A question for you frequent fliers: Do you ever fly first class?

I don’t travel often, but I fly at least once or twice a year, and in all that time, I’ve been seated in first class only once. It was when the puddle jumper from Key West to Miami broke down on the runway. (Add “do you smell jet fuel?” to the list of things you don’t want to hear two stewardesses murmuring to one another back by the galley.) I missed my connection, and I was rebooked back to Columbus in first. Without going into too much detail about what happened on my last night in Key West, let me just say that a first-class seat going home felt like a gift from… well, not from God. God would never have rewarded bad behavior that way.

But it was wonderful. The wide seat, the halfway-decent food, and especially the Bloody Marys, which started on the ground and continued without so much as a raised eyebrow until I drifted off into a lovely nap somewhere over Tennessee — it all felt positively luxurious, at least as compared to the conditions in steerage. (And this was 1980. Conditions in steerage weren’t all that bad.)

I had a friend at the time who traveled often for business, and always flew first-class. It was company policy that the consulting work they did had to include the expensive ticket, and she always said that if I ever needed to travel as much as she did, I’d understand why. Oh, I understand.

Over the years, I’ve known many people who brag of their ability to get upgraded to first, either through strategic deployment of frequent-flier miles, shameless flattery of gate agents, or equally shameless lying about bad knees and hips and pounding migraines. One guy just had the gift, he said; he had mastered the combination of grovel and assertive confidence that made the person with the power helpless before the request, and would unhook the velvet rope to the front of the aircraft.

I ask because there’s always a pause during boarding when you have to stand in the aisle right inside the door, and you can examine the lucky 16 or 20 or however many who have the good ticket, and while there are always the obvious candidates — the women with expensive jewelry, the guys whose innate imperiousness screams CEO, Sarah Palin — there are always a few wild cards, too. The ratty-looking guy with the enormous stomach — does he absorb the extra cost as a comfort measure? Because I wouldn’t want to pack that basketball into coach, either. The kid staring out the window with no evident parent — an unaccompanied minor? Someone tell her it’s not like this, and not to get used to it, she’s just getting the parental-guilt upgrade.

David Sedaris once wrote amusingly about flying first-class transatlantic on Air France — I guess when you sell books like that guy, your publisher doesn’t mind paying — and being asked if he’d mind if the crew seated someone next to him, someone who spent the entire flight sobbing. Having flown transatlantic in coach, I can say that if that kind of midflight upgrade doesn’t cheer you up, you’re probably suicidal. My transatlantic flight nearly featured a mutiny; a bigger seat would have made it that much easier to bear. (Confidentially, I’ve always wanted to make that crossing on a no-name freighter, maybe in an unused crew cabin. I could get some reading done and stroll on the deck twice a day.)

But the best comment on the subject was, of course, “The Airport,” one of the best “Seinfeld” episodes ever. I’d like one of those ice cream sundaes.

Bleh day, bleh me, bleh bloggage:

Said it before, saying it again: You should add Planet Money to your bookmarks. Especially if you’re not much of a money person.

“Deliverance,” the novel, reconsidered. I missed this last week, but the novel’s been out for decades — the reconsideration didn’t get stale in seven days.

Tonight marks the official announcement of the end of the war in Iraq. Years ago, when my crappy newspaper planned a special Victory in Iraq issue, my husband spoke up at the meeting and said it was a ridiculous idea, and that we’d be there for years. It got him scowled at, but it’s good to know he was right.

And here comes another hurricane. Time to get to work.

Posted at 11:08 am in Same ol' same ol' |

70 responses to “Upgrade.”

  1. Joe Kobiela said on August 31, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Have been able to score some upgrades to first class for the wife and I. I wait until the gate agent is not to busy then ask politly if first class is full. If its not I tell them I am a charter pilot and show my license to them and most times they give it to me. I love the wide seats. One hint, tell the gate agent you are willing to move up front if there is a issue with the weight and balance. Remember if you fly charter with me you are ALWAYS first class.
    Pilot Joe

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  2. Dorothy said on August 31, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I love how Joe frequently does commercials for his charter flights via the comments! Joe if I had the $$ I’d book you for sure. But if I fly I use my credit card so I imagine you don’t take plastic?

