Etihad Airways First Class with one occupant (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Etihad Airways First Class with one occupant (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

“Excuse me, madam, would you be interested in an upgrade to First Class this morning?”

Well, let me think …. it was about 4 a.m. right then so the world was already getting on my last nerve, I did happen to have a bit of money available after a speaking engagement, I was looking at 20+ hours of transit time returning to the U.S. from a travel technology conference in India, via Abu Dhabi ….

The upgrade would only be for the first flight leg of my journey on Etihad Airways (about four hours) but you know what?

“Yes, thank you, I believe I will do that.”

That day, however, I was the only person in the first class cabin, and it made for a peculiar feeling.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve flown first or business class, which means there have been very few times when I’ve been escorted to the head of the aircraft embarkation line, eaten in the air with actual metal utensils, had a flight attendant hover over me, had plenty of leg room plus a footrest (similar to the ones you get on any nice bus, ironically,) have never had to wait to use the toilet and been escorted off the plane first, to a special bus that took me  - and only me, in this instance in Abu Dhabi – to the terminal.

Egalitarian and always-queue-up-fairly to my bones, I was acutely aware of the crowded coach class cabin on the other side of the privacy curtain.

Free booze was not an issue if that’s what you’re thinking; on an international flight on a non-U.S. airline anyone can get free alcohol if they want it, in coach or first. Plus, it was 8 a.m. I know it’s “always 5 o’clock somewhere,” but I was not feeling the urge to get blotto.

As usual, everyone jumped up as soon as we landed and were ready to disembark, but the eyes all looked up at First Class and waited for us….well, me….to exit first.

I learned that I do NOT make for a very good princess when I travel.

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