“American Airlines Flight 634 Passenger Timothy May, please check in at the gate”

Oh geez! Now what? Bumped? No…I have my boarding pass already. I’m only called ‘Timothy’ when I’m at the doctor”s office.

Wait a minute…did I push some “surrender-my-seat” option at the self check-in kiosk? Oh ‘Timothy’, just go see what they want for crying out loud….

“Good morning Mr. May. Are you traveling alone?”

“Yes ma’am”

“You have a center seat in coach, row 13…”

“Yes ma’am”

“May I have your boarding pass?”

“Ahhhh sure…yeah…here you go”

“We will be upgrading your seat today to First Class”

“Holy cow! I’ve never flown ‘First Class’ before

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She looked at me, I’m sure she was making a mental note of my age (certainly not my charm) and said: “well it’s about time you do”

OK Tim(othy). Go sit back down…try to curtail the happy feet dancing along the way.

A few minutes later: “Attention travelers. We will now begin our boarding of Flight 634 to Washington Reagan. All first class passengers may now board at this time”

‘Dup-de-dup, yo-de-doe….oh my gosh….that’s me! I’m ‘First Class’. Wait…wait damn it…hold on…’

Tim(othy)! Come on man…gather your stuff – hurry up. “Wait for me, I”m coming”.

Originally I was supposed to be boarding with Group 3 (as FS once said, several years ago, when about getting on a really cheap, cheap, cheap flight to NYC to see his favorite sister, “am I in the cargo bay with the farms animals?”). Y’all know that feeling being in “Group 3 or greater, right?

The pilot greeted me. Wait…what, the pilot? OK, sir. Let me assume the pre-flight checklist is done, you’ve walked around the plane and touched a few movable airplane parts to be sure, and now you’re just small-talking with the likes of us. So I asked him about the rain on the east coast. With confidence he said it would be moved out of DC by the time we arrive.

“We will probably approach from the north, and down the Potomac. Which side of the aircraft are you sitting?”

“Seat 4A”

“Oh good. You will have a fantastic view of the Washington landmarks as we land”

I was excited and already digging for my stowed camera. I had a window seat!

“Lets see here…let’s find that ‘First Class’ seat…Seats A & B are on my right side…rows 1, 2, 3, 4….here we go. OK Tim(othy), plop yourself into that wide-body seat for crying out loud!”

You know how it is when boarding for coach seating (usually in group 3 or greater for me anyway), there are times when the already-boarded first class passengers stare at you with this seemingly annoyed look about them? It is that look that gives you the feeling they consider coach passengers to be “second class”…yeah?

Well that’s not going to be me, no siree. I smiled politely and cordially at every coach passenger coming on the plane…and not in a “nana, nana, boo, boo I’m in first class” smirk-smile sort of way either I might add.

Now hang on. Who is this very timid looking, older-than-me couple stopping at my my row? Folks…I realize the ‘First Class’ seats are wide, but I also know there will not be room for three of us in these two seats.

In a very soft, polite tone of voice the lady said: “Excuse me Sir. I believe you are in the wrong seat”

“Nooooooo” (actually it was another word) went racing through my head….

“Oh I think not ma’am. I’m in Seat 4A”, as I reached for my boarding pass to prove it.

“OK, well that’s 2 rows up. You are in row 6”

“Oh…really? I am so sorry! You see I just counted four rows back and sat down”

“That’s ok…I don’t know why they the seating starts with row 3”, stated the gentleman.

So why do they start the ‘First Class’ rows with three? Now I must move forward, against the boarding flow of coach passengers, to my ‘First Class’ seat. It is these passengers now looking annoyed with me…they have that look about them..you know it: ‘who is this ya-hoo First Class passenger anyway?’

Yes, I am a ‘First Class’ rookie….

Finally, we’re fastened in and the cabin doors are closed. Up, up and away. First Class! Ahhh yes!

I had no idea the flight attendant would bring so many beverages. Within 10 minutes of takeoff, the guy next to me was asleep. Oh boy, I should have peed before getting on this 3 hour flight!

“Would you like a red or white wine today Mr. May?” What do you mean…I get wine with my lunch? I don’t know if I have ever had wine with my lunch…ever. And, for crying out loud, I had my choice of wines! (Hmmm, maybe I should have asked for a glass of each).

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I then started looking for a place to set my drinks, iPhone, and iPad. OK now Tim(othy), you have a college eduction. You can find the tray table if you just stop and assess all the possible and logical locations. Look at the lady across the aisle. Where did she get hers? Oh, they have it all folded up in the arm rest? So how does this work?

