Thursday, March 1, 2007

Flying First Class Without A Fork

On my first attempt to leave LA, my flight got cancelled. Luckily I discovered this during the curbside check in process, so I just called my ride back on my cell with the news. She turned around and returned to get me. But not before getting pulled over by two LA cops who wondered why she didn't come to a full and complete stop before making a right turn on red. Since they didn't give her a ticket, I said they were just trolling for blonds in Range Rovers.

There were no flights to Chicago any more that day or the next, because of bad weather throughout the midwest. So I had to spend a few extra days in the blue skies and seventy degree weather of Los Angeles before returning to the freezing rain and cold. Luckily I was up to the sacrifice.

As it turns out, they had to fly me home first class, because according to the rules of cancelling your flight with no warning, they had to put me in the first available seat.

I usually fly American. For a long time they made a big deal about having leg room for everyone throughout coach. And I need the leg room. But before I flew out the week before, I hadn't been on a plane in five months. 

On the way to LA, I noticed pretty quickly that there had been a change in seating arrangements and nobody had sent me the memo. Legroom in coach on American Airlines is gone. Except for the escape rows. And I don't want to be in charge of removing the windows over the wings when they're on fire.

So I got to ride to LA with my knees pressed against the seat in front of me. At least on United the first fourteen rows in coach have extra room.

But on American, no more. After four hours of being rolled up like a sardine, I was toast for the next two days.

Now I was flying first class on American's dime on the way back. Not bad for a $250 round trip ticket. I somehow adjusted to the extra space, leather seats, heated cashews, unlimited beverages, hot towel, and obsequious flight attendants without too much trouble.

On the other hand, the food was a joke. I had listened to a flight attendant announce there was food for purchase back in coach. They had wraps and snacks plus cookies and candy for sale. Hah, I thought, I'm in first class, my food will be fancier and, best of all, it will be free.

At least it was free. We had a choice of breaded chicken fingers or a vegetable pizza. The food was hot, not fancy. I chose the pizza. It came with a salad. But no fork came with the knife and spoon that were rolled up in the clothlike napkin. This must be a mistake I thought, so I pressed the button to call the flight attendant. "Fork, please." I said. "We didn't get any forks for the meal," she said. I stared at her for a moment. She stared back. "Is there toilet paper in the bathrooms?" I asked, concerned. She just kept staring.

So I ate the salad with the knife and spoon.

On the flight out to LA there had been an announcement while we were taxiing to the runway that no snacks had been loaded on the plane for coach. No food in the back of the plane for four hours. Just beverages. Luckily, I had purchased my own salad with grilled chicken beforehand in case of emergency. I then proceeded to eat it with mucho gusto once we were in the air, while others around me made do with apple juice and diet Cokes.

I had simply followed my first rule of food in coach:  bring your own.

I should have done the same thing even though I was flying in first class on the return flight. But I was naive. First class used to mean something. Gourmet food. Silverware. Linens. Non stop service. Unlimited alcohol for those in need. Now it's just coach with bigger seats. However, after the forkfree meal, they did serve fresh hot chocolate chip cookies on real plates. I asked for milk and never got any. The guy next to me didn't take his cookie and I almost told him to take one anyway and give it to me. But I didn't. I did consider asking what happened to all the leftovers that I saw on the tray heading back to the kitchen.

I noticed something else about both LA flights. The one out and the one back. They don't start the movie until they've made you watch Katie Couric anchoring a bunch of CBS news stories, a full half hour of Wheel of Fortune, and an episode of How or Why I Married Your Mother or Two and a Half Men. As a result, both movies were still playing as we touched down. It was hard to watch them though since the screens retracted into the ceilings.

I have no idea what happened at the end of either movie, although people were storming the Bastille during Marie Antoinette when they turned it off, so I can probably imagine. But I really wanted to see what she was wearing when they chopped off her head.


suzypwr said...

You don't really wonder why you didn't get a fork, do you?


ksquester said...

After flying Southwest for years, American is a dream come true.  I think everybody should bring their own food along for the ride..........but you have to buy it at the airport now.  I loved flying to England via Virgin.....brought back memories of what flying USED to be.   Anne