Jan. 11, 2010 – Late Jan. 10, I packed by bags for the long journey home. We planned to leave for the airport by 8:45 a.m. the next morning. Our time in Moscow passed more quickly than expected; full days made time fly. My bags were stuffed with dirty clothes and souvenirs; my heart was filled with joy and memories.

During our entire time in Russia, Muscovites were enjoying their New Year’s and Christmas holidays. All the business men, office workers, teachers, professors and government workers were returning to their jobs on Jan. 11. The streets and freeways were jammed with to the airport as quickly a possible – for a few moments we thought we might not get there quickly enough.

Finally there, our group experienced multiple levels of security – including a full body scan (back-scatter x-ray) and a pat down. Get ready … the full body scan is coming to an airport near you sooner or later. At the check-in counter I received good news – Delta had given me a free upgrade. I would be flying Business Elite/First Class from Moscow to New York. The words were music to my ears. I would have a comfortable seat, leg room and the opportunity to sleep. I didn’t even think about the opportunity of eating better food.

Soon we were on the plane. Sitting next to me was Ms. Lucy – the wonderful 73 year-old woman on our team. She had received a free upgrade as well. Lucy deserved it. She didn’t just keep up with the group; she set the pace.

A collection of accoutrements greeted me at my big, leather seat. There was a feather pillow, a real blanket and a bag containing lotions, dental products, lip balm, socks, ear plugs, etc. Soon we were taxiing down the runway perusing a fancy lunch menu and reading The Moscow Times. Then the crew brought us warm towels.

Lunch was three courses. First they brought a tray with grilled shrimp, salad and soup. It was great. For the entre, I ordered a steak. It was very good. The third course was a choice between a fruit and cheese plate or an ice cream sundae. I chose option three – sleep.

I slept a bit, but not was much as you would think. I was too excited to be in First Class and there was too much to do. My seat’s personal entertainment center had a number of albums I wanted to hear. It also had about 15 movies to choose from, but nothing I was really interested in seeing. During the 9 ½ hour flight I slept about two or three hours.

The seat was comfy, the music was enjoyable and even though I didn’t sleep a lot, it was a good flight (as far as day-long flights go).

We had a short layover in New York and unfortunately my interloping was over. One moment I was living like a Tsar; the next I had returned to serfdom. From New York to Atlanta and Atlanta to New Orleans, I was back in Economy where I belong.

It was after 11:30 p.m. by the time I got to my house. I got out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time – I had been traveling at least 25 hours. Ahhhh! Nothing fits like your own bed.

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