A Floor-Person in a Strange Land


Air New Zealand, ca. 1960

Yesterday, as I was flying back to Wisconsin from my weekend from North Carolina, I hesitantly strutted in to the cabin.

How does one “hesitantly strut”? It’s a complicated walk that combines confidently walking with a face that says, “I ate a bad hot dog, but I don’t want anyone to know about it.”

Why the contradiction? You guys, I was bumped to first class, and was firmly convinced it was a prank. Up until the plane took off, I was sure someone would walk up and say, “ma’am, I saw you sitting on the floor earlier. We don’t allow floor-people in first class. I have to ask you to move.”

“Ma’am, your seat mates are complaining. I don’t think your denim jacket is hiding your airport-Popeyes stink as well as you think it is. I have to ask you to move.”

“Ma’am, we heard you don’t even own one horse. I have to ask you to move.”

I’ve always had mixed feelings about first class. It always seemed vaguely Hunger Games-y:

“Here is your five course meal, a warm towel, a bowl of artisinal nuts, and the blood of your enemies!”


basically, me

Why pay that much extra for a seat that takes you to the same place as the huddled masses two feet behind you? Coach isn’t that terrible. Your knee only bruise a little bit from being smashed into the seat in front of you. On some days, I even felt a little embarrassed for the first class passengers.

Is extra legroom, free snacks, free checked bag, and all the tiny paper pillows you can imagine really the best use of your money?

Ok, yeah. First class is pretty great.

And how do I know? You guys, I was bumped to first class! That never happens to me, and I’ve gotta tell you, I was not cool about it.


I tried to take a picture, but forgot my flash was on, so the whole cabin lit up because they dimmed the lights.

Let’s start from the beginning. I really wanted to fit in, so waiting to board, I was trying to think of my best first class conversation topics with which to charm my seat mates:

  • Yacht maintenance
  • Our respective horse collections
  • Specialty monogram stitching patterns
  • Ridding the world of floor-people
  • Gold

Except once I got on the plane, no one talked to me! No one even looked at me! Guys, in coach, the passengers become best friends (whether you like it or not)! A teenage girl just spent an hour and a half long flight telling me her favorite Anime characters. How will I rank the first class cabin’s favorite Anime characters?!

I was about to loudly announce as much when I got distracted by my first freebies. The red blanket and the tiny paper pillow. I’m used to viewing these waiting in the spare first class seats as I begin my trudge to what is inevitably the coach seat directly in front of the bathroom, and now I have a weird tiny paper pillow of my very own! Oh la la!

I ripped into my red blanket package- for it is still wrapped in plastic- the way one does with a rogue cherry Starburst from the bottom of your purse: Frantically while making panicked victory noises, afraid someone will take it away. And once wrapped in my blanket, I downed my freebie-sized bottle of Dasani in two gulps. Was I too excited to pace myself? Maybe. Is the bigger truth, travel-sized Dasani bottles are comically small? Yes. What up with that, Dasani?

Earlier I mentioned knee-bruises as a potential risk of flying Coach. I mention it because it’s real. I have an actual, real, purple on pale, bruise from being beamed with the reclined seat back in front of me while my legs were crossed. Because reclining your seat is always a jerk move. You are making the active choice to make someone else’s life less comfortable. That’s on you.

Except if you sit in first class. The older man in front of me reclined his seat, and while mustering the appropriate indignation I realized that I was fine. My knees still didn’t reach the seat back in front of me. I couldn’t enact the reign of jostling terror that usually accompanies a reclined airplane seat because my legs literally wouldn’t reach that far.

What is this place?

Now, if I learned anything from grad school, I learned how to never waste a snack. I flew immediately after a meal, so I knew I wouldn’t be getting the five course meal/whole roasted chicken/three-tiered cake, but I would milk the snack basket every time it made the rounds.

Or as it turned out: round. Our flight attendant brought out the basket, and at first glance, it looked mostly filled with peanuts. Airplane peanuts. The normal non-artisinal kind.

I almost threw my tiny paper pillow on the floor in a fit of first-class rage. And for the curious, first-class-rage manifests itself as me gently placing my paper pillow on the floor, and shrieking, “poppycock!” And slapping the flight attendant across the face with, not a glove, but my red Delta blanket.

As it turns out, the basket held more than airplane peanuts. Phewf! Am I right? I picked out the citrus-chili roasted corn. And as a funny coincidence, that’s my favorite of all the roasted corn snacks.


Spotted: free red Delta blanket

When it came time to pick out a drink, I consulted the Sky magazine food menus to determine “which one looks the most expensive.” (My actual thought process.) Guys, drinks were free. This is no time for flat ginger ale.

Now is when I’d like to call out our flight attendant. She was lovely, and did a great job, but I wonder how she feels about carrying snacks around in a tiny-paper-pillow sized basket instead of the typical obelisk-esque cart? Having to remember drink orders and deliver them to people five minutes later, one at a time? Collecting trash on a tray?

Because I’m not going to lie to you. My trash can go in a bag. I’m pretty sure everyone’s trash can go in a bag. That’s why trash bags are so popular.


What is this? The rambling of a floor person?


“First thing I’m doing when the plane lands is buy a trash tray!”

I seriously got so befuddled by the trash tray that I never actually threw my trash away. I panicked every time the trash tray made the rounds. I actually think the trash is still in my purse.

My multiple showings of the trash tray made me think that my ride was coming to an end. I decided to end on a high note, listening to a podcast. (That’s a high note for me.)

It was the New Yorker Radio Hour. I held my phone up prominently, so people could tell I was cultured. My previous assault on my roasted corn bag did not indicate that this was the case.

Seriously, it’s a great podcast. I recommend it.

Would I recommend first class? Yes, but only if you are slapped in there through fate’s precocious twists. If you’re paying for it, don’t pay for it.

It’s super comfortable, and your knees don’t get bruised and there are free blankets involved, but yacht talk is boring especially when there is no talk and one can only assume that everyone is thinking about yachts. Thinking about yachts, and playing the game “Daughter or Trophy Wife.”

That being said, Delta, I’m totally down for round 2.


4 thoughts on “A Floor-Person in a Strange Land

  1. This is the best thing I’ve read all week!! Can somebody please pay for you to be flown around the world, stopping everywhere, and documenting your hilarious and enlightening and thoughtful take on it all?!? I might be the biggest fan… I’m going to attempt to draw attention to you and your fabulous writing skills with hashtags: #travel #hilarious #genius #travelguru #travelinggenius #lovetravel #niceandwise #funnythingsonaplane #firstclasstraveler #Delta #Funflying #millenialexplorer #lookoutworld #snarksonaplane #travelpillowchronicles #flyinghigh #firstclasshero #whittywoman I hope this works…

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