By Doris Schroeder
In the days gone by, especially during the seventies and into the very first part of the present century, travel by flying was wonderful, yes, even in the coach class section. We could choose our seats. we were served good meals and snacks. we could watch good movies on the long flights and the attendants catered to our needs and if possible, some of our other whims. We usually looked forward to the flight itself, even on the longer trips to Europe or Hawaii, my favorite destination.
During these trips, we also became acquainted with the “air miles” program that we could earn by using a certain credit card. Up to this point, we did not adhere to buying things on credit, but decided we would always pay our total amount due each month earning points for travel as well. This worked so well: we were flown to Hawaii several times during this 25-year period.
Never, however, had we ever been able to fly first class. That was a secret dream of mine, although I never thought it would come to pass! Sometimes God does give us an unexpected treat when we really don’t think it possible. First, He gave me a lesson in patience, which God is prone to do.
Our last Hawaiian trip started from the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in 2006. We had checked our luggage, received our tickets and went to the waiting room to await the call to board. An hour went by and I noticed some of the other passengers were getting fidgety. I didn’t mind. I enjoyed watching the others so I could see if they, too, were having trouble with patience.
After two hours, however, I, too, succumbed to a bit of uneasiness/ A passenger near us commented they were having trouble with the engine. Finally the announcement came “We need a part for the engine and have to send off to get it!”
Even hubby was uneasy by then so when we heard the final announcement “Since it is such a long delay, all of you go down to the desks and rebook your flight or find another airline!”
We grabbed our carry on luggage and stampeded down the ramp to the American Airline desk on the first floor, wondering how we could possibly work this out.
I was probably the 80th passenger standing in line while John checked out some of the other airlines. Some younger businesswomen were standing near me and I overheard their conversation “Can you imagine being stuck in Wichita, Kansas, of all places!”
I couldn’t help myself from asking what was wrong with Wichita. It seems they were all familiar with the movie “Planes, trains and automobiles” and had no idea Wichita had other businesses other than pigs.
We were soon all chatting away like we women are prone to do. I was even beginning to wonder if we would have to cancel our trip. The young(er) women told me some of their experiences they had getting stranded in some places in the country. Then they began to look at me skeptically and came up with an idea for me when I got to the desk.
“Just put your hand on your heart and act like you’re going to have a heart attack!” I guess they had already surmised I was an “older” lady. “Then they’ll feel sorry for you and put you and your husband in first class!”
Though I knew I wouldn’t do that because that would be dishonest, I laughed at their suggestion, even though I knew it wouldn’t be hard to fake a heart attack!
As my turn at the desk came, I breathed a quick prayer to God and stepped up to the desk, The attendant began fiddling around with his computer, just as another worker came and informed him the plane was fixed. Typing some more, he informed me “The only change for you and your husband is that you will need to make two stops in California before boarding for Hawaii.”
I waited anxiously for what else he would say…whether it would be something encouraging or something that would be a problem. “And we are boarding both you and your husband on first class for the last leg of the trip!”
This time my heart almost did stop. Fly first class from California to Hawaii! That was a dream I had never expected to materialize. I told John and if we had been a year younger, we would have jumped for joy!
We happily boarded our plane, made our two stops in California and waited in line in San Francisco for our Hawaiian flight. We felt like a king and queen when we were seated in the first class cabin. Our attendants hovered over us as they made us comfortable, brought us warm nuts and a soft drink in a glass. Later, we could choose our meal and it was served delightfully. Later, we tried to stay awake so we could enjoy it all night but we soon succumbed to dreaming…! Our second to the last airplane ride ended in a wonderful way.
We know its almost a certainty we will not be able to fly first class on this earth again, but we do know when God calls us home to heaven, it will be in a way that’s far beyond that and much more joyous. We have both accepted Jesus into our life so we know it will be more than first class, it will be heavenly!
Doris welcomes your remarks and can be reached at [email protected]