    It would be nice to have this date associated with the end of the war in Iraq instead of thirteen years ago and Princess Di’s awful death. I turned 40 that day in 1997 and hate having that connection with my birthday.

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  3. del said on August 31, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I don’t fly much, but am flying into LaGuardia this evening. I’ve got a line that I may use with airline personnel, but only if necessary. I may say, politely, and with a smile: “You’re not gonna go Jet Blue on me, are you?”

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  4. Little Bird said on August 31, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I have never flown first class, and chances are, I never will. I pretty much need to be sedated to get me ON a plane. I hate flying. One of these days though, I do want to go first class on the train. A sleeper car, all meals included, and a lesser chance of having to put up with a nearby screaming child. Apparently coach on a train has as much or more room than first class on a plane. It just takes longer to reach your destination. But at least the crew doesn’t give you the evil eye when you get up to go to the bathroom (or the snack car).

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  5. 8th grade mom said on August 31, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Probably should change my name since my son is now in 11th grade – a few years ago, he was flying unaccompanied to visit his dad and go upgraded to 1st class with another kid. He got off the plane exclaiming: “they use glass cups up there – we should do this more often.” Had to break his heart and let him know that it would probably never happen again (especially flyying with me in steerage). If I ever fly abroad, it would be worth the miles to upgrade (since it’s almost impossible to use them for flights). Never been upgraded myself though…

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  6. Rana said on August 31, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been upgraded once in my life, and I’ve always coveted it on transoceanic flights (but never been lucky or wealthy enough). Said upgrade was a strange experience and I don’t know that the seat comfort was worth the awkwardness of boarding first and having other people stare at us. I remember more vividly that even first class had to use plastic knives and forks (though ours were silver colored) and that the meal was preceded by a small cup of nuts, which had been warmed. It was only a short flight though, on a small regional plane, and so perhaps the experience was not what it could have been.

    I wish I could take advantage of Joe’s offers; I like flying in smaller planes. (My dad used to fly before the FAA regs decided his various medications were no-gos.) I don’t think you fly transcontinental though, do you, Joe?

    I do like train travel, and wish more of it were available. Large seat, no waiting to board, no luggage limits, no gel restrictions, ability to use laptop and wifi while on board… I’m willing to put up with a somewhat slower ride in exchange for all that.

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  7. Michael said on August 31, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Last week a friend of mine said he was going to spend Thanksgiving traveling to Sydney on a “mile run”. He’s a runner so I asked why he was going all the way to Sydney to be in a race. No, he replied, it’s a mile run. His life partner lives in New York and he files there from Detroit every Friday evening and returns Sunday afternoon. For a fare of about $1,000, and connecting in St. Louis to get a double mile bonus he will earn something like 50,000 air miles by flying to Sydney, sitting in the airport for 3 hours and getting on the very same plane and flying home. Why? Because that will make him a Platinum member with Delta and insure that he gets the first class upgrade every week end. Flying time from NY to Sydney is 21 Hours, 45 minutes. And he will be in coach. He says it’s well worth it for his week end commute. I don’t think that’s the way I’d want to spend Thankgiving.

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  8. Jen said on August 31, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Oh man, that Seinfeld clip made me laugh. I mean, meals served on a domestic flight? Hilarious!

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  9. Joe Kobiela said on August 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Rana, no translantic just trans great lakes, and Dorthy, we do take plastic.
    Pilot Joe

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  10. nancy said on August 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I knew a woman who worked those trans-Pacific runs as a flight attendant. She said they’d put on the “air-robics” video at first light to avoid deep-vein thrombosis among the passengers. The best were the Japanese, she said, who value group activities. The stewardesses liked to stand at the back of the plane and watch all those hands waving and stretching.

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  11. Peter said on August 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Got bumped up to first class once – in 1965, on a transatlantic flight, because Lufthansa had double booked our seats. My sister and I shared a seat in first class; that seat was so big (and we weren’t) that it was a wonderful trip all the way back.

