It had seemed a good idea at the time. An upgrade to “Premium Economy” was just a sliver away from First Class, literally. Annie and her husband, Richard, could easily view the goings on behind “the barrier”, just an arm’s length away. However, watching the ethereal movements of the pretty flight attendant as she catered to the needs of her charges was a pleasureless pastime on this five hour flight. The thin mesh curtain acted more as a device of torture and subjugation to the cattle in Economy, than a privacy shield for elite travelers.
From her superior position at the head of the Economy herd, Annie savored her “free” Bloody Mary and extra inch of leg room, unable to tear her eyes away from the thinly veiled activities before her. The offerings of heated mixed nuts, meals, bonus booze, pillows, blankies, and little moist wash clothes to clean First Class fingers seemed endless. The attendant’s voice was soft and soothing so as not to startle or bristle the delicate sensitivities of the better jetters. Annie frowned.
Even with her raised status she felt obliged to profusely thank the Economy attendant for her substandard attention, lest she displease her. And dare Annie suffer a disapproving glare by requesting an extra two ounce bag of pretzels, too? She thought not. She had paid an exorbitant price for this flight, but not that much.
It was shortly after snack time when the uncomfortable contraction squeeze her lower abdomen. The dreaded, yet inevitable, urge to use the facilities. Annie glanced at Richard and the knowing was mutual. Their situation was dire, trapped in seats E and F, by the man in D and their tray tables were fully loaded. Fortunately, Annie and Richard were not novice travelers. No. With a reciprocal nod, they understood the mission. Tossing back the last of their drinks, the two made quick work of stacking, packing and stashing their trash. They snapped their trays into the upright position. Phase One complete.
In the center seat, it was Annie’s duty to initiate Phase Two. Escape from their hostage situation. She glanced at Mr D. His ear buds where lodged deep inside his impressively ears. His eyes where shut. His right arm rested hoggishly over the shared armrest. Annie pile-drived it with her nearly atrophied elbow. No response. Mr. D. was out cold. Her bladder seized in offense of his audacity. A desperation climaxed within Annie, launching her into action.
With stunning flexibility, she twizzled her body until she was in a semi-crouching position facing the seat. Then, arching her back slightly, she stretched her right leg over Mr. D, simultaneously pushing off from her headrest to his. It was a maneuver of unparalleled agility that would have impressed masters of both yoga and Thai Chi alike. She straddling Mr. D’s lap obscenely and prayed he did not wake up now. She tried to control her liquored breath as she peered into his serene face. A long brown hair drifted from her head and spiraled over his crooked nose. Mr. D’s expression twitched and contracted before he released a violent snort. Annie nearly peed. With deft reflexes she threw herself off of him, into the narrow the isle, with one desperate move.
Richard followed closely behind with a lot less grace, subsequently waking poor Mr. D. with a knee to the groin. The man cried out in surprise and anguish.
“Sorry! Sorry!” Richard cringed with an empathy that united all men.
Free of their confinement, Annie and Richard gaged the situation. It was dire. The rise of a bladder rebellion was underway as others do-si-do’d in the isle like impotent wrestlers. Three people had already formed a line near the rear bathrooms. Annie’s eyes darted to the serene domain of the curtained Alpha quadrant. Not a creature stirred there. No one waited to use the toilette. With a swipe of her hand the barrier was obliterated and together she and Richard plunged into the forbidden realm. Phase three.
Advancing quickly along the dimly lit isle, the heady scent of victory engulfed them – or, perhaps, freshly brewed coffee – as they breached the landing at the head of First Class. Annie’s fingers grazed the cool metal handle of the lavatory door, meaning to snatch it open, when a hand latched onto her wrist from the shadows.
“Can I help you?” The face of the pretty flight attendant appeared next to Annie. Her badge said Becky”.
“Just, you know, visiting Uncle John,” Annie chuckled, pulling back.
“I’m sorry, but that’s not permitted,” Becky informed her primly.
“What, using the toilette?”
“Using this toilette, ma’am.”
“How’s that?” Annie gaped.
“This is First Class, ma’am.”
Becky pointed a slim finger past Annie’s ear.
