A First-Class View of the World

I just came back last night from the AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference in Vegas (CPAs who also do financial planning – I am editor for their newsletter) and had the pleasure of sitting in First Class, thanks to my good friend Catherine who had first-class upgrades to use before they expired at the end of February.

It had been quite a long time since I’d been at the front of the plane. Years ago when I served on IABC’s Executive Committee, I hit the Platinum level and was regularly upgraded. Now, because I fly Southwest just about as often as American, I am not even a lowly Gold member. Alas … there are more important things in life than status levels.

One other quick story. Back when I was Platinum, I upgraded me and my son one summer when we took a trip. He was about 7 or 8, I think, and it wasn’t his first time to fly. However, we got in first class and he promptly reached up to adjust the air vent. In a very innocent voice, he said, “They don’t have these back in coach, do they?” I’ve told that story countless times when I teach writing because I think it has something to do with expectations versus reality. Oh well … I still laugh at that story and I know he does, too.

OK – one more story. When I was young and got to fly a few times with my parents, my dad would always tell me, “They are dancing up in first class to the music of Lawrence Welk.” And, of course, I believed him.

So, back to my story. What a treat it was to have a first-class view of the world, especially since I was very tired from my trip. Here are the pluses and the minuses:

Pluses of first-class:

  • Wider seats – you could almost fit 2 people in my seat.
  • More legroom – I got to stretch out.
  • Almost the first one off the plane – now that I like!
  • A flight attendant who introduced herself to me and called me by my last name. She even pronounced it right.
  • A warm, wet washcloth for my hands – I also used it on my face.
  • Food – I had a choice between a buffalo chicken salad or a smart serving of tilapia fish tacos. I chose the salad. In fact, I took a soft-sounding survey of everyone in first class and the majority of us had the salad.
  • Warm Nuts – I passed on this. Although I was tempted, I remembered how high in fat nuts really are.
  • A warm cookie for dessert – I passed on this as well, but I was picturing an Easy-Bake Oven in the galley.
  • Quick access to the bathroom – Yes, I drink a ton of water and of course had to check out the bells & whistles in the lavatory.
  • All the alcohol I could drink – I had none. Hey – it was mid-afternoon! I had club soda with lime.

Minuses or Drawbacks:

  • Oh wait … there were no drawbacks other than my rowmate had a used copy of People magazine in his seat-back pocket and I didn’t have anything but the American magazine. While he read his copy, I glanced at each page and just knew he never noticed me trying to look at it.

This was a great experience! So, American Airlines (@AmericanAir) – why can’t you give the poor people in coach the same kind of experience you give in first class? I know it costs more money and I know that you now have planes with more legroom, albeit at an increased fee, but why can’t you bring back this kind of service throughout the plane?

In the meantime, I’ll always have my memories and a great view of the Grand Canyon.

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