FIRST CLASS VS. COACH AND OTHER TRAVEL THINGS

Last week I was in Philadelphia for a training course, at the end of which, I had to take (and pass) an exam. I won’t know for three weeks whether or not I achieved a passing grade, but I am grateful for the training.  It’s always a good opportunity to take training.

On the way to IAH in Houston, I was informed via my handy TripIt app that my flight to Atlanta was late. Late enough, it was certain that I would miss the connecting flight to Philadelphia. 

I was flying Delta Airlines, which I had never flown before. Typically, my company flies United unless, as it happened in this instance, it would be a significant savings to fly another airline. The $500 savings on this round-trip ticket could not be ignored, and Philadelphia isn’t somewhere we fly often. 

I like United, in fact, I’ve flown most of my life with them (Continental).  All I’d ever heard about Delta was the phrase, (Doesn’t Even Leave The Airport). Still, when I got the alert my flight was delayed, I didn’t stress or get upset. After all, I was flying on a day off to get somewhere for work.  I had already crossed over the attitude adjustment for flying on unpaid time.  I was very relaxed and decided to see what happened with Delta and how they would handle this situation. 

The first thing I noticed about Delta was the lack of lines.  Houston is United’s hub, and especially on the weekends, the lines are always long. Delta’s were short and moving. When I got to the counter, a young lady named Alex looked at my reservation and told me that I was going to miss my connecting flight, but not to worry, she’d get me to Philadelphia one way or another. 

All flights were full or nearly full. Alex’s fingers flew across the keyboard, and the smile and look of determination never left her face. Direct flights, other airlines, she looked at everything, all the time assuring me I would get to Philadelphia. She found the LAST seat to Philadelphia from Atlanta that would leave two hours after I’d arrive, in plenty of time.  She tried not to smile too wide when she informed me she’d have to upgrade me, no charge, to FIRST CLASS.

I blinked at her. First Class? I’d never been fortunate or financially able enough to go to first class anything. I tried not to squeal with delight but Alex told me I was among friends and it was okay to be excited. I nearly walked on air to security and on through terminal A (which I’d never flown from before) and found my gate to my flight to Atlanta. 

Delta has something I’ve not seen too much of in the United terminals – many places to charge electronics.  I also didn’t have to walk through Terminal C to get to Terminal E which takes a long, long time. 

I sat in the waiting area, listening to an older couple banter. Rather, the woman talked non-stop about everything, the man, however, nodded occasionally.  I named her Queen Madge of the Obvious.  His name, obviously, was Henry.  Apparently God put her on this earth to tell Henry everything.

“Look, Henry,” she’d say matter-of-fact, “there’s the lady walking to the counter.”

I checked. Henry was able to see.  He was reading the newspaper. The Wall Street Journal. 

“Henry, she’s about to make an announcement.”

Henry nodded. I could tell he was basically ignoring her but paying just enough attention to nod when he had to and respond if needed.

This banter continued until we were called to queue groups. Madge made sure Henry knew they were in group 3.  I was in group 2. I was hoping that meant we would be seated apart from each other.  

Alas, no, Queen Madge and Poor Henry were seated behind me and I received a play by play of everything during takeoff and landing when I pulled out my headphones because I knew I needed to listen to the pilot.

Madge needed to inform Henry of the men who were waving flashlights and helping us park, unloading luggage, and marveling at how the luggage for their flight was going to be there in just forty short minutes when their next plane took off.

When I exited the plane, I felt a moment of awe as I had to figure out what to do and where to go without Queen Madge! 

I made it to my next flight and when they called first class passengers, I walked non-chalantly to the front of the line. The flight attendant was apologizing that there would not be drink service before we took off because they were running late. Since I had no idea there was drink service before takeoff I was not disappointed.

I sat next to a tall, black youngster in his 20’s whose pants barely came up to the top of his underwear. He was a sweetie, though.  He offered me some of his Butterfinger bites and told me his name was Uptown. Later, as he sung with his headphones on, I could tell he was an aspiring singer. A good one. 

As passengers filed in, Uptown’s eyes grew large as soup plates.  He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if the short, stocky man who was passing me was Warrick Dunn (former NFL running back for Atlanta Falcons & Tampa Bay Bucs).  I’ll be honest, without the helmet on, I wasn’t sure, but Uptown seized the day and asked the man if he was indeed Warrick Dunn.  He was. He shook our hands and sat down behind us.  Uptown, who up to this point had been taking 40-50 selfies since he also got the free pass to First Class, nearly went crazy.  I took a picture of him going crazy over Warrick Dunn with his phone to record the moment.

After I took my own selfie of myself in First Class, I noticed the cup holders that already held small bottles of water.  

First Class has bigger seats, and cup holders.  First Class has it’s own bathroom, and it’s own flight attendant.  Delta’s First Class flight attendants wear short, retro red dresses. Our flight attendant was nice and after apologizing (again) for no drink service (of the adult beverage nature) before take off, we were on our way.

In First Class, adult beverages are free, so I had to indulge.  I had a glass of white wine, while Uptown had a coke. Then, the flight attendant brought snacks even after I’d eaten some Butterfinger Bites.  There is a world of difference between First Class snacks and Coach snacks.  Yes, in First Class if you want pretzels or peanuts, you can have them.  Both, if you want.  The similarities with Coach end there.  In First Class you can also have cookies, chips, fruit, goldfish and a basket full of other things – and as much as you want as many times as you want.

First Class rocks.

After nearly undivided attention from the flight attendant for a couple hours, I was not ready for the plane to land. The last part of my First Class experience was getting to deplane FIRST. Before Warrick Dunn.  

Someday, I hope to get the First Class experience again!  Thank you, Delta, and thank you, Alex.

My experience with Delta was a positive one. My next work trip will be soon.  I’m looking at you, United.

 

 

 

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