Twenty years ago this month I crossed the Atlantic for the first time. And no other flight has ever compared to that one.
My friend, Steve, had moved to London, so I went over for a visit.
I bought my ticket months in advance and got a good price, thanks to another friend, Jimmy, who was a ticket agent for American Airlines. A nine hour flight riding in coach.
That all changed when I got to the airport.
Back then they let anyone in the terminal, so Jimmy met me at the gate to see me off. But I didn’t know what he was up to until I got on the plane.
As you’re boarding, a flight attendant looked at your ticket and then separated the sheep into first class – and the goats into coach. When it was my turn, fully expecting to be a goat – I was instead offered my choice of orange juice, champagne, or a mimosa.
Suddenly Southwest Airlines didn’t quite measure up.
First, the sheep were served caviar and finally, after several other courses, a hot fudge sundae. I don’t remember what all I ate, but I was so full that I was miserable by the time we landed at Heathrow.
Riding in first class on a transatlantic flight was like flying in a leather BarcaLounger – and when you stretched the thing out as far as it would go, I might as well have been in my bed.
The best part was the DVD player that lifted up out of the arm on the chair and twisted around in front of you. With a whole stack of movies to choose from.
Pretty cool for those days. Before iPads and Netflix. When the only time you saw something that high-tech was on an episode of Star Trek.
I’ve been back to Europe since then, but I never got to ride in first class again.
Thanks, Jimmy, for upgrading me. It was nice flying with the sheep for a change.