Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Front of the Plane

As many of you know, I travel quite a bit for work these days. There are pros and cons to work travel. Some of the cons include having to shave (if I'm meeting with clients) and being away from home. Some of the pros include getting to visit some interesting places, having HBO in hotel rooms (giving me an opportunity to be exposed to new favorite shows like True Blood and In Treatment), and frequent flier miles. When I lived in Indy, the frequent flier mile thing wasn't really a big deal. The Indy airport isn't a hub (or even a mini-hub) for any airline. So I basically had miles on every airline, but not enough to get free trip anywhere. Now that I'm in Charlotte, I live in a hub city. This means that every time I fly somewhere, I'm flying on the same airline. So I'm building up all of these miles, and then comes the best benefit of all: the front of the plane.

For years I had dreamt about the front of the plane. I had no idea what life was like in rows 1-4. I always wanted to go up and use the first class bathroom, but the pre-flight announcement tells me that I should use the lavatory in the main cabin. The announcement actually says something about it being a safety reason why people in coach can't use the first class bathroom, but I had my doubts. My theory was that they had fancy soaps and hand towels up there, and they're afraid that us savages back in coach would steal all of their fancy products. My theory also included a bathroom attendant and a toilet made of gold. As you can tell, I've spent many hours in coach, just dreaming of what was going on in front of the mesh curtain.

So now that the airline decided that I've flown enough to now sit in the front of the plane pretty much every time I fly, I can tell you that there is no golden toilet. There's not even a fancy soap. The first class lavatory is pretty much the same as the one in the main cabin. And it's still a federal offense to tamper with the lavatory smoke detector. So that's a bit of a disappointment, but the other aspects of rows 1-4 are pretty stellar. There are plenty of things that I could talk about here: the free drinks, the bottomless basket of snack food, the warm towel that I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do with. I'm not going to focus on these things, although I do need to discuss the bottomless snack basket briefly. For a few years, I thought that Funyuns had disappeared. I hadn't seen these delightful half potato chip half onion ring treats at either gas stations or grocery stores. Turns out that Funyuns are alive and well. I think the airlines actually bought all of the world's Funyuns and are stockpiling them in a hanger somewhere. For first-class consumption only. I find this sort of ironic, since Funyons always seemed a little white trash, yet they are served in fancy pants first class. Ironic and delicious.

But my favorite aspect of sitting on the front of the plane is the fact that it's where all of the flight attendants hang out when they want to hide from the annoying passengers. It's like there little break room, right across from the unimpressive first class bathroom. So I do what any other person would do and I listen in on their conversation. They spend most of their time talking about the annoying passengers back in coach, like the little kid who spilled his cheerios or the lady who wouldn't turn her damn cell phone off when it was time for takeoff. I guess they figure that since we're sitting in the front of the plane, that we probably also look down on those coach heathens. Or maybe they just don't think that anyone would be eavesdropping on their conversation. Either way, it's pretty entertaining. In addition to talking about the annoying passengers, they also spend a good deal of their time talking about their schedules. I have no idea what they're talking about, but it's fascinating. They have like their own language that only other flight attendants understand. Like some remote island nation or twin talk or something. I heard something about having a double turn then a quick flip and a hard stop for a pass-through. For a minute I thought they were talking about a figure skating routine, but then they said something about LAX, so I knew it was fight-attendant speak. 

In addition to this anthropological study, I also like to observe the reaction of other front-of-the-planers when they see me sitting among them. Most of the other front of the planers pretty much look how you think they would look. There are three types of people on the front of the plane: 
1. Businessmen and women. Usually wearing nice suits and annoying blue tooth earpieces
2. Morbidly obese people who need the extra room
3. Women (40-65) wearing some sort of costume jewelry, too much lipstick, and some sort of fur or leather product. These women didn't get the memo that flying is no longer elegant or an event, and that it's now more like a greyhound bus experience.

And then there's me. I typically go with my standard work from home attire. This means hoodie, puma workout pants, and baseball cap. Mostly because I like being comfortable. I do put a bit of a twist on this...I pull the baseball cap down a little lower. I do this because it's what the celebrities do. I watch TMZ pretty much every night, and whenever they catch a celebrity at the airport, s/he is always dressed similar to my WFH outfit, and usually has a baseball cap pulled down really low. I'm guessing that this is so nobody recognizes them. So I go with the same look. It's my way of staying comfortable while still giving the impression that I might be important or famous. Judging by the reaction of my fellow front of the plane passengers, I think about half of them think that I'm famous, while the other half just thinks that I'm lazy and probably don't belong on the front of the plane. The other half would be correct.

So that's what life if like in the front of the plane. Sorry if I ruined the mystery, especially about the lack of a gold toilet. Oh, but if you ever having a craving for Funyuns, now you know where you can get your fix.


Amanda said...

Over the holidays, I was bumped to another airline because my flight was overbooked, and subsequently, I was bumped to first class. I was super excited because I too have always wanted to sit in first class!

I appreciated the extra legroom, and the free Sunchips (I FEEL CHEATED. THERE WERE NO FUNYUNS ON MY FLIGHT.) But it wasn't amazing. I felt like this was how flights SHOULD be, for everyone, instead of packing us like cattle in the back and charging us $5 for some stale trail mix.

Natalie said...

So in response to your earlier post about Google ads, I thought you'd like to know that this post got me an ad for "toilet partition hardware"... I knew that was what I was missing in my life

Bling Bling Granny said...

For your information, the jewelry is real and, for some of us, it's one of the few opportunities we have to dress up and look like a million dollars. We are certainly not fake or lazy. So there you have it. Take those funyuns and ------ them, and RESPECT YOUR ELDERS.

Nate said...

Bobanda - Sorry about the lack of funyans. Sun Chips will suffice as white trash snack food, especially if they are french onion and you wash them down with a Mountain Dew. I've also seen TGIFriday's brand tater skins in the basket. I agree...flying should be like that for everyone. Then again how would I be able to look down the people in coach if that was the case?

Natalie - Fantastic. At least my Google Ads are providing some comedy in place of revenue (I think I've made $8 thus far).

Bling Bling - I have a feeling that I'm related to you. Do you happen to know Legal Eagle?