July 2, 2015 will go down as a very special date for me. It was the first time I'd ever flown first class, and now I'm ruined forever. How can I ever go back to steerage now that I've experienced flying as a classy motherfucker?
When my uncle passed away years ago, he left my family his unused air miles. He had about a gazillion. My brother would use them to fly to Houston to see his girlfriend who lived there for a few years, but other than that, they just sat there and expired. I should note that they were with U.S. Air. Until recently when they merged with American Airlines, it seemed that they never went anywhere I wanted to travel. Or at least, it wasn't the cheapest option if I wanted to fly with friends (that prize is reserved for Southwest).
But since I was traveling alone to the AA hub (Dallas), I thought I'd take advantage of the miles. As it turned out, the only seats available to fly with miles from NYC to Dallas on 4th of July weekend were in first class. Oh no! What a horrible problem to have! As a frugal lady, this one actually did sting a little. I persevered like a champ and enjoyed the benefits of being stuck with a first class ticket.
Here's what I experienced:
Leg room for days. This is an obvious one, but something you can't even comprehend on a plane unless you've sat in a first class seat. When a person reclines in coach, you get a tray jammed into your chest and can feel yourself becoming an asshole. Alternatively, when a person reclines in front of you in first class, you literally don't even notice. I also had plenty of room for my "personal item" (a.k.a. duffle bag) plus my feet.
Magical tray tables. I once sat in a economy plus bulk head seat on the way to Dubai and experienced a similar tray table situation, but this one was way better. Instead of folding down from the seat in front of you as tables do in coach, these came out of an extra wide chair arm. And there were TWO. One table just for your drink! And the other table actually folded in two, so I guess you can say there were really THREE tables! I know this is a dumb thing to get excited about, but I like to spread my stuff out on planes, and this keeps it tidy.
The extra wide arm rest was also key because it meant that I could actually share it with my seat mate. Instead of the usual fighting throughout the flight for elbow space.
Real Dishware + Food. This may still look like typical airline food but I promise you it was better. Warm grilled chicken with a fresh greek salad and cheesy manicotti? Lean Cuisine this was not.
It wasn't until this meal that I realized how far real silverware and cloth napkins can go to make you feel like an actual person. Not some piece of shit, plastic wielding sub-human back in coach.
Also, since they serve your food on a tray with a placemat, you don't feel like you're seasoning your meal with old germs from previous passengers. Gross.
Champers. I'll be honest - I didn't partake in this perk because I wanted to be fresh and (more importantly) not full of gas when I met up with Cat. On the way back it was only 9 a.m. And yeah, I guess I could have made mimosas, but I didn't. Get over it. There were plenty of people drinking around me for the both of us.
Personal Flight Attendant. Though I'd known about this one, I didn't think it would affect my in-flight experience too much. I was wrong. Water running a little low? They got you before you even have to ask. Need a better blanket? They got that too. Constant trash collection? You betcha. Want a nosh? They have bar snacks on hand. Conclusion: two flight attendants for just 10 people -- it makes a HUGE difference.
For our next big trip, Staci and I will be relegated back to steerage, which is sincerely unfortunate since its a transatlantic flight. I just don't know if I'll be able to handle it knowing what I know now. Better check how much an upgrade is...