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
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
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
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
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
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
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.