    Also flew on business class to Asia and South America, and that’s like first class.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on August 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    The worst flying experience of our lives occurred when we flew Sabena Airlines to London a long time ago, when smoking on airplanes was still allowed. Our two seats on the fuselage were the last two in non-smoking. Because they were carrying more smokers than they had seats, the flight attendants allowed all the smokers to congregate in the aisles of the smoking section and puff away. It was grotesque. Thick clouds of cigarette smoke. . .many shouted conversations in multiple languages. . .and not one wink of sleep. We emerged at Gatwick bone-tired and smelling like an ash tray.

    My only experience with first class was arranged by a flight attendant I was dating, who had a friend working the Piedmont flight from Charlotte, N.C. to Los Angeles. It was doubly sweet because, first, Piedmont was one of the finest airlines around until it was absorbed by US Airways, and second, because the flight attendant slipped me extra food and liquor. It is truly the only way to fly, but the cost differential is so ridiculous, I doubt I’ll ever see a first-class cabin again, except on my way to the cheap seats.

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  13. 4dbirds said on August 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I was upgraded once and loved it. I’ve traveled through Europe on trains and the best experience was the British Duty Train (Operated by the British army) which traveled from Berlin Germany to just inside the West German border. First class all the way with waiters, alcohol and high tea. We took our children a couple of times so they could have an experience that I think is probably gone now.

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  14. beb said on August 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I don’t care if they call them “advisers” 50,000 troops remain in Iraq. That’s still an occupation to me.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on August 31, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    And every one of them is in constant danger. A physician friend in the National Guard pulled two tours in the Green Zone, arguably the safest place in Baghdad. They were required to wear their body armor when stepping out to use the latrine.

    As we are all writing about our airline experiences our daughter is on a plane heading overseas. To get the best price she’s taking four flights and traveling for more than 24 hours before landing in London tomorrow. All in steerage of course. She’s willing to do this but I think it’s going to take a toll.

    Dorothy, what day is your birthday? Our Sarah’s is Friday.

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  16. Deborah said on August 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve flown first class a lot in the past but not anymore probably. My husband used to travel so much when he worked for a large international architecture firm, he had gazillions of frequent flier miles. One time we flew round-trip first class to Paris, we took my mother-in-law and sister-in-law too, all first class, all free. It was heaven sleeping on the plane almost completely prone. He had the kind of miles that allowed his companion an upgrade too on all flights we took together anywhere, so lucky me. Now that he’s self employed he doesn’t travel that much at all so the frequent flier points eventually all got used up. For work I travel about twice a month or so, not enough to get me very far on ff miles. When I worked for the same large international architecture firm as my husband I used to fly internationally on business class, which is almost exactly the same as first class, you just sit a little further back but get all of the same perks, or at least you used to. Those were the days.

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  17. Deborah said on August 31, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Beb, I heard somewhere that there will be about the same number of troops left in Iraq as are stationed still in Germany. Hearing that changed my perception.

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  18. nancy said on August 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The ones in Germany don’t hate our guts for destroying their country, however.

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  19. Mark P. said on August 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Flying First Class is the only thing that makes flying bearable these days. A couple of years ago I did a lot of flying (relatively speaking) on government contractor business and we could pay under $100 for an upgrade because we bought the most expensive Coach seats (fully refundable, changeable and so on because of our uncertain travel plans). Now most contracts specify buying the cheapest Coach seats and an upgrade is more like $1000. And getting a free upgrade to First Class is not easy these days because most flights are full.

    My wife and I flew Coach from Atlanta to Denver recently and I hated it. I would be perfectly happy to never fly again.

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  20. Bob (Not Greene) said on August 31, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Well, Nance, then give it about 65 years and everything should be hunky dory, right?

