Full Comfort Class

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

When taking their first flight in many years, will an older couple experience travel misery or travel in full comfort class?

April 1, 2022 – Casper, Wyoming, USA

The new suit remained in Richard Beaumont’s closet until the special occasion for which it was purchased.  As his wind-chapped fingers struggled with tie, his wife, Alma, zipped up her new dress and smoothed its creases below her knees.

As Alma added her string of pearls around her neck, Richard said, “We look pretty good.  We clean up nice when we want to.”

“Not bad for our age,” added Alma.  “We should go to weddings more often.”

“Seems like we go to plenty of weddings.  What I don’t do very often is put on a suit.”

“Like I’ve been saying, seeing your first grandson married deserves a new suit.”

“The bride’s family is going to see right through us no matter how many new suits I’ve got.  I’m always gonna be some hayseed from Wyoming.”

“They’ll like meeting a real cowboy,” replied Alma with a grin.

“Then maybe I should show up in my boots.”

“A cowboy in a suit is much better.  And stop worrying.  Folks always like you no matter how fancy they are or how much money they’ve got.  Remember when that Bill Gates fellow spent so much time talking with you about farmland?”

“Sure.  But he wasn’t expecting to be in-laws with me.”

Alma took a last look at her hair and then walked through the ranch house turning off lights.  After leaving the bathroom, she returned to check that the blow dryer was unplugged.  She did the same thing with the iron in the washing room.  Alma said to herself, “I’m sure I’m forgetting something.”

“No, you’re not,” called Richard from the doorway.  “We go through this every time you leave the house.  If we don’t get going, they’ll start the whole operation without us.”

Alma grabbed her purse and took one last look at the dishes drying on the counter.  With a nod, she and Richard stepped out into the dark, chilly morning.  Richard’s most reliable vehicle, his work truck, was parked on the gravel near the porch.  Its windows were clean and the larger clumps of spring mud had been knocked off the wheel wells.

“Up you go,” said Richard, opening the passenger side door for his wife.  He hurried to the driver’s seat and cranked the diesel engine to a rumble.

“I hope it doesn’t snow,” said Alma.  She kept her eyes on the wire fence running parallel to the dirt road and illuminated by the truck’s headlights.  After a mile, the truck’s tires met pavement and the ride changed from a pounding hammer to a rolling drum.

Sisters Clarisse and Debbie found each other outside the security checkpoints in the Denver International Airport.  They had a total of three kids and one husband in tow as they pulled out boarding passes and identification cards.

“The only way I can survive airplanes is dressing like I’m going to the gym,” Clarisse told her sister.  “Look, I’ve got my stretchy shorts and top below and lots of layers on top.  That way, I can adjust if I’m too hot or too cold.”

“This is the same way I dress for bed,” said Debbie, pointing out her own outfit.  “I know I’m going to fall asleep, so I’ve got nothing but sweatpants and sweatshirts.  And flipflops to speed up the security check.”

Debbie turned to one of her daughters and said, “Show your Aunt Clarisse your shoes.”

The little girl held up a foot covered by a plastic slipper.

“She’s always losing her shoes on trips,” continued Debbie.  “The ones she’s wearing only cost a couple of dollars.  If she leaves them on the plane, no big deal.”

“Smart,” replied Clarisse.  “How long is this flight supposed to be?”

“Almost four hours.  I’ve never been to Newark before.  I hope it’s nice.”

“After all I’ve heard about the bride’s family being so rich, it better be like walking through Disneyworld.  I’m picturing their house like Sleeping Beauty’s castle or something.”

“I hope you packed more than your gym clothes,” said Debbie with a laugh.

“Why did she have to choose green for a wedding color?  I returned three different dresses before I got one I liked.”


“Same here.  You saw a picture of the one I kept.  As long as we match each other, we’ll be fine.”

The sisters and their entourage spilled past the security check with maximum complaining.  One of the cheap plastic shoes was lost and Debbie’s daughter walked through the rest of the airport on one bare foot.  Shane, the sisters’ older brother, was waiting at the departure gate.  His son, Jacob, was marrying the girl from New Jersey.

“Thanks for coming, you guys,” Shane said to his sisters.  “I know it’s a long way.”


