In First Class

My roommate warned me about Condor – that apparently they try to gain money by making their passengers pay to watch anything past two or three channels on TV, and that the meals were very basic, and anything past the default foods cost extra money. So I had brought extra food just to be prepared for this ten hour trip from Portland to Frankfurt. However, to my positive surprise, they decided to upgrade me to first class; maybe there weren’t any seats left in the economy class. Of course all the warnings from my roommate were no longer applicable.
I entered the airplane, and found my enormous seat, where the legroom was such that I couldn’t even reach the seat in front of me!

Not that I’m complaining! Just before sitting down, my “bench-mate” who looked to be a young guy, perhaps some entrepreneur arrived and sat into the seat next to the window. For a while, I fidgeted around trying to decide what to put in the overhead compartment, and what to keep around me, then sat down. Soon enough, the guy next to me and I started talking, and it turned out that he was also one of the last ones to drop his bag and check in – perhaps the reason for being upgraded, because just like me, he wasn’t excessively rich, infact he was just a student.
The rest of the flight passed with us laughing at the enormity of luxury that existed in the business class – the complexity of our chairs, the lights, large tv screen, armrests, thickness of the blanket, etc… Dinner started with an appetizer, then a main course, of which we had the choice of a catfish on a bed of rice and steamed spinach, beef with soft potatoes, or a vegetarian pasta dish. Then a cheese plate with wine, finally dessert of crème brulee and strawberries with crème. Finally let’s not forget the tea/coffee to finish with. In laughing and eating for a while, it became clear that we had a lot of things in common, starting with the fact that we were both of two cultures – he German/Greek and American , and me of Hungarian and American descent, both of us with dual citizenship. It took about two and a half hours for us to finish all the food, at which point we realized that we were pretty much halfway through the flight and that everyone else had long since scarfed their food and were sleeping nearly horizontally in their first class couches. After watching a movie under “romantic” reading lights, I fell asleep.
It was his gentle nudging that woke me up, I think in the middle of a violent dream that I don’t remember, but I was a bit embarrassed because I couldn’t really formulate real sentences for about a minute, ironically being winded by sleeping, or perhaps waking up. Of course, it was the steward in the aisle who pretty much directly asked me what I wanted for breakfast, but had to ask me twice as the first time all I heard was just some noise; maybe my ears were still asleep.
Of course, it took us once again twice as long to eat breakfast as the rest of the passengers, the jokes about how ridiculously excessive the service was in the first class continuing. Normally I don’t take photos of food, but this time I did, IMG_4671
aiming the reading lights in the direction of the neatly arranged pieces of food, quickly snapping the photos before the steward passed by again asking for the 10th time if we wanted another glass of wine or
champagne.
After landing, the guy and I exchanged phone numbers and email addresses – it sounded like maybe we’d reconnect after getting back to the USA, maybe to do a bike ride or other active thing. At least I’d ask him some suggestions for when I go to Berlin a bit later on. It was fun to experience the space of the rich with someone else, and spend about 1/3 of the flight slowly enjoying the food a luxe, bite by bite.
We passed the border guards pretty quick, both using our American passports. Afterwards, we parted, him finding his friend to pick him up, and me, to find the next flight to Toulouse. Not a bad start to my trip 🙂