I’ve never flown first class, and it seems unlikely that I ever will, but that doesn’t bother me at all.
I’m so terrified of flying that all the perks would be wasted on me. Screw the comfy slippers, the free food and drinks, and the chance to share armrests with prime passengers, I just want to get my sorry ass back on earth as fast as possible.
However, I had some experiences during my recent trip to California that are still bugging me, fear of flying notwithstanding.
My flight out of JFK started off well. I had a nice chat with a skycap who cracked jokes and made me feel right at home. When I mentioned that my driver’s license photo was old, he laughed and said “I’d recognized you anywhere, Mr. Lenihan.”
Then I saw a guy in the terminal who looked so much like Rod Stewart I thought he’d start singing “Maggie May” at any second.
And then I got on the plane.
There was a young couple in front of me who were using their seats like a park bench--and this was before takeoff. People, please, simmer down. The flight isn’t that long and if you really want to join the Mile High Club, head for the restroom like everybody else.
Then there was the guy behind me with three animals—I mean children—whom he could not begin to control. They were screaming and bouncing all over the place and even in my Xanax-induced stupor I was getting cranky.
“C’mon, guys…” the feckless father whined in a weenie voice.
C’mon, guys? How about “shut up you little bastards before I stuff all three of you into the overhead luggage compartment”? Jesus, where are those Catholic school nuns when you need them?
The best part came last, though, as we were getting ready to land at LAX. I could feel the plane slowly descending and I was getting happier with each passing second. Yes, I had cheated death once again! Kiss my keester, Mr. Reaper, I’m going to Hollywood!
Then the plane suddenly began ascending. And by suddenly, I mean, “oh, my God are we playing ‘Top Gun’ here or what?”
“That didn’t feel right,” a young woman sitting next to me said.
Coming and Going
You’re goddamn right it didn’t feel right. It felt so severely un-right that I wanted to put a hammerlock on the nearest flight attendant and demand an explanation. Luckily the pilot decided to clue us in.
“There’s wrong nothing with the plane, ladies and gentleman,” he said unconvincingly. “There’s just some equipment on the runway.”
Equipment on the runway? Like what—fire engines? Whoopee cushions? Ancient Etruscan sex toys? Whatever it is, get it the hell out of my way.
And what is it doing there anyway? Didn’t they know we were coming? They should’ve tidied up first.
I always clean my place before people come over. I want them to feel right at home. And I don’t want them playing with my ancient Etruscan sex toys.
Okay, so California was a blast, I had a great time with my uncle and his wife, and then all to soon it was time to get back to Brooklyn. However, this time the travel trouble started even sooner—like right outside the terminal.
I got a surly skycap at LAX who seemed to have majored in attitude at reform school.
As I stood on line waiting to check my luggage, an obviously wealthy middle-aged couple were deposited right next to me and the skycap took care of them first.
It’s important to note that American Airlines has not one, but two gates marked “Premium” at LAX, where these two should have gone and yet there they were, horning in on the peon parade.
Did I make a scene? Scream and demand an explanation? No, of course not. I was too worried about the impending flight to start a curbside donnybrook.
Great, I thought, I get into a shouting match with the gold dust twins and then my plane will go down and this will be my last act on God’s earth.
Once inside the terminal I waited for the premiums to board the plane first and walked to the gate when my group was finally called.
But I noticed several first class types coming up along the side of the line, looking to get on board. Apparently they were too busy foreclosing on little old ladies’ homes to hit the gangplank when they were supposed to.
God forbid the blue bloods should stand on the same line as the monkey-people, so a flight attendant quickly opened up a second line to handle the riff-raff--like yours truly.
Both lines have these podiums with attendants checking our tickets. But something on the first class podium caught my eye. It was a little plastic cup of pretzels, apparently put out there so the high rollers would have something to munch on before take-off.
As I boarded the plane, I thought, why don’t you give us the finger while you’re at it?
I’m thinking of writing a letter to the airline, which means I’ll never do it. It’s not worth the effort and it sure as hell won’t change anything either in the sky or on the ground. Money talks no matter where you are.
So keep your wide seats and your free lunches, I don’t care. But it wouldn’t kill you to share the pretzels.