“Couldn’t you convince Jacob to get married in Hawaii?” asked Clarisse, jokingly.

“I don’t think Jacob had much of a say,” replied Shane.  “But I’ve seen pictures of the reception place.  It’s going to be first class all the way.”

“It better be.  We’re first-class kind of people,” said Debbie with a cackling laugh.

“She’ll have all her friends and family there,” continued Shane.  “It’s nice Jacob can have some family too.”


“I can’t believe you convinced Mom and Dad to come,” said Debbie.

“At first Dad wanted to drive.  You know how he is.  But I told him we would all be on the plane together and it would be fun and so much shorter.  I don’t think they’ve flown anywhere for fifty years.”


“That’s so crazy,” said Clarisse.

“Are they going to make it through security and everything?” asked Debbie.

“I told them I wanted to help, but you know how stubborn Dad is.  He said they could do it all themselves.”

“I’m not worried.  They’ll figure things out.  They always do,” concluded Clarisse.

 

When Richard and Alma arrived at the Denver airport, they drove slowly and watched carefully for the signs directing them to long term parking.  They boarded a bus and were not afraid to ask the driver if they were doing the right thing.  They repeated their questions when they reached the airline’s check-in counter.  Rather than bother with the automated kiosks, Richard and Alma were content to wait in line to talk with a human.

“We haven’t been in an airport for fifty years.  What do we do next?” Richard asked the woman at the counter.

The woman patiently explained showing boarding passes and I.D. at security.  Richard and Alma nodded and then had the same conversation with a TSA agent standing at the front of the security line.  After Richard and Alma joined the long string of people ready for screening, they had time to take a closer look at their surroundings.  Richard compared his suit, which still looked well-pressed despite the long drive from Casper, to the casual outfits surrounding him.

“This is different than I remember it,” Richard whispered to Alma.  “People don’t look like they’re on their way to anywhere special.”

“They look like they just rolled out of bed,” Alma whispered back.  “And didn’t bother combing their hair.”


“Look at all the dogs around.  I didn’t know you could take dogs on a plane.”

“Feels like we’re in a park,” said Alma.

When Richard reached the terahertz inspection pod, he forgot to remove his belt and his tie clip.  After an embarrassing pat down, Richard said to Alma, “This is why we don’t take airplanes.” 

They were finally released into the vast hallway linking departure gates.  Richard continued to check the gate number printed on his boarding pass in case they had missed something.  He stopped someone wearing a uniform and asked if he was headed in the right direction for the flight to Newark.

 

Waiting at the Newark flight’s gate, Clarisse, Debbie, and Shane were growing worried about their parents.  Shane was the first to call out, “Oh, there they are!” as Richard and Alma approached.  The older couple looked overwhelmed.

“What are they wearing?  Why is Dad in a suit?  Did they think the wedding was at the airport?” Debbie asked with a laugh.

Their young grandkids ran to greet Richard and Alma with hugs and questions about where they would be sitting on the plane.

“I’m not sure,” answered Alma.  “Maybe we can ask if we can all sit together.”

“Where do you guys think you’re going?” called Debbie when her parents were close enough to hear.  “You’re supposed to dress comfortable.  You’re more dressed up than I’ve ever seen you.  It’s like you’re on your way to the opera.”


“We’re going somewhere special.  We thought we should dress up for it,” replied Alma.

“No one dresses up to fly,” added Clarisse.

“That’s not how I remember it,” said Richard, trying not to look embarrassed.

“Then maybe you should fly more often,” said Debbie.  “Flying these days is all about maximizing comfort.  Look at what I’m wearing.  I can take off one of my sweatshirts and use it as a pillow.  I can lose my flipflops and relax.  You’re never going to relax wearing what you’re wearing.”

“Dad, maybe you should have worn a tuxedo,” added Clarisse with another laugh.

“Don’t tease your father,” replied Alma in a loving but defensive voice.  “There’s nothing wrong with looking nice.  So what if we’re overdressed compared to you?”

Richard acted uninterested in the conversation about clothes.  He turned to Alma and said, “We better check in with the woman at the counter.”

Shane smiled and tried to stop his father.  “You don’t have to do that, Dad.  Once you have your boarding pass, you just wait until they tell you it’s your turn to get on.”

