Maxed out 

A glimpse at life on the other side of the curtain

You never know the truth about another person until you walk a mile in their shoes. Of course, most of us have only a passing interest in the truth about others and given the choice, would prefer all of them keep their shoes on around us. The universal aversion to wearing shoes worn by others may well explain why bowling remains a marginal sport.

But I had a rare opportunity to slide my tootsies into the silken slippers of the more economically fortunate recently and I’m back to tell you it has changed my life. Well, maybe not my life, but my whole outlook on flying.

I have explained my aversion to flying as a mode of mass travel but in case I wasn’t clear, I’d rather fly an ultralight aircraft through a flock of migrating Canada geese during an End of the World lightning storm than step foot on most commercial airlines.

As a general rule, that still holds true. But if some benevolent booking agent takes pity on my poor soul and upgrades me to first class, that, as it turns out, is another story altogether.

Delta Airlines recently did just that on my flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires and back. It wasn’t a completely benevolent gesture on their part. By upgrading a herd of writers they probably hoped to avoid running out of alcohol in Economy and most definitely expected some ink of the PR persuasion. This is my quo for their quid.

Any dread I felt about a long layover in Atlanta vanished when I stepped into Delta’s Business Elite lounge. My flight, not surprisingly, was delayed by a couple of hours. The Elites of Bidniz, after all, arrive at their destination the same time as the lost and tortured souls in Economy and since delays are unavoidable in Economy, it is a cross also borne by the more privileged.

Oh the humanity. Forced to while away the time in comfy leather armchairs, distracted by complimentary bar service, nourished from a groaning board of meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and delicate desserts, tempted toward productivity by convenient computer workstations and entertained by late night television, we suffered the delay with equanimity.

Meanwhile, back at the gate, the 218 passengers bound for Steerage played Musical Chairs for the 198 available seats, searched unsuccessfully for vending machines and threatened the well-being of a sleepy clerk from the Duty Free kiosk nervously guarding the purchases destined for our again delayed flight.

Thoroughly lubricated and well-fed, we had already established the theme for both the flight and the remainder of our press junket to Argentina by the time we boarded the plane: More of Everything! Hey, it worked for Seinfeld and being writers we weren’t shy about borrowing from the best.

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