It's been 23 years since I flew the All-First-Class MGM Grand Air, and I figured it's about time I write a trip report on it.
The year was 1987 and Kirk Kerkorian had just started MGM Grand Air.
He gutted three 727s and created an all First Class cabin with 33 seats: Huge swiveling barcaloungers, two-passenger love seats and several private compartments.
There was a chef with full open kitchen, luxurious sit down bar, and opulent bathrooms with gold-plated wash basins and faucets. Plus, the six flight attendants all wore tuxedos. Pure decadence.
Did I mention that the only route was between LAX and JFK? The target market was movie stars and entertainment moguls. They were charging about $2,000 R/T, which was the same as what AA charged for this route.
For those who can't wait to see what this baby looked like, here's a link to a YouTube news report video: THE MGM GRAND EXPERIENCE
Okay, on to the flight...
MGM Grand Air had a private terminal at LAX, so the rich and famous didn't have to breath the same air as the great unwashed masses.
The following may seem unbelievable, but I can assure you that everything really happened as I describe it.
I was sitting in the lounge waiting for boarding.
At first I had no idea that the legs I was staring at belonged to Cheryl Tiegs. They went on and on forever. Towering gams that were as mesmerizing as a pair of metronomes syncopating together in harmony.
Then I saw her hair, the porcelain skin, angular jaw. And then... the dog carrier.
As my senses slowly returned to me, I could hear the "YIP, YIP YIP" of her little rat-like dog.
She sat down across from me and began thumbing through a magazine - this was before the age of cellphones and laptops.
I saw the manager beckoning me over to him. Cheryl's rabid little mutt gave me the evil eye as I sauntered past.
"See that guy over there?" the MGM manager said to me conspiratorially, trying to be inconspicuous as he nodded his head in the direction of a gargantuan man flanked by a couple of "Italian Gentlemen" straight out of central casting.
"He's the head guy in New York," the manager said and pressed his finger against his nose as if portraying a mobster. "Flies out here every few weeks to see an actress he's sweet on."
He never told me the man's name, and I didn't ask.
Just then, all heads in the lounge turned at once as if controlled by marionette strings.
It was Bob. Trying to be inconspicuous. Ripped jeans. Tattered T-shirt.
Even Cheryl turned and gave DeNiro an approving nod.
Things were starting to get interesting.
It was time to board. The lounge door opened and we all walked out onto the tarmac and towards the freshly-painted 727.
I settled into my barcalounger in the first row on the right side. Seven seconds later a stunning blond FA in a tux appeared and started pouring me a glass of champagne.
She was completely blocking my view of Cheryl walking past with her mongrel.
I wanted to shove her aside. The FA, not Cheryl.
Bob walked past a few moments later.
Then, right before the door was about to close, some scrawny little guy strutted onboard with two gorgeous women - one on each arm.
I asked the FA who it was.
"You don't know who Chuck Barris is?" she asked incredulously.
I feigned recognition.
"He's got a private compartment," she said with a wink.
Only now, after decades of tell-all books, do I finally understand that ol' Chucky was really an unlikely CIA operative, and our government had paid for his flight that night.
Later, out of curiosity, I walked past his cabin to the rear bathroom and saw some "questionable activities" through the curtain.
I refrain from elaborating further.
Anyway, the flight was incredible. A seven-course gourmet dinner. Amazing Pâté de foie gras. Great Champagne. The food and service were incomparable.
I sat at the bar for a while and met the Chairman of one of the largest record companies in the world.
Bob was fast asleep. Cheryl and her dog had not yet met Rod Stryker. Life was good.
Unfortunately, that's more than I can say for the airline.
At one point Kirk was planning to buy a 747 and install a Jacuzzi and health spa for the new incarnation of MGM Grand Air.
They went belly-up after a few years.
I flew them a half-dozen times between LAX and JFK.
Nothing has compared since....