“You’re lavatory is back there.”
“There’s a line back there.”
“Yes, there is.”
“I can’t wait that long.” Annie made another grab for the lavatory handle.
The delicate looking attendant served a sharp karate chop to Annie’s wrist, thwarting her objective.
“This lavatory is for First Class passengers only.”
Annie glowered, rubbing her wrist.
“My ass isn’t classy enough for this bathroom?”
“FAA regulations, ma’am.”
Annie chuckled at the ridiculousness.
“I won’t tell them, if you don’t.”
“Breaking the rules would not be right or fair to the First Class passengers, ma’am.”
Annie glanced over her shoulder at the slack faces of the dozing elite. “Right. They do appear outraged,” she said, sarcastically. “Perhaps the scent of my urine puddle will subdue them.”
“I don’t appreciate your vulgar humor.”
Annie glared back.
“I’m not joking.”
“What is your seat number, ma’am?”
Annie pointed in the general direction of their vacant seats.
“Ah…E and F, Premium,” the attendant confirmed.
Annie raised her eyebrows. “So we’re cool?”
Becky’s face was impenetrable, her eyes unwavering. Annie tentatively reached for the door once again. The attendant sprang at her, leveraging her forearm against her Annie’s chest.
“The Air Marshal and TSA will be informed of your misconduct.”
“You…said,” Annie strained against her. “We are…Premium!”
“Not…First…Class,” Becky gritted.
Annie felt a large hand clamp down on her shoulder. A man’s deep voice interjected, causing the women to pause their scuffle.
“Ladies, let me resolve this quickly.”
Annie’s head swung up to see cool grey eyes looking down at her. Richard. She had nearly forgotten about him during this drama.
“Who are you?” Becky asked, still leaning into Annie’s chest.
“This is my…”
“Richard Odiberg. Row eight. Seated next to this young lady, in F,” Richard said, cutting Annie off. “It appears we have caused you an undue burden here.”
Becky looked up at Richard’s handsome face, his courteous demeanor was like a sip of warm cocoa. She eased up on her linebacker block against Annie, but not completely.
“I cannot break the rules, sir.”
“Dedication to duty. So commendable,” Richard drawled with appreciation. “But I’m afraid we do have a critical situation, here.”
Becky’s brows drew up and together, her mouth pursed in preparation to flap about FAA regulations and Air Marshals again. Richard beat her to it.
“I am well versed with FAA law and the importance of practicing appropriate execution of said law,” he told her. “This is not the time, nor place.”
The attendant released Annie to face her new challenger.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I’m not calling you a liar, or accusing you of abusing the power you have over one hundred and seventy-five people who will need to relieve themselves sometime within the duration of a long flight.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Ignorance. Or incompetence, perhaps, if that seems any better.”
“Yes, it’s true. The FAA does not authorize passengers to use the First Class lavatories on flights returning to the United States. However there is no such regulation for domestic flights.”
Slam dunk! Annie cheered silently. She wondered how Richard knew this delightful information.
The attendant sighed in resignation, folding her arms. She nodded toward the lavatory door.
“Make it fast. Regardless of the technicalities of the FAA regulation, there are specific reasons people travel First Class.”
Richard opened the door for Annie.
“Of course, but preferences are not laws, right?”
Annie was about to close the door when Richard stepped in behind her, grinning. Becky’s outraged face loomed behind him.
“You can’t do that! Who do you think you are? I will call for the Air Marshal!”
Richard pulled out his wallet and flipped it open, revealing an FBI badge and I.D.
“FBI trumps Air Marshal on any given day.”
“But you can’t…”
“I can and I am. This woman is under my protection and cannot be left alone. Now let’s avoid any additional scenes or reports of incompetence, shall we?”
He closed the door, leaving the woman gaping.
Annie laughed. “You devil.”
“You were right, that novelty shop at Universal was great,” he chuckled waving his wallet.
“But how did you know…”
“Googled it while you were, um, busy…”
“Mission accomplished, agent,” Annie grinned. “Well, almost.” She hurried unzipped her pants to relieve herself.
“I have another mission in mind…” Richard grinned.
Annie giggled. “I learned a new yoga move tonight…”