowhere with it, and end up explaining the remote control of the video screen. Although during my last flight there wasn’t a video screen to remotely control to begin with, so I could be left to my book finally.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Oh Laurent, this is so funny. I am just like those passengers you get stuck sitting next to 3 out of 4 times that you fly. On behalf of all of them…thank you for your kind patience!

  2. Clara

    Hey Pat, you rock star!
    This piece made me belive in the possibility of a thing:) So glad it happened for you.

    Peace & blessing
    Clara.

    I agree with Bette, you should send this to the airlines!

  3. Kathleen Pooler

    Oh my gosh, Pat, thank you for taking me on board to ride First Class with you! I kept thinking of all the unpleasant realities I have experienced in flying-crowded seats, no pillows or blankets (without a fee),oh those skimpy salty pretzel and peanut bags and the long wait to de-plane. Next time I fly, I’ll remember this post( and probably weep!) ~ I didn’t even know what I was missing 🙂
    Hugs across the miles,
    Kathy

  4. Bette

    Hi Pat, send this blog to the Airline – a lifelong Upgrade should be yours! Cheers! Bette

  5. Lee Isbell

    I have an Awards ticket on Air France in the fall (and let’s do away with the idea that an Awards flight is a free flight — it’s not) and was surprised that it’s Economy Plus. It’s not up there with business class, but I’m promised more seat room and other perks. I am soooo looking forward to that, and am delighted that you were bumped up.

  6. Debbie Cushman

    Hi Pat, I just love your detail! You sure can paint a picture. I have to admit, Tom and I got to enjoy such luxury in the summer of 2010 when we flew home from Germany with friends. Like you, the flight was overbooked. Not only did we not have to pay a fee, but we each received $800 U.S. credit on our credit card ($1600 total!!!) and got to fly up front in wonderful comfort! We actually had a menu with 3 choices of each appetizer, entree and dessert. Also, a number of choices of wine. Like you we had real cutlery and a Lufthansa tin with socks, earplugs, etc. (I’ve never used any of it, but kept as a souvenir! Don’t know why i’m saving it!) Talk about being spoiled! Ah yes, the leg room and reclining chair was awesome and the best part of all! As often as you fly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner for you! Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your family in 2012!

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Unbelievable Debbie…they actually gave you money to fly up front!!! I bet that is a trip you will never forget. Thanks for sharing your story…will give readers hope the next time they take to the air. After hearing this, I am going to fly Lufthansa next time! Happy New Year back at you and all the best for 2012!

  7. Patty Carlson

    It’s karma, Pat! You deserved that as much as anybody. I had a similar experience as your friend Debbie. I took my daughter to Germany in 2006 and on the return flight were told they upgraded us to first class. I can tolerate quite a bit of discomfort (especially when it comes to saving money), but it’s good for the soul to have the niceties in life sometimes!

  8. Marcie

    Ms. Pat, do you submit your stories to airline magazines? There is an audience who could use your humor and can totally relate to your experiences.

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