First Class

One fun thing about last week’s trip was that I got to sit in first class on the way to LA. I have a ton of frequent flier miles that I haven’t used and don’t have plans for (since I mostly fly on business, and that means it’s a tax deduction, so I want to be spending the money), so I thought I might as well use them to upgrade. But when I called about that, they said there weren’t any upgrades available. They put me on a waiting list, and that was the last I heard. Then when I got the “your flight is ready for check in” e-mail, I noticed that my seat assignment was different, and it was first class.

It was nice, but I’m not sure it’s really worth the cost difference if you’re actually paying for the ticket. You get to board early before there’s a huge crush of people, and they serve you drinks while everyone else is boarding. The seats are a bit wider and there’s more leg room — and I had the bulkhead seat in the front row, so there was even more room. There was actual food instead of a little bag of pretzels. Your bag gets tagged as priority and supposedly comes out first (which did happen in LA, but I noticed on the return flight that it didn’t seem to make any difference). And you don’t get charged extra for the bag.

I did enjoy the extra room. I’m small, so I fit fairly well into regular airplane seats, but on the return trip when I didn’t get the upgrade, I spent most of the flight with the elbow of the woman next to me in my ribs. I think the thing I enjoyed most was the food. It was a flight that spanned lunchtime, and because of the time difference, it would end up being much later to my body by dinnertime. Normally, I’d have snacked on things I brought (peanut butter crackers, a clementine, some nuts), but I got a hot meal, and then later they brought around fresh-baked cookies. There was enough food to work as lunch and hold me over to a fairly late dinner.

If I’m ever rich, first-class travel may be one way I indulge myself because it does seem to make me feel less stressed and tired upon arrival. It’s nice having my personal space bubble intact on an airplane. In the meantime, I have to hope the upgrades come through. I wonder how many people traveling in first class actually bought first-class tickets and how many are upgraded.

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