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  21. prospero said on August 31, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I always fly first class when I can bill it and usually when we fly at leisure. I figure if I’m spending a bundle on the vacation anyway, why not. I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I do not fit in the seats in the rear cabin. I’m normal -sized, 6′-1″ and about a buck 70. As coach is configured these days, my knees are jammed into setbacks in full upright position. If the passenger in front of me opts for recline suddenly, I feel like I’ve been cut off at the knees.

    This is disgusting: How hens are confined.

    Speaking of food safety: National Smart Seafood Guide.
    And this is surely worth a field trip. Take the virtual tour–hilarious, somewhat disturbing.

    Juggalos and Jugalettes. Not for the faint of heart. And if that’s not bad enough, bare-breasted Jugalettes

    And, damn, those people really despise Tila Tequila. You’d think she’d fit right in amidst all that grotesquery.

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  22. Deborah said on August 31, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Yeah Nancy, but if there are still 50,000 in Germany and they’re our friends, 50,000 in Iraq doesn’t seem like that many when they hate us so much. Everything they try to do there will be more difficult. I’m torn, while I think we should just get out of there altogether to get our folks out of harms way, we did leave their country in the crapper in terms of infrastructure etc.

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  23. Connie said on August 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Many moons ago my husband and I were travelling from our home in southern Indiana to San Francisco. We began the trip with the long drive to Flint in order to leave our then five year old with her aunt for the week. We got to Bishop airport to learn our quick flight to Detroit Metro was cancelled, and the airline’s new plan was to fly us to Indianapolis – which we had driven past the day before – from which we were in first class to San Francisco, very nice.

    Unfortunately the return flight was a nightmare. We were delayed for hours in the SF airport and finally arrived at Detroit Metro at 2 a.m., one of the two times I have been there when it was virtually empty. At one point in the craziness in the SF airport I turned to the mother of several small children seated near us and said “Give me that baby, you’re overwhelmed.” She did. And I remember that Dad was a clarinet player for the SF Orchestra.

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  24. Julie Robinson said on August 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Connie, what a gracious response to be a helper rather than glaring or making nasty remarks. You are no doubt remembered with joy even today.

    Two different sets of friends have taken the train out to California and loved the experience. The bad news is that it takes four days and costs more than flying. They both decided to embrace that and no doubt their kids will have great memories.

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  25. Mark P. said on August 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    A friend and I had a cabin on the train from the Santa Fe station at Lamy to LA a few years ago. It was a very nice, trip, despite some long delays, including a stopover after the train ran over a drunk between Lamy and Albuquerque. I checked on taking the train from Atlanta to Denver, but it involved stopovers in DC and Chicago. It was more expensive than flying and took three days.

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  26. Dorothy said on August 31, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Julie today is my birthday. The big 5-3!

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  27. Julie Robinson said on August 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Happy Birthday Dorothy, may you have a wonderful year! How will you celebrate?

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  28. Little Bird said on August 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Mark, I was on that train!!! I think, at least, I was on a train that was VERY late getting into Lamy going north. The reason was someone had been hit sometime between Albuquerque and Lamy. It didn’t happen while I was on it, but the woman I was placed next to told me all about it. This was the same woman who looked at me when I walked up to my assigned seat (next to hers) and said to me “Oh, no, tell me no.”
    Yes, the train takes longer, that’s part of the trip. It shouldn’t cost more though. And fair warning, the trip on any train NOT starting at a hub will be pretty painful.

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  29. Dorothy said on August 31, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Well first thing this morning a repairman came to fix the recall portion of our 1.5 year old dishwasher, so that was a lovely birthday treat to have it working and take away the fear of a raging fire that could consume our abode!! Then Mike came out and we went to lunch next door at the Kenyon Inn, which was complimentary, because I’ve been sharing basil, tomatoes, squash, etc. from our garden with them. Tonight we’re heading to b. d.’s Mongolian Barbecue in Columbus in the Arena district – my meal will be gratis there too. So a fun day all around!

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  30. Dave said on August 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I also was in first class one time, it was almost a shock to the system to discover first-hand the leg room and the width of the seats. They didn’t give me first class service, I still got the little bag with approximately four nuts in it. But the comfy seat made it easy to tolerate the steerage service.

