My reduction in flying Delta Air Lines has been a mix of reduction in my work travel schedule and flying other airlines to gain status. (It can't have anything to do with this post.) I'm sure if I flew on Delta or a SkyTeam Airline Alliance partner to Italy in November I'd have my status.
But no, I didn't plan like that and now have to board in Zone 8 (vs. Zone 1 or Zone 2), as I did when flying to Asheville last weekend. Zone 8! It means I have to pray there's overhead space available, no priority seating, no reserving a premium seat when booking my flight and no longer checking THREE bags on for free (in fact, come May, I'll only be able to check ONE bag on and pay $25 for a second). I have to wait in the gate area longer while my colleagues board ahead of me and no longer will I be eligible for first class upgrades.
Speaking of not being able to choose groovy seating in advance, last Sunday I was smack-dab in the middle of 50+ high schoolers heading to San Francisco...who've never flown...at 6:30 a.m. I usually sleep on those 38-minute flights to Atlanta but no. I had to listen to kids yelling behind me how the plane was going to crash, explode and we'd all die. Not cool, kids. Not cool.
When my eyes did drift shut, I jumped to find the girl sitting next to me leaning on me so she could take a photo of the sunrise. Precious, I know. But not when I had a 4-hour nap and had the stress of going through airport security, wondering if I'm long over due for a molestation by TSA. Luckily not me this time but my laptop.
Maybe I should write an etiquette guide for the first-time flier. Hmm....in the meantime, I'll keep telling myself I'm trying to keep grounded when I'm boarding in Zone 8.