For your in-flight entertainment….

I’m writing this at about 35,000 feet in the air somewhere above a “square state” on my way to San Francisco. What other venue would be more appropriate for me to write a post?

This has already been an eventful experience. My sweetie donated his miles to me so that we could see each other in San Francisco. Sometimes using frequent flyer miles can make for some strange detours. I had to go from Chicago to San Francisco via St. Louis. It doesn’t make sense from a routing standpoint, but I’ll take the flights where I can: It’s two flights for one way! Yes, I think this is cool. Pathetic, I know. Does anybody like to connect?

Anyway, I’m heading to my gate for my United Express (operated by GoJet) flight. I notice the agent working the gate. She looks SO familiar. It hit me like a bolt out of the blue. IT’S SANDY! We worked together all those years ago at American. We had lots of fun together. Sandy was my day-trip buddy! I took my first non-rev with her. We had day-trips to Montreal, Minneapolis, New Orleans and more. It was always a gigglefest working together. Sandy is one of the fondest of my fond memories of my American Airlines era. After our last layoff she applied with United and moved from terminal three to one. Why didn’t I think of that!

We even had to go through the hell that was training at the “Charm Farm” in Dallas together. Sandy had to complete the grooming course! She came out of the class with her head hung low. She whispered to me that she looked “like a drag queen!” Sadly, she did.

Hugs, giggles and more were gushed at the gate when we realized who we were. It was a few glorious moments of connecting with our mutual history. Sandy brought the departure paperwork onboard and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. It was a sweet moment I won’t soon forget.

The flight leaves the gate right on time. The crew announces that there will be a free Coca Cola products beverage service. The flight attendant gives me a sly conspiratorial smile and asks me what I would “really” like. I say “vodka”? Apparently the booze is only offered in the tiny first-class cabin as the flight is so short that running credit cards in coach would take too long.

Long story short, those lovely ladies made sure that those cute little airline bottles were never less than half empty. It’s amazing how much vodka I can swill in 45 minutes! I love being considered “industry,” which Sandy arranged. Part of me is desperate to be real industry again. It could also be all the vodka.

My connection in St. Louis was flawless. I checked with the very young gentleman working my departure about getting a window closer to the front. All that was available was any exit row aisle. I rarely give up a window seat. However it’s nighttime here in seat 21D anyway. I was struck by the fact that all the staff at the gates in St. Louis looked liked kindergarten graduates. I guess that job is for the young. So what do I miss more? My youth or my job with American? Since I like myself a lot better at 45 than 25 it must be the job.

I had enough time to leave security and see the main terminal. It was designed by Minoru Yamasaki almost 60 years ago. The sweeping lines and bright areas have been preserved – a good thing.

I had a quick, ridiculously expensive sandwich and beer. The flight left the gate right on time. So here I sit. I simply love the whole atmosphere of being on an aircraft. The drone of the engines. The takeoff and climb thrill me. Seeing the earth sink away as we take to the heavens never stops fascinating me. It always seams like some kind of minor miracle that I am now speeding through the stratosphere, which everybody is taking for granted as though they were riding on the subway.

Part of the flying experience is an in-flight meal. I bought the soba noodle chicken salad. It was actually quite tasty. It was bigger and better than a lot of “free” coach meals I’ve had placed in front of me.

I got to reconnect, however briefly, with an old friend and coworker. I allowed myself more nostalgia than usual while flying. Getting the “insider” extra-special service was a nice added bonus.

Assuming my bag is on the belt when I land, this is going to be one of my best travel days in a long time.*

We are beginning to descend. I need to stow all my iDevices along with my bittersweet memories.

Here’s a toast to you Sandy!

(*For some reason that even United could not  explain, my bag was placed on the later non-stop flight from Chicago. My bag arrived almost two hours after I did. Thanks for the crappy denouement!)