13 July 2009

A Lesson Learned - Flying First Class





I'm just getting back in from Texas where I got to shoot a wedding in a beautiful building in Dallas, the Weisfeld Center. I learned a little something about handling business. Sometimes, its not an excessive luxury to fly first class. I used to look at first class seats as a way for people with means to have another excuse to separate themselves from the rest of the world. It seemed frivolous to pay so much extra to fly in front. What's the big deal that you get to board first. I once flew coach in an assigned seat that was near the first class section. I hated how the flight attendant closed the curtain as I happened to be starring into the front cabin. All that was to me was an airlines attempt to play favorites with one class of people in order to charge them enough to make up for all the losses in everything else. I also would laugh at the $3 bag of chips and a $6 bottle of water they would bring us back in coach.




But on this flight, I was introduced to another perspective of the first class option. The concept actually hit me when I was visiting a model in her new home. She has a boyfriend living with her who is a Titanic freak and I don't think he would mind me saying so. Well, I noticed in his memorabilia that he had in his possession a few White Star tickets ranging from a first class to 3rd class. In today's dollars, the price difference seemed negligible, but I would imagine the $5 to $10 difference between classes meant a lot more. I still came to the conclusion that it would still be worth it to find some means to come up with the difference and get better accommodations. Therefore, I responded positively to the unexpected offer to upgrade my seat as I operated the automated kiosk to get my boarding pass. I paid the extra money since my trip was an all expenses paid deal.





As I had to lug around my two carry-ons of camera equipment and personal sundry items, I justified my selection in that I had camera gear in both bags. The last thing I wanted to do was to be one of the last ones to board in coach and not have any overhead or under seat place to store my gear. At that point, they normally offer to take your bag and check it into the cargo hold. There was no way I was going to let my gear get checked. In first class, I boarded first and had plenty of room to store both my bags overhead. They were asking coach passengers to not place two bags on top if they could help it, but rather to place one was preferred under foot. Well, that's another point of protest for me. I busted up my left knee in the military. If I fly on any area of the plane other then on the right side in an aisle seat, you'll be wheeling me off the plane or throwing me over your shoulder in a fireman's carry. I've got to have that room to flex my knee or else I'm in pain...big-time. I've flown next to the window on the left side of the plane in first class and had no pain at all.




Another contention is the reduced stress of flying when you are travel first class. Packing, driving through heavy traffic to get to the airport, parking, going through security is already enough to make you into a stress ball. You're in no mood to deal with a client when you arrive at your destination. On the trip going to Texas, we were immediately served a heated assortment of deluxe nuts in a ceramic bowl. There was not one peanut in the bunch. Somebody came by more than necessary to ask me if I wanted something else to drink...alcoholic or not. I got a glass of Merlot at one point, but turned down another one. That would have been $16 in coach. My point is that when I got off the plane, it didn't matter so much that the plane arrived later than expected, or that my car rental wasn't already fully paid (by the client) when I got there. My demeanor was affected only slightly that I had to make other arrangements on my own. Had I been flying coach, I'd still be locked up right now and only imagining that I was writing this blog post about wishing I had flown first class.

3 comments:

unbearable lightness said...

They don't even give you pretzels or chips in economy class any more. Nada. Just a drink, if that.

I always fly business class when I go to Europe. Eight hours in economy class poops you out so you are guaranteed to arrive jet lagged. Everyone is so much more civilized up front.

You deserve first class anyway, T. You ARE first class! When are you flying my way?

Dave Rudin said...

Living the high life - eh, Big T??? Well, if somebody else is paying for it, then why not.

Still, I can't afford to fly first class if I'm paying. I've ridden in steerage (i.e. economy) on 15 hour flights to Hong Kong and on a 17+ hour flight to Bangkok that way - but at least the Asian airlines treat you like a human being.

TLNeasley said...

HIGH LIFE??? Not so sure about that Dave. I'm just contemplating adding air travel to my list of things you simply cannot go generic on.