Wednesday, August 1, 2012
LIFE LIST: FLY FIRST CLASS TO PARIS
LIFE LIST: FLY FIRST CLASS TO PARIS
When: New Years Eve 2002/2003 (I was 19)
Where: From Chicago to Paris
Why I wanted to do this: This fell right into my lap...or rather I fell into the lap of luxury.
Cost: My coach ticket was $500 r/t and sitting in first class was free...for me-the cost for sitting in first class on an international flight to Paris currently cost $4,500.
How I paid for it: If I remember correctly, the boyfriend who I traveled with paid for the tickets. I paid for his the first time we went to Paris.
What would I do differently? Ordered a cocktail. I wanted to but I was only 19 and didn't think they'd serve me..but after all we were en route to Europe!
Something I would recommend? uh, yea....there are few things more satisfying than flying first class.
Will I do it again? Actually I do intend to fly First Class internationally again, but I would like to actually purchase a first class ticket myself with the intentions of flying first class both ways and receiving red carpet treatment from the beginning!
Was it life changing? CERTAINLY. This was a defining moment in my life for several reasons, and most importantly (for me) the reason I ended up in first class....
My old boyfriend Don and I were going to Paris for the second time-he couldn't have cared less about traveling and after the first time we went I distinctly remember him saying "Paris was fine...but I wouldn't go again"-( this is all relevant to the story by the way). Our flight from Detroit to Chicago was delayed, so much that we did not think we were going to catch our connecting flight. We asked the flight attendant and she came over to us and said that our connecting flight to Paris was actually going to wait for us but we had to RUN to catch it! She said this generally would not be their protocol but it was an international flight and the next one didn't leave for 24 hours so we'd be stuck in the airport. So run we did through one of the largest airports in the United States, Chicago O'hare Airport. We literally were running all the way and even onto the walkway-they knew exactly who we were when we came flying up and there was no need to check us in. I got half way into the walkway and stopped- I could not breath. It was instantaneous and sudden. I was so scared, I knew it wasn't from the running...I just couldn't breath and I was desperately gasping for air. I clearly remember thinking 'I'm going to die here and I don't even know anyone in Chicago.' What does that have to do with anything, I don't know but that's what was going through my mind. Don grabbed the woman from the terminal, she asked me some questions to determine what was wrong-all I could do was nod my head yes or no and then she got me some water. I finally started to catch my breath and she escorted me off the walkway back into the terminal. She asked me if I was afraid to fly "NOT AT ALL!! I LOVE to fly, I fly all the time, AND I've flown to Paris before!"
And I do, I love to fly. I love everything about it. I love the airport, I love being at the airport, checking my luggage, waiting to board, it's the only time I indulge in my guilty pleasure of buying People Magazine and others like it. I can't focus on actually reading anything because I'm so excited and I love to people watch and talk to everyone. I like to inquire where others are going and what their story is. I like boarding, I love the smell of an airplane, watching them take off and land. I like the cup your diet coke comes in and the ice cubes with the hole in the center, I like the tiny bag of peanuts, I like the surprise meal you don't know what it is or when it's coming. I love the prayer I say during take off and landing, I love wearing my Grandmas' cross necklace that I always wear when I fly...I could go on and on and on but I'm sure it's either boring or I'm sounding sarcastic.
So, given how my genuine enthusiastic for flying I was surprised when the woman asked me if I often had panic attacks "NO! NEVER!!!" But that is what had happened. This was the first time I had ever had one, there have been a few times since but never so strong as this, and it's usually warranted i.e. getting on a plane. I have NEVER again had one out of nowhere like that since.
The airline employee informed me that the plane would wait a few more minutes but if I did not calm down, the pilot would NOT allow me on that flight. I love Paris, and I wanted to go so badly, but my body did not want to get on that plane, I thought about leaving the following day but then thought 'what for? I'll still have to get on the plane it'll just be tomorrow.' So I gathered my composure and got on the plane. I was greeted with many dirty looks as it was I who was single handedly holding up hundreds of people getting to their destination. Now that I think of it, maybe more, I'm sure it's a quite a ripple effect when one airplane does not take off at its scheduled time.
We sat down, the plane started to take off. I freaked right out again, I began breathing into the bag as the flight attendant had instructed me to do so if I felt as though I couldn't breath again. Then the most wonderful woman to work for American Airlines with a scarf tied around her neck came over to me from the front of the plane, knelt down, asked me about my trip and why I was so upset. I repeated that I didn't know, I really loved flying and I loved Paris and then.. very sweetly she said "would you like to sit up in First Class with me so I can keep an eye on you?" Off I went!!! I didn't say goodbye to Don, I didn't ask if he could come with me, I didn't even turn around and look back! I sat down in a luxuriously large airplane seat in a row all to myself. I could feel all eyes in First Class glaring at me and wondering who the hell I was and why the hell I get to sit up there when they had pay for their comforts! I did not care. I was nervous the whole time wondering if they were going to charge me for my seat after the plane landed, and I wondered more when I was served lobster and steak for dinner. I was not, thankfully. I was given hot towels, I had my own DVD player and they gave me a selection of 100 movies to pick from, soft blankets. It was amazing, and all the questionable angst just melted away. At one point I did try to go back and see Don, I was quickly told that I wasn't allowed in coach-and that was just fine with me!
3 defining moments 1. there was an elegantly dressed woman across the isle from me, I often think about her and what she was wearing and it always makes me want to look as nice as possible, especially when flying. Later I did purchase a similar outfit. 2. I got a taste for luxury and I LIKED IT!!! I realize I am not a person who can live extravagantly on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean that I can't live extravagantly sometimes. I think not being accustomed to it makes you appreciate it more anyhow, making it special and not expected. 3. Ever since that moment I have yet to get on an airplane with entering what I very seriously call a 'near heart attack like state'.
I knew Don was planning on proposing on that trip, and propose he did, underneath the Eiffel Tower-this is one of my 4 theories as to why I became a bad flyer for I wonder if my body, mind and heart was having an actual physical reaction to the idea of him proposing. ( If you are wondering, I did NOT marry this person). I'll tell you about my other 3 theories another time. The bottom line is that out of nowhere I developed an anxiety towards flying. I do not call it a fear of flying, I don't have a fear of flying... I have a fear of crashing...I suppose it's not even the crashing that bothers me, it's the idea of falling that far down. I will and do fly, it is not easy on me, it's embarrassing and physically and emotionally draining, but my wanderlust spirit is stronger than my anxiety.
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