Carol Gattis, one of my cruise buddies, and her husband Jim picked me up at my house to head to the airport for our departure on our Fabulous at 50 cruise. When we arrived at the airport, we saw a couple of people we know from the U of A community – Tené Green, an alum of the University of Arkansas School of Law and Rick Stockdell, the KUAF station manager with his wife Beth. We were so excited we could hardly stand it. We checked our luggage with the skycap who was excited with us, and it was all uneventful. We flew into Chicago and while we were on the flight we reread our excursions, our excitement building all the time. I have to say on the flight from Fayetteville to Chicago we did have Grumpy from the seven dwarfs as our flight attendant, but we ignored him because it was all good in the neighborhood.

Things picked up tremendously when we arrived in Chicago and were met by a man on the jet bridge who we came to know later was named Ron Whitaker, “Cynthia Nance?” he asked. I said, “Uh Oh.” “No,” he said, “it’s something good! Would you like to go to the blublublublublu (that’s what it sounded like, I didn’t understand it at all).” The next statement was, “I have a cart waiting.” Not knowing where we were going, but willing to go, we both said, “Yes!” and we hopped on his cart. He took us through the airport, at a pretty break neck speed frankly for the number of pedestrians, and we arrived at the Flagship Lounge. What a pleasant space it was. A woman checked us in for our flight and explained that there was a complimentary full bar, including champagne, light lunch, a quiet area, free computer room and access, and lounge rooms and reading material with a sauna bathroom. Ahhhhh . . . so that was where we waited for the 4½ hours for our flight from O’Hare to Heathrow.

The flight itself was fantastic. We had been able to upgrade to business class where we felt quite pampered. The flight attendants learned we were headed to the Fabulous at 50 cruise and had a lot of fun teasing us in terms of being the party row, which I have to say we really were. Each seat in business class was like a private vehicle with a control panel that did everything from operating the private TV screen to the phone and then moving the seat every which way you could imagine. We received a little travel bag with footies, an eye mask, toothbrush, comb and some other stuff I can’t remember. We also were given Bose noise reduction headphones for our listening and quiet pleasure. It was pretty awesome!

The food was outstanding. We each had a filet mignon served with risotto and mushrooms. The flight was late departing due to turbulence, but the pilot was able to make up time in the air. Breakfast was a cheese omelet with potatoes, sausage, juice and coffee. And though it felt like a guilty pleasure, but I was able to read Vibe magazine from cover to cover, along with the New York Times.

Heathrow airport was pretty crazy. We had to walk up, down, around, under, over and across to get to the next gate and then hop on a bus. It was noisy and busy and after wearing the Bose speakers that had been provided in business class, we felt a little bit of a noise overload. We walked around and took a few pictures in Heathrow. Our departure from Heathrow to Barcelona was late because departed from a makeshift area where we had to wait for people to exit from an different international flight before we could use the same area to board our flight. Once we were underway, we had a 2 hour flight to Barcelona during which we were served an unusual looking– and tasting– ham and cheese sandwich for a snack.