First class across the Atlantic…to step back in time


Aaron Weatherford

Students traveled around the globe this spring break. A group of students from Missouri Southern spent time in Paris. During  the visit, students also went to Normandy to visit historic Omaha Beach and a memorial.

My last travel piece found Ian and I in the windy city of Chicago. Since then, we’ve traveled to three countries on a whirlwind spring break trip.

Originally, we were going to take advantage of my flight benefits to revisit Paris during spring break. We had been there last year with a group from Southern who attended the International Media Seminar. We were going to meet up with this year’s group, but we added a two-day excursion to London as well. But let’s start at the beginning.

As we were waiting for our flight in Dallas, I checked my app and discovered we had been assigned our seats on the flight to Paris—first class seats. While I would never pay the full fare for first class tickets (it’ll run about $6,500 round trip), for what we paid, it was well worth it.

When you fly anywhere, it’s like being stuck in a small box for an endless amount of time. 

But with the spaciousness of first class on a Boeing 777 aircraft, you have more than ample room. 

When we were still on the ground in Dallas, Ian remarked, “This is crazy!” 

From lie-flat seats, pajamas, free cocktails to real dishes for dinner? We enjoyed every minute.

But the highlight of our trip was the visit to Normandy. 

The historical significance of Normandy, as well as the reality of the situation, struck us as we walked through the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Seeing the markers of 9,387 soldiers who died at Normandy hit me like a ton of bricks. I already felt emotional after walking to the water at Omaha Beach, but to be at the cemetery, which overlooks the beach, brought all the emotion back again. 

I am confident I speak for the five of us who went to Normandy that we were all moved by the experience. 

The next few days we saw more of Paris, although I think O’Brien’s Irish Pub on Saint Dominique was a favorite of most of us.

While the rest of the Southern group stayed until Sunday, Ian and I began our journey home in the wee hours of Friday morning. We got picked up at the hotel about 4 a.m. to go to Orly International in southern Paris. See, the downside of flying standby is that flights fill up and you have to find an alternate route. So, we flew to, Spain for a flight to Dallas.

If you ever go to Madrid, prepare yourself for a “cluster” getting from one place to the other. It’s an oddly laid out airport, and by the time we got where we needed to be, there was a 15-minute bus ride, crazy security lines and a 15-minute train ride.

We got first class on the plane coming back home; most everyone was boarded; heck, we even had our pajamas and drinks. And then a passenger died—yes, died on the plane.

Due to the three-hour delay, we wound up having to fly to Tulsa, and only because of my awesome friend Danica did we make it back to Webb City in just enough time for me to go to work at 4 a.m. Saturday morning.