10.20.2012

First class is totally worth it!

In my "regular" job, the one that pays a regular salary and has health insurance, I get to travel.  I know that there are lots of business people that travel more than I do, but in my circles, it seems like a lot.  Over the last few years, I have learned a few things I'll sprinkle in here and there in posts as it seems relevant.

Most of my travel is to deliver full-day trainings so I use the day prior as a travel day.  Even though my goal is simply to get there, I almost always choose the early flight.  The budget people like it because the 6 AM flight is generally cheaper than those later in the day.  Another advantage is that, while I don't like getting up at 3 AM to be at the airport by 5 AM, it gives me the day to do some exploring once I get to my destination and the flexibility to not be stressed out by delays or changes in the schedule.  Traveling to and from Nebraska, I rarely get to fly direct.  Sometimes, I am lucky enough to get to take three planes to get there!

On a recent trip, I had the 6 AM flight out of Omaha to Dallas on my way to Orlando for a conference. The airline staff at the departure gate asked for volunteers to be bumped in exchange for a travel voucher.  The first offer was $400 and a later flight routing through Miami.  I thought about it.  Getting my husband to come with me on a trip or two has been a goal for awhile and a free or nearly free plane ticket might help.

The next offer was $500, still through Miami.  More tempting, but I still hesitated.  The next offer was a $500 voucher AND an upgrade to a first class ticket on a later, direct flight.  Yippee!  I was sold!

I had never flown first class before.  I work for a university and am on federal dollars so we have pretty strict travel policies.  Here is my regular view from the middle back of the plane ...


Things I loved about first class:
  • Not having to wait to get on the plane.  I'm not impatient, but I'm not really patient, either.  Getting on and getting settled always makes me feel ready to go and being the last one on the plane drives me nuts.
  • The roomy seat and the extra leg room.  Who wouldn't love it?
  • Little things like extra courteous attendants.  I have a lot of admiration for flight attendants and can't say I've ever had an experience with one that was rude or not on top of things, but meeting the needs of a whole cabin full of travelers is a little different than twelve people.
  • The free booze.  Honestly, it would be dishonest of me to omit that I enjoyed the Cape Cod shortly after take-off and the white wine with my snack.
  • Yes, snack.  Food.  In real dishes with real flatware.  A lovely bowl of warm mixed cashews, almonds and pistachios followed by a plate with hummus, mini whole wheat pitas and grapes and one of those little Ghirardelli chocolate squares.
  • Finally, three seat trays.  I tend to have a lot of random stuff and there was plenty of places to put it, even with the fancy snack tray.
The only negative of first class was my seatmate.  He fulfilled every stereotype of a rude, indulged passenger I could mention.  It didn't bother me that he didn't talk to me.  I had a yummy book to read and new experiences to absorb.  It did bother me that he didn't say "please" or "thank you" during the entire trip.  He complained about the flight attendants and difficulties with our flight - we had to change planes and were delayed because the catering cart hit the first plane and it was deemed unflyable.  He was also less than pleased that the family across from us included an adorable toddler.  She was excellent with only a couple of small outbursts and no crying.  He, not so much.

If given the chance, I will definitely fly first class again.  Now, to figure out how to go about that ....

So you can share my first class experience, here is a favorite Cape Cod recipe:

Cape Cod

1-2 oz. vodka
4 oz. cranberry juice
Lime wedge

Shake vodka and cranberry juice with ice.  Pour into highball glass and garnish with the lime.



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