    Jeff Borden, Piedmont was a wonderful airline, we used to fly on it regularly from Dayton to Tampa, when we resided in Lima. Hated to see it disappear.

    Happy birthday, Dorothy. I wouldn’t have thought of your birthday being on Princess Di’s day of demise, had you not mentioned it. Something happens everyday, there’s only so many to go around, sounds like a trite statement but it’s true, you can’t concern yourself with that. My uncle, whose birthday is on Christmas, would probably trade, he always says that was the worst thing growing up.

    It’s always been a bit of a shock to go online and price out a Amtrak trip, and also to talk to folks who’ve actually done it. Sometimes, the trains aren’t even close to being on time, you can’t rely on them if you absolutely have to be somewhere.

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  31. Deborah said on August 31, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I took a train trip with Little Bird a couple of years ago from Chicago to DC. As she said she hates to fly so we compromised and took the train there but flew back. It’s always the return trip on a train that’s the pits anyway. It turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant train ride for me. It took 17 hours starting at 5 or so in the evening in Chicago and arriving late the next morning. I slept just fine, the seats were comfy, wide and plenty of leg room. It was nice to get up and walk around from time to time. The view of the countryside early in the morning was gorgeous. I was very happy to fly back though.

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  32. Dexter said on August 31, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    The most fun scene on a TV show in the past few years was when Journey Man (NBC) was transported back to the 1970s , and he found himself airborne in a plane. Mini-skirted stews, people slurping down booze while walking around, and everybody smoking a cigarette. And that’s the way it was then. I used to get asked to go to first class sometimes when I was flying in commercial jets in my army uniform. Free pillows, a blanket, all the booze I could drink, a very good meal, and beautiful attendants for me to ogle with my 20 year old eyeballs.
    yep, it really sucked ,though, when I was jammed back into coach any other time.
    For the enjoyment of flying, though, nothing beats a helicopter. I made friends with a couple warrant officers in Vietnam who flew choppers, and they sneered at fixed wing aircraft people. I logged quite a few hours as a medic on Dust-Off Air Ambulance helicopters. It’s an incredible, alive feeling.

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  33. Julie Robinson said on August 31, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Dorothy, it’s sounds like a perfect day–enjoy!

    I was in the hospital fighting for my life when Diana died. My temp was very high and in between the IV alarm going off, horse-capsules of calcium, being packed with ice, and a roommate who was having detox issues and threatening me with scissors, that was just one more part of the surreal-ness of it all. Oh, plus there was a major tire fire at a dump here in town and they weren’t sure if they could get it out.

    All the while at home my husband no more than got me to the hospital when the school called that our son had broken his finger during recess. Our daughter had planned one of those big birthday parties where everyone she knew was invited, and it since it was the weekend it seemed impossible to pull the plug. I’m not sure which of us was having less fun.

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  34. Connie said on August 31, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Dorothy, my husband’s bday is the day of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Kind of a bummer to see bad events reviewed on the news on your bday every year.

    Mine is Friday.

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  35. MichaelG said on August 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I fly reasonably often but it’s all with Southwest. They don’t do miles and they don’t do upgrades. They do pass out free round trips to frequent fliers. I have three round trips in the bank right now. Time to go someplace. They also give preferred seating and a free beer to those with X number of trips per year. Preferred seating is an aisle seat. Also all my flights are only an hour in duration so one is getting off the plane before the awfulness of air travel really sets in. In addition, it seems like about 80% of the pax are business travelers so everybody knows the drill. Just avoid Orange County if possible because that’s where Disneyland is and the plane is full of screaming kids and excited parents all flying for the first time.

    Any flying outside CA is done on SWA for free so there is no first class. I can’t complain at the price.

    I did a lot of air travel in the late ’70s. A very lot. That was between San Francisco and most often the Southeastern US – like Atlanta and Miami. I became fairly skillful at promoting upgrades to first class then but things are very different now.

    Upgrades are most valuable on long flights. Say the obvious, Mike. I flew Business Class to Saigon several years ago and was happy that I paid the extra $$ which wasn’t all that much.

