Losing My First Class Virginity

First Class travel is where the rich people sit. I’ve flown Coach my entire life until today while I embark to Paris for my first time.

Orange Juice and I enjoying First Class

Somehow the Travel Gods decided to bless me with the opportunity of $139 First Class upgrade (on top of my $1100 ticket) and I immediately pulled out my credit card. I didn’t believe it was true when they assigned me Business Class seat 1C. I double-checked the Delta website and my email and then back to the Delta website to make sure it wasn’t some joke or a hacker that just stole my credit card information and my dignity.

Still in seat 1C. Delta One. First Class. HERE WE GO.

My earliest memory of flying was visiting one of my aunts in Los Angeles. Disneyland. The beach. Celebrities. Hollywood. Lifestyles and the Rich and Famous with Robin Lynch. That’s when the excitement of flying started—and perhaps my desire to someday to have a lot of nice things that make me look rich.

I daydreamed about bygone days of glamorous travel when people were dressed to the nines and flight attendants in bright pastels on PanAm flights. I daydreamed about sitting in First Class with people that can afford to spend thousands of dollars on 10 hours of their life. I daydreamed about being waited on and actually dreaming in a flatbed seat while I soar over the Atlantic. Flying First Class is luxurious. Flying First Class is where I wanted to be.

Except it’s obvious I didn’t belong there. The first interaction I had with a flight attendant was her asking me if I was sure I just wanted orange juice, not a mimosa. Yes, flight attendant, no alcohol please, I am still a child. After a few selfies and several delicious gulps of no-pulp orange juice (seriously does anyone like the pulp? Why does that exist?), I haphazardly hit each button on the console in front of me with no understanding of how to turn on the tv. For the first 45 minutes of the flight, I sat, staring into the abyss of my temporal lobe,  hoping that no one figures out I’m not worthy of the $8000 seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch my neighbor in 1D;  it’s apparent he’s done this before, as he reaches for the the latest of our in-flight treatment: hot towels.

It occurs to me that luxury—by definition—falls somewhere between “being able to comfortably afford comfort” and “living in excess,” and, as much as I hate to admit it, that’s where I want to be. Rich people recognize other rich people, which is perhaps why I feel like I don’t belong in first class—maybe they can smell it on me.

I don’t remember the first time I fell in love with luxury. It could have been growing up in Alamo, California—a small suburb way, way east of San Francisco—where Mercedes are much like Subarus are to Seattle. My friends lived in mansions with tennis courts and pools;  their moms probably carried nice handbags (I hadn’t yet realized my purse-admiring potential yet). My sister took up a rich, white people hobby: dressage—ballet, on horseback—which still all these years later makes absolutely no sense to me.

Perhaps because “rich white people shit” was all around me, I aspired to fit in with this mold too. It looks a certain way… “rich” and “luxurious” and “successful.” People respect you (well, maybe). People look up to you. People want to be you.

All my life I have never felt like I fit anywhere. We all desire to find our niche—the place where people “get you.”  I realized into adulthood that I’ll never really find a place where people “get me,” but I still want to look fucking awesome.

The desire started in my teen years when I realized handbags were an accessory that could change a persons perception of who you are. The more you get into more exclusive, rare handbag designs–you only know if you know.

My First Class experience was nothing remarkable, but it changed my view of flying being an uncomfortable burden.  Because of my Fibromyalgia and chronic back pain, sitting for long periods of time is really horrible for me. On top of that, I definitely can’t sleep sitting up, so usually arrivals after international travel require a few days of extra misery, extra jet lag, and extra pain. Being able to lie down, and even to have my feet elevated, helped reduce my pain level exponentially.

On top of that, the food in first class was kinda fancy and almost made me forget I was dining on an airplane. Food is served in a hurry in the first few hours of the flight (or whenever you ask for it) ON REAL PLATES with a table cloth and a cloth napkin. These small touches make the biggest difference. I didn’t realize flying could actually be somewhat comfortable.

DeltaOne Menu for Summer 2017

I seriously don’t know how I got so lucky to have this upgrade–it made international travel so much easier and I feel so fortunate that the travel Gods blessed me like this. Pro-tip: if you ever see an option to upgrade to First Class for less than $300, and you can afford it, DO IT.

Now I need to find a friend with a private jet….

Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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