“I’d still like to talk to her, just to be sure,” said Richard.

Shane chuckled.  “Then go ahead.  You can waste your time if you want.”

“We’ll be right back,” said Alma.  “Be patient with us and let us do our thing.”

Richard and Alma walked to the counter positioned next to the jetway.  They joined a short line and overheard a man in front of them arguing with the gate agent.  The man wore a tomato-red shirt stretched tight over his bulging chest and stomach.  He yelled about his status as a frequent flier and how he deserved an upgrade.

“I’ve been flying with this airline for twenty years.  I know my rights,” he screamed as his face grew as red as his shirt.

“I understand.  I’ve been working for this airline for twenty-five years,” the woman behind the counter answered.  “I’ll do everything I can.”

“I want to talk with someone competent!”

“I’m the supervisor on shift, but if you take a seat, I can have someone from our corporate office call you.”

The frequent flier swore and threatened and eventually slunk away from the counter.

Richard and Alma timidly stepped forward.  “I think you were very understanding with that man.  No one would blame you for losing your temper,” Alma whispered to the gate agent.

“Thank you,” the agent replied with a tired smile.

“We don’t mean to be a nuisance, but we haven’t been on an airplane in fifty years and want to make sure we’re doing things right,” said Richard.  He showed the agent his boarding pass and asked, “Do you need to see this?”

“You’re fine.  You’ve got all you need,” said the agent.  “You’re flying for a special occasion?”

“Our grandson’s wedding,” said Alma.  “We drove down from Casper this morning.  Our kids are laughing at us for being so dressed up, but we thought this was how we were supposed to dress when you fly.  Like it was something special.  Sorry that we look so formal.”

“Don’t be sorry.  I wish more people thought it was special.  You came all the way from Casper, huh?  You know, that’s where my husband grew up.  Tell you what, let me see if I can make this flight extra special for you.  Let me see those boarding passes.  I’ll see if I can get you better seats.”

Richard and Alma returned to their kids holding a new pair of boarding passes.

“Did the gate agent tell you to sit down and shut up?” Shane asked his father.

“Nah, she was real nice.  She swapped our seats,” said Richard, holding out the new passes.

“Wait, these are for First Class!” exclaimed Richard, turning the passes over, looking for a mistake.

“She said she liked the way we were dressed.  She wanted to make our flight special,” added Alma.

Clarisse and Debbie took a turn staring open-mouthed at the passes.

“I thought you wanted to sit next to the grandkids,” said Debbie.  “I can trade seats with you.”

“Don’t listen to her, Mom,” warned Shane.

When the boarding doors opened and the call came for First Class passengers, Shane urged his parents to get on the plane and not to worry about the rest of the family.  Richard and Alma were taken to their seats by a flight attendant who asked them about a drink order.  The same attendant blocked their view of the aisle as they studied the lunch menu.  Kids and grandkids walked past without Richard and Alma noticing.

Richard found his seat more comfortable than the recliner in his living room.  He and Alma stretched out and enjoyed a movie of their choice.  They both complimented the flight attendant on the taste of the roast beef served with roasted potatoes.

“I keep hearing people complain about airplane food, but it tasted pretty great to me,” said Richard.

He and Alma were the first people off the plane when it landed in New Jersey.  They brushed the wrinkles from their suit and dress as they waited for the rest of the family.  Clarisse and Debbie stumbled out of the jetway looking frazzled.  Debbie held up a flipflop with a broken strap.

“What did you choose for lunch, the roast beef or the chicken?” Alma asked her daughters.

“What are you talking about?  We didn’t get lunch!” cried Debbie.

“You didn’t?  I’m sorry.  I should have shared some of mine.  How about your seats?  I thought mine was very comfortable.  I was a little worried, but I didn’t mind flying after all.  Maximum comfort, like you said.”

“That’s because you were sitting in First Class,” cried Debbie.  “Must have been nice.  What I wouldn’t give to sit in First Class.”

After watching her daughter struggle with her flipflop, Alma smiled sweetly and said, “I’ve got an idea for you.  Next time you should try dressing up and wearing shoes.  They might pick you for First Class too.”

 

For more stories like this one, including audio versions, visit 500ironicstories.com


Submitted: December 03, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Aaron Hawkins. All rights reserved.

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