    Happy birthday, Dorothy!

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  36. brian stouder said on August 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Happy birthday, Dorothy!

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  37. Rana said on August 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Add me to the Happy Birthday chorus! I hope it is a good day.

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  38. Jolene said on August 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    My one experience w/ first-class travel came about as a result of an injury. While working in NJ for the summer, I broke my ankle, and I was able to use my crutches and obvious impairment to extract an upgrade for the flight back to Arizona. I remember it fondly, even though it was more twenty years ago. The space, the G&T’s. So much better than coach, and coach has only gotten worse since then.

    I really wonder if things have reached bottom in terms of comfort in air travel or if there’s more pain to come. Or if, by some miracle, we can hope for technological improvements that mill make it less expensive to fly, thereby allowing the companies to provide a bit more luxury for the dollars we give them.

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  39. moe99 said on August 31, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Maybe the airlines can just put us to sleep for the duration of the flight? I did this when flying to visit my mother in KY last spring, because I was taking some anti nausea drugs and it was so pleasant to nod off at the beginning of the flight and wake up at landing.

    I did fly business class from NYC to Seattle once when I was working for the SEC–it was quite random because we were never allowed to fly anything other than steerage.

    Happy Birthday, Dorothy! And many more.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on August 31, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    My nephews travel frequently on the Megabus and they far prefer those nice, fat bus seats to the cramped conditions on your average airliner. It’s slower, true, but a lot cheaper and more comfortable.

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  41. Mark P. said on August 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Little Bird, we were southbound. We stopped at Lamy to buy tickets for the next day, but the train we thought we had missed was late enough that we could buy tickets for it. It was delayed because a freight train ahead of it had broken into two pieces going over a pass. First class on a train is really cool. We rode overnight to LA and when I got off the train there I felt like I had just gotten out of bed in my own house. Unlike arriving in LA by plane, where I feel like I just got out of a clothes dryer on permanent press.

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  42. Deborah said on August 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Happy Birthday Dorothy.

    I fly SWA to NM everytime we go there. I agree Michael G, it’s a great airline if you are traveling with people who know the ropes and painful if you go to Orange Co. Been there, done that. I don’t like it when the flight attendants sing and tell jokes, they are usually lame, SWA is bad about that particular practice.

    Moe, one time I was working on a project in San Fran, had been there for about 2 weeks, the last night there I had to work through the whole night (after working all that day) and had to catch a plane at 6 am. It is the only time I’ve been able to sleep the whole way on a flight (except when we flew to Paris that time I mentioned before). Being conked out is a great way to fly.

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  43. paddyo' said on August 31, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I was upgraded once or twice for free on domestic first-class some years ago on reporting trips here or there — flights where they had a couple of empty first-class seats and yet were overbooked in steerage. A nice touch, and I was just the lucky one, I guess . . .

    But now? Hey, forget first class: I was on a domestic flight to New Orleans from Denver a couple of days ago, and a fellow passenger a couple of rows behind me (we were near the back of the plane) asked the flight attendant before takeoff if she and her partner could move a bit closer to the front of the plane, where there was a handful of empty economy seats in the first 10 rows or so.
    The flight attendant informed her that EVERYTHING costs extra now, and that because those seats were in United’s “Economy Plus” seating with its extra legroom, they’d have to PAY to relocate up front.

    And THAT’s life in those damned friendly skies, 2010 edition . . .

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  44. Dexter said on August 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    To Dorothy, and it’s only 15 seconds….


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  45. deb said on August 31, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    happy natal day, dorothy and connie. and connie, you might want to know that nov. 18 is Married to a Scorpio Support Day. i stumbled on this factoid while doing some research at work and had to snicker — as a scorpio myself, i felt the sting of truth in this explanation:

    A worldwide day of remembrance to honor all those married to Scorpions and who suffer greatly. Assert yourself today! Hide their household flow charts.

