"You've been upgraded."
Those three words revolutionized a rather mundane assignment to Orlando into a sky-high euphoria - complete with concierge service. I haven't been this excited since I got a date for the prom.
"Congratulations," the travel agent said. "You've accumulated enough frequent flier miles to get bumped up to first class." And the view from Row E-4, where I'm writing this tome, is not too shabby. I suspect my seatmate is a world-famous fashion model and judging from our conversation - she has a thing for writers.
The airlines operate under a sort of medieval system of class structure. The rich get to sit up front and everybody else gets jammed into cargo - or as the marketing types like to call it, coach class. Normally, I'm hanging with the serfs, forced to pay for everything from a cup of watered down soda to a stale slice of white bread.
But not in first class - where the drinks are served in real glasses with an unlimited supply of Baptist Martinis. For you Methodists, that's Diet Coke. I told the flight attendant, Miss Vicki, to keep 'em coming.
Did you know they warm your nuts in first class? Honest-to-goodness, it's the truth. Just after beverage service, the flight attendant offered me a warm cup of assorted nuts. Quite tasty and toasty.
Afterwards, we were presented warm towels to wash our hands. Ah, first class. And the food kept coming. The main course was chicken in a mushroom sauce made with white wine reduction. It sure beat the can of Pringles they served back where the common folks sit.
You know, for just a moment I forgot about how lousy the nation's airline industry has become. I forgot that they keep raising ticket prices and yet they can't seem to get you to where you're going on time. I forgot that you have to check yourself in, tote your own luggage and print out your own tickets - while workers stand idly by. I forgot that the airlines nickel and dime us until we are blue in the face. I forgot that TSA agents enjoy rummaging through our personal belongings and trampling on the Constitution. I forgot that the airlines charge us for luggage, ice cubes, and pillows. It's enough to make you want to throw up. Then again, the airlines might charge you for a vomit bag, too. Yes, friends, first class almost made me forget all that. Almost.
Like all good flights, I can't stay on cloud nine forever. I shall soon bid farewell to the trappings of the well-to-do and assume my rightful spot among the working class. My Cinderella ride is about to turn back into a coach.