Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Warning - Cheapskate loose in First Class

With a heavy heart, I ventured home from the airport to get some rest before my flight at the (butt)crack of dawn. Running my fingers through my closet, I try to select my most first-class outfit. Unable to find anything in my closet that I would expect to find in first class, I settle on my WSOP shirt and a pair of jeans. Folding them neatly on my dresser, I run around the house cooking meals and cleaning until about 10:00. I get into the bed at 10:30, fully prepared to sleep. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I lay there with my eyes wide open – visions of Vegas bargains flying through my head. Finally, around 1:00 am, I drift to sleep. At 1:17 AM, my cell phone rings loudly in my ear. It’s my husband letting me know he arrived. I say something like “Great – now don’t ever call me again. I’m sleeping and hang up the phone.) I drift back to sleep. At 2:08 AM my ridiculously loud cell phone blares again. Blearily, I search for the phone. Answering, I say “Are you on fire, or just deaf?” He proceeds to ask inane questions about the rental car that he could have figured out from the text that I sent with the confirmation number. I again say “Don’t call me again – I’m sleeping” and hang up the phone. 3:01 AM – the hated phone goes off again. Angrily, I say “I am going to come through the phone and kill you.” He tells me that the ignoramuses at the hotel are telling him that the reservation is for the next day. I drag out of bed, get the confirmation number and print out that says the correct date and read it to the moron at the front desk. Magically, they then find their ass with both hands, and I am allowed blissful rest. At 4:00 AM, my alarm clock goes off – time to go for my flight.

After a quick shower, I rush off to the airport, park the car, and head to security. A short line awaits me, and I breeze down the concourse to my gate. The airline had graciously given me a voucher for $10 for breakfast, which I spent on some eggs, bacon and cranberry juice. I board the plane (first!) and slip into my plush leather seat. I then proceed to initiate the first class stare, whereby those in first class stare smugly up at those headed back to steerage. Handily, I am offered a warm wet towel and several cocktails while others are boarding. Not sure of first class etiquette, I refrain from speaking to the passenger next to me. After a few moments, he asks me “Do you fly often?” I tell him I fly maybe five or six times a year. I don’t want to let on that I don’t belong in first class. The gentleman is really pretty nice and we get into a conversation. He’s from my hometown and is a minister who opens up churches all over the world, while working for Suntrust, teaching martial arts and having a family (whew!) He has flown 160k this year alone. His current venture is in Orange County, CA – where he was headed. We chatted much of the flight, in between excessive snacking and beverage drinking. I was disappointed that I did not receive any tiny bottles of liquor to swipe, as the flight attendants pre-mixed my drinks. Before we land, he tells me that he is a member of the Crown Club and if I want, I can join him in the lounge while waiting for my next flight. He tells me there’s free food and beverages so, of course, I am in.

Going through the glass doors in ATL, I enter the plush Crown Club Lounge. Ahead of me is a little snack bar and a friendly bartender. Ordering a top shelf drink (um, because I CAN) and nibbling cantaloupe, I we continue to chat. My flight is boarding in about 25 minutes, so I soon head back out.

I rush to my gate, the last one to board. The flight attendant says “Just choose any available seat.” My heart sinks. Then “Oh, nevermind, you’re in first class.” Whew! I make my way to my seat to find a nice television in the back of the chair. Unlike the coach passengers, who are subject to fees of $6 per movie, $4 per television show, $5 for games, and $2 for music, all of these things are available to me totally for free, so of course I try to use them all. Consuming an inordinate amount of beverages, I settle in for my movie. I tried to speak to the guy next to me for a moment but he looked like a jaded business traveler and not up for conversation. Not long after the tearful end of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Grand Canyon was visible and I knew we were nearing Las Vegas. Excitedly bouncing a little in my seat, and not just because I had to pee from all the cocktails, I peered out the window in search of the city of lights. Flying over the cookie cutter lots in Summerlin, I can see the huge monoliths of Vegas in the corner of my window. I have arrived!

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