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  46. JayZ(the original) said on August 31, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I have a friend who is claustrophobic (legitimate) and always asks to be the last person to board a plane, since all the crowding in the aisle as everyone is storing overhead luggage and maneuvering into their seats is very uncomfortable for her. Often a flight attendant will just offer to put her in first class. She never turns the offer down.

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  47. Little Bird said on August 31, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Mark, apparently trains vs. people (or cattle) is a common thing on that particular line. And that is more than a little disturbing.

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  48. basset said on August 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Piedmont was indeed a fine and comfortable airline – even though my last trip there was Grand Rapids-Dayton (change planes)- Washington (change)- Roanoke (stop) – Charlotte (change) – Nashville (stop) – Memphis, all in one day with a five-week old basset pup in a box under the seat. And an hour drive from Kalamazoo at the beginning, and 3 1/2 hours more to Jackson, Mississippi at the end. I was young and strong back then.

    Rule of thumb on the last job I had which involved flying was: if it’d be a drive of eight hours or less, we go by road.

    Birthdays… my brothers and I were all born on militarily significant days. Pearl Harbor Day, Confederate surrender day, and WWII Japanese surrender day. Purely coincidence, I’m sure.

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  49. Connie said on August 31, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    My birthday is also militarily significant, let’s see, 1939, I think the invasion of Poland.

    But the best thing about my birthday is it has its very own rock and roll song: It was the third of September, a day I’ll always remember, cause that was the day that my daddy died. Papa was a rolling stone….”

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  50. Mark P. said on August 31, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    There was quite a blowout on my 30th birthday. May 18, 1980.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 31, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Haven’t done a memorial service for a member of “La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux” or the “40 & 8s” for some time; it wasn’t restricted to WWI vets but effectively mostly was. They still exist in a limited form, and in Indiana & Ohio in some rural towns you can still find in a town park a boxcar marked “40×8” and some highly idiomatic French.

    But it does sound like once you’ve travelled in a “forty men or eight horses” railcar, you have a connection with each other like no other. They have, I find, a website: http://fortyandeight.org/

    The United Commercial Travelers also might be overdue for renewal, a club for those weary souls who are ready to just get that last great upgrade.

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  52. MichaelG said on September 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I dunno. A drive from here to Burbank is around six hours, Ontario is close to seven. Flying, my house to BUR or ONT, is a comfortable two and a quarter hours, about 45 minutes of which I’m sleeping. I’ve done both lots of times and have it down to a science.

    I’ve taken the train from here to Fresno and Bakersfield many times and highly recommend it. Once when in college I took the train from Chicago to Oakland. It was nice enough, I guess, but I was dirt poor and couldn’t afford beer or burgers. It was a long ride. After seeing all those James Bond movies I have long entertained the fantasy of traveling first class on a train with my honey.

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  53. A. Riley said on September 1, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I used to take the Amtrak back & forth from Chicago to Indy — it was usually okay. One nasty cold Christmas weekend (’83?), the trains coming east to Chicago got frozen out on the prairie somewhere and they had no equipment to send out. I gave up & tried again the next day — the trains had come in (days late) and in the meantime they’d rounded up some cars from the mothball fleet somewhere — I think I rode to Indy in a former commuter rail car that time. (Got to Indy for Christmas and found that my sister’s pipes had frozen, so no showers until they thawed. I shoulda stood in bed.)

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  54. Little Bird said on September 1, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I have serious doubts about convincing my honey to travel that far via train with me. And he’s a HUGE James Bond fan. It won’t stop me from trying though.

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  55. Denice B. said on September 1, 2010 at 1:01 am

    I think I may be the only human being in the USA never to have seen a whole episode of Seinfeld. I thought it was senseless. Silly me!

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  56. prospero said on September 1, 2010 at 1:51 am

    How many catholics are objectionable? How many asssholes steeling you’re money are disgusting assholes? Really? You can’t gaufe thatT? Fuvk you all. It will rot from your butt. You are not even cute, And you NBig time liars.will rott. Don;t think So? Do fucking dumb to scare. You are so fucking dumb and so moronic, well go to hell. You aare a moron. Moron.Moron you fucking oron. Givw it a run. You can’t fuck with my kid and people I cary about bout, asshole.