Oh and by the way, that little slide-out mobile phone-sized tray on the center console – pregnant idea you airline designer people!

Hot towels – now why in the world are they bringing me these? Ohhhh! Hey, these feel so good on my face. I wonder if they’d mind if I shaved now. No Tim(othy), holster your redneck tendency…come on now, think ‘First Class’ you knucklehead!

Here comes lunch. What? I’m eating off real China dinnerware…at 32,000 feet?

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Hey now! There are beets in my salad…and apples and walnuts too. These are foreign ingredients for the salads I usually eat. Olive oil balsamic vinaigrette – wow. This sure isn’t my typical Ranch dressing over Iceberg lettuce.

Lunch was snarfed. An after-lunch beverage is offered (and gladly accepted). So is a mint. ‘First Class’ passengers apparently cannot have bad breath or something.

I wonder if the ‘First Class’ lavatory is equally “First Class”? Well damn if the guy next to me is not back to sleep. Bejesus man, these seats are comfortable and all, but they are not a bed mattress. What’s with this guy? Why isn’t he awake and enjoying all this ‘First Class’ treatment? Hey you, my fellow ‘First Class’ passenger, don’t you know I still gotta pee?

Wait just a minute. No way! Is that the close-your-eyes-and-inhale-long-and-slow heavenly smell of cookies baking filtering through ‘First Class’…at 32,000 ft…on a damn Air-o-plane! It is! “Ma’am, since this gentlemen is asleep, I will gladly hold his cookie until he awakens” (yeah right). A guy could get used to this ‘First Class’ kind of travel p-r-e-t-t-y easy.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for flying with…yada yada yada…we will be landing at Washington Reagan in 20 minutes. The weather is overcast and light showers….”

‘Oh no you don’t Mr. Pilot. This weather is like a thick fog! You said it would be cleared up by now! I’m seeing none of the Washington landmarks flying in over your Potomac. What kind of ‘First Class’ treatment is this?’

It then dawns on me: ‘Hey! I’m going to be like the 8th person to get off this flight.’ Yes! I haven’t had that convenience since I was the only passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight (Austin to Dallas) many, many years ago (like 1987) – I certainly got ‘First Class’ treatment that time too – the four beers had during the one hour flight were free.

I finished up my DC working weekend. Leaving, the hotel concierge called for a ride for my trip to Union Station. “Jimmy” showed up…driving a limousine. I’m going to the train station in ‘First Class’ style. Can this trip’s travel get any better?

Jimmy got me to the station in no time. After an hour wait, I boarded the Northeast Regional Amtrak to New York City. The FD and FSIL were getting a visit from the old man for a couple days.

Continuing with this first-time-for-everything trip, I’m here to tell you Amtrak seats are more comfortable than ‘First Class’ airline seats! They have a convenient recharging plug and free WiFi! And really skinny college girls sit next to you, never crowding your leg room nor (sadly) want to strike up a conversation because of a Facebook, texting, and headphone unsociability precedent they hold dear.

But the rocking of the train cars certainly can rock you to sleep (wonder if my snoring annoyed the college girl?).

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New York City was a blur. The FD had a game plan to go here, there, and back to here. Tiff is so much fun. We had a blast, we improvised on the schedule, and we ate like ‘First Class’ tourists. I really like NYC. We did a bar on the Hudson River waterfront first off, went to dinner, then finished the evening at my favorite New York Irish Pub, McSorley’s.

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Monday, we took off for The Cloisters.

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Rockefeller was a cool guy. He envisioned The Cloisters being a peaceful, secluded, quiet sanctuary even though it was near the hustle and bustle of NYC. It worked then…and still does today. He built a ‘First Class’ place and it made me buy a Cloisters t-shirt by golly.

We finished the day by watching a lovely sunset behind the Manhattan skyline from the newly completed Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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With all the Sushi, Japanese BBQ, Harney and Sons Tea, Oysters, Tacos out of a Volkswagon Bus, and “Pies ‘n Thighs” (and several standard and exotic cocktails in between) consumed, guess what I’m doing starting Wednesday. Yup, I have to get back to a girth that makes sitting in coach somewhat comfortable.

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Today I’m commuting to the airport for my trip home. Amtrak to Washington DC. I will get to Reagan airport, gather my boarding pass (for Group 3 I’m sure), and wait for the flight…just like I usually do. Might I be so lucky to again be called to the gate?

‘Passenger Timothy May….”?

Oh wouldn’t that be a ‘First Class’ punctuation to a wonderfully fun trip. I’ll let y’all know how the trip ends. This time at the airport however, I’m gonna pee before boarding the plane…just in case.

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