Adult beverages in the main cabin

Travel follies with Dana, Part One

To friends and family who read this blog, it may appear that I travel a lot – at least more now than ever. After Major League Baseball’s easternmost team drafted my son two years ago, I've had little choice but to get on airplanes and fly all day just to see his face. Yet when compared to people who travel for work, I really don’t fly that much. But when I do… I notice things.

I notice that whether I am flying out of LAX or Bakersfield, whether I set my wakeup alarm or stay up all night packing my (47 lb.) luggage, I will inevitably spend the hours before takeoff staring at the blue light of my bedroom clock instead of sleeping. It is also inevitable that I will not allow time to eat breakfast and will be forced to purchase an overpriced bag of almonds in Colorado to keep my stomach from eating itself. I will notice that the almonds are from California. The irony will not escape me.

To remove all doubt that I’m not a frequent flyer, I would like to present Exhibit A – my blistered big toe. At this point in my trip, I have been gone from my neon alarm clock for only three hours; two of those hours have been in a plane. Therefore, it took just one semi quick-footed jaunt between gates in Denver International Airport to produce a blister the size of Texas. I cannot be trusted to wear travel savvy shoes.

When boarding the plane that will take me to Louisville, I smiled extra-sweetly at the young flight attendant and asked her politely if—when she had some time, because I knew she was busy—could she please try to find me a band-aid. Her smile faded. She looked confused. “B-A-N-D-A-I-D…” I wanted to reiterate for her slowly in the way of a person trying to make a sarcastic point. But I did not. I waited, smiled, waited. Her eyes darted in thought, then she said she didn’t know if there were any band-aids on board, but she would check. That’s all I could ask.

When I made it to my seat, I noticed two things almost immediately: One, there was more leg room on this plane, and two—the man seated beside me was reading the same book as my seat partner from one year ago. The same book? I looked again. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, sure enough. What are the odds? He was also eating an orange. He with his orange and I with my almonds. Weren’t we the epitome of traveling health ambassadors.

As the plane taxied and the flight attendants prepared for takeoff, I kept my eye on the little red headed one, who I hoped had been successful in finding a band-aid. There she was! And she had a telltale small papery wrapper in her hand! She was walking right toward me… success! As she approached, I smiled my best, brightest smile—and she walked right past me. I craned my neck and lifted my eyebrows as if to say, “Wait! My blister and I are right here!” but it was too late. Her arm was extending over the seats to a good looking, 6-foot tall man, to whom she delivered her best, brightest smile and said, “Here’s your band-aid.” He said thanks and took it.

I noticed that United Airlines has tried admirably to separate passengers into classes, but they are failing miserably. The first class seats are sectioned off by what can only be considered mosquito netting so small and transparent that it looks more like a sneeze guard at a buffet. It does not work. At all. So much for the extra $400 they paid to separate themselves from the masses. The next “class” is the first six rows of coach (I am in row seven), where those folks paid an additional $50 for the luxury of having (and the flight attendant announced this over the intercom) two EXTRA inches of legroom. Then, there are the rest of us.

During the speech, the little red headed gypsy explained that alcoholic beverages would be served only in the main cabin. What did that mean? There was only one cabin. I sat up straighter. I peered over my seat to the back of the plane, shifted my gaze to the front where I saw a door that looked like a bank vault. Oh good. I breathed a sigh of relief. It appeared that I was in the main cabin.

The pilots, the other hand, were clearly not getting drinks.

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