    So, who does these people think about who thew do themdelves?, Whatever, but I figure right for sure.

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  57. prospero said on September 1, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Really. This didn’nt didnt not couldn;t not not not count for spectaculuer for thee a she’pre. Is this not aan obfious not a bush spectacuaalarm, way hey . Are we kidding: . If you don;t understand the asshold FUBARED evereything, thats what he did. He did what every did. He raised Fubar to a ridiculous thing. Did he have anhy sense ablut any sense or whatever thinkx?

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 1, 2010 at 6:33 am

    And I thought the Korean Air ad that’s run for (seemingly) years was bizarre to the point of self-parody & unconscious Freudian irony — they now have a new one that’s running this am on MSNBC which could be run as is on SNL. Anybody actually flown Korean Air? Do the attendants really have a geishas on ecstasy vibe?

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  59. alex said on September 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I’ll have whatever prospero’s having. Tonight, after work, I mean.

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  60. brian stouder said on September 1, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Make that two!

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  61. Julie Robinson said on September 1, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Denice, I’m with you, I never understood Seinfeld’s popularity. But I consider 99% of TV programming complete crap, so obviously I don’t swim in the mainstream.

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  62. Dorothy said on September 1, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Thanks y’all for the b’day shout outs. Cute Elvis YouTube thing there, too, Dexter! Oh and I never got into Seinfeld either, mostly because I worked on Thursday nights at a quilt shop so it sort of passed me by. I’m not really sure if I’ve ever seen an entire episode either.

    I always wonder if Prospero goes back and re-reads what he types when he’s in that stupor, or whatever he calls it, and has regrets. I tend to doubt it.

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  63. basset said on September 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Denice, I’ve never seen Seinfeld either… or the Jay Leno Tonight Show, or any of the Star Wars movies.

    James Bond, now that’s another story. the more recent ones make great demonstrations for your home a/v system… friend down the street who also got flooded just moved back in and got his set up, I was over there the other day when he had the opening of “Casino Royale” cranked up loud, most impressive.

    and I bought the exact same receiver, it’s sitting in a storage locker waiting for installation. which will probably happen next weekend – our floors are close to done, cabinets are on site and installation starts today, kitchen appliances arrive Saturday.

    Some nights after that third glass of wine I’ve made some posts which are not quite as coherent as I thought they were at the time… but never on the Prospero level. I don’t THINK so, anyway.

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  64. coozledad said on September 1, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Just think how much James Dickey’s reputation would have suffered if he’d been alive to hit that “publish” button at 3AM. The person who comes up with software to implement complex access codes after 11:30 (The Southern Writer “Logos diaper”) will be able to afford plenty of beer.

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  65. 4dbirds said on September 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I never watched a single episode of Full House, According to Jim, or any other of the fat husband/hot wife sitcoms, and saw one Raymond and hated it. The only reality shows I watch are the food network, Say Yes to The Dress (a guilty pleasure) and hoarders (only because it makes me feel superior. 🙂 ). I loved Sein­feld at the time but I don’t seem to like them in syndication.

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  66. 4dbirds said on September 1, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Is that what’s going on with Prospero? Yes I’ll have what he’s having.

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  67. Connie said on September 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

    None for me thanks.

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  68. Deborah said on September 1, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I’ve learned to think of it as if reading James Joyce, mid-book. It makes sense then.

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  69. LAMary said on September 1, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Happy Birthday, Dorothy and add my name to the list of people who never watched every single thing listed. I watch Say Yes to the Dress sometimes but I prefer the show with David Tutera…My Fair Wedding. That is my embarrassing guilty pleasure show.

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  70. LAMary said on September 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Oh, and about Deliverance. I had a class in Southern Fiction in college and had to read it. Loved it. It was of that time but manages to stay timeless. The nonfiction cited in the article names two of my faves as well. Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm are two books I’ve recommnended to people I know are not likely to be Jonathan Franzen fans.

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