When Thomas Friedman stated that “‘First Class’ is more than just a better seat, it’s a better life,” he was quite right. I have always been curious about his claim, because I have never had the chance to ride first class... Today broke that mold for me. When I was about to sit in my seat at the back of the aircraft, my flight attendant approached me and asked me to switch seats with a woman who had a young child in the seat next to mine. I was reluctant to give up my window seat and take the seat juxtapose to mine in the isle, but I agreed. The flight attendant thanked me for making the switch and told one of her colleagues to be sure to give me an extra drink or two for my trouble. I was seated beside a large man whose arms kept brushing against mine. Thoughts about how I wished this wasn’t appropriate in our culture kept rushing through my head, but I was patient and squeezed myself further toward the isle to escape his clumsy reach.
When the window passenger arrived, I was preparing to let her pass when she asked me if I would move to first class so that her boyfriend could sit with her in the dingy corner at the back of the plane. I looked at her puzzled for a moment and asked the large gentleman next to me if he would prefer to take the seat since he was in the middle seat, but he assured me that I could have the seat in first class if I wanted it. After being reassured that it was in fact alright for me to take the boyfriend’s seat, I took down my luggage and walked past almost every passenger on the plane in order to get to my seat at the front of the plane. I got some interesting glances from others as I passed by them while the plane was almost ready to start the orientation video. The boyfriend thanked me for my sacrifice and I thanked him and we switched spots. I sat at a window and looked scanned the new landscape. I was seated next to a dumpy little man in his late 40s or 50s. He was fast asleep with half a glass of bloody Mary. The seat was very comfortable and I fell asleep very quickly and my neck didn’t ache at all because it leaned back just enough and had supporting cushions for my neck.
The flight attendants were vigilant and doted over each person in first class, especially my dear Irish travel companion who ordered drink after drink. I am not sure if he slept so well because he was drunk or because he was tired, but nonetheless, he slept and awoke long enough to call a flight attendant, consume another drink and ask for a small meal.
For the meal, we were given a roast beef sandwich, an organic caramel brownie with walnuts, fresh fruit and a full drink. Instead of using the cheap plastic silverware and plates, each passenger was given a tray with unpackaged food neatly displayed on glass plates and bowls along with real silverware. Most of the others in first class peeled their sandwiches apart and poked around with their forks trying to make sense of the beef touching the bread. I found it delicious and satisfying. I was reluctant to leave the first class with the beautiful legroom and reclining capabilities, because I knew that my 10-hour flight would not be nearly as comfortable or welcoming.