I should have been in Barcelona this week. Somehow I ended up flying business class to Shannon, Ireland instead. In case you’re new to my blog, I have been flying on standby status thanks to a family member’s job with a major US airline. This means I can fly for free, as long as there is space available. Flying standby, especially to Europe in high season, can get pretty volatile. The morning of my flight, there were 17 open seats to Barcelona. A few hours later, the plane was oversold.
My only other options to Europe that night were Frankfurt, Germany or Shannon, Ireland. I was killing time during my layover in an Irish bar, and feeling a bit adventurous. So, I opted for Shannon. Shannon is a tiny airport near Limerick, on the West Coast of Ireland. I had never heard of it, making it all the more appealing. After some quick research, I found out it was close to Galway, a city I’d been dying to visit.
The gate agent told me the plane was basically empty, and let me pick my seat assignment. After selecting an exit row, his reply made my night: “Why would you want the exit row when you can sit in business class?” When they announced priority boarding, I jumped up and did an awkward half-sprint over to the priority lane. Definitely not cool, but I just wanted to get on the plane after being stuck at the airport all day.
While waiting in the priority lane, I got some funny looks from a few people. I sometimes fly in first-class domestically, and I usually get some glances from economy passengers while they’re heading to the back of the plane. To be fair, one time I saw an eight-year-old in a First Class suite from Miami to Buenos Aires, and I rolled my eyes a bit as well. I’m sure when I’m middle-aged, I will look at anybody in their young twenties in First Class with contempt as well.
The staring didn’t stop at boarding though. Once I got to my seat, I realized I was maybe 1/3 the age of everyone else in the cabin. The flight attendant seemed surprised to see me since I was added to his roster at the last minute. He politely tried to figure out what the hell I was doing there, and I think everyone was else was curious as well.
Expecting to endure the flight in economy, I came bearing bags of snacks and two neck pillows. I looked a bit ridiculous with my haul. They feed you well in Business Class, and the fully reclining seats leave little use for an extra pillow.
Before sitting down, I tried my best to discretely take some pictures. Thankfully nobody noticed, otherwise I would have been mortified. The flight attendant made sure to embarrass me later though when he loudly asked if I was old enough to have champagne. Promptly after receiving my champagne, I spilled it while trying to take more pictures unnoticed. Fortunately, none of it got on me or the sweet Irish lady sitting next to me. The only champagne casualty was my copy of the menu – which was offered in Gaelic as well.
My beef crust filet dinner was delicious, as were the starting courses and desserts. Please excuse the blurry photos, I was trying to be discrete since nobody else seemed to be as eager to document the experience as I was. There was a lot of turbulence as well, and I ended up spilling some balsamic vinegar on my shirt. My sweet, grandma-like neighbor insisted on making me a napkin bib. This didn’t really go with the sophisticated business-class look I was
trying failing to pull off. Saying no to a charming Irish lady is tough though, so the bib stayed on.
This woman was a pleasure to talk to, but somehow to the conversation switched to Bruce Jenner’s recent 20/20 interview. She was supportive of Bruce but not a fan of the Kardashians. Nor did she understand who they were and why they were famous.
This resulted in an hour-long conversation of me explaining the show to her and giving her an in-depth analysis of each Kardashian. As a millennial, I know more about the Kardashian clan than I care to admit. Other people overheard bits of our conversation, and must have thought I was gushing over them. This resulted in a few more funny looks and some comments from the flight attendant. When I was watching HBO’s Girls on the tablet offered to business class passengers, an older man across the aisle inquired if I was studying the Kardashians.
At this point, I decided it was time for me to sleep and to give up on trying to mesh with my fellow passengers. While I was sleeping, I managed to knock over my glass of red wine. I deplaned with a huge stain on my white jacket, which I didn’t even realize until after landing. Fortunately, my previous experiences in First and Business Class were uneventful. Maybe next time I’ll just stick to coach…but probably not.