On Tuesday I flew out to Denver for a work event. When I checked in at the airport I was prompted with the normal “Would you like to upgrade?” question that I normally ignore. This time, I decide to actually upgrade my ~4 hour flight from Charlotte to Denver, and it was an interesting experience. The reasons/justifications/excuses that lead me to this decision are many:
- My other seat assignment was a middle seat
- I’ve had a pretty good couple months of work and had the money
- It was only ~$125
- It’s my birth month and I wanted to treat myself
- I kind of lack self-control
Riding up front for the first time* was a bit of a culture shock. I was unaware that drinks and food were free in the beginning and was a little cautious to partake. I also was surprised that a lot of the “rules” didn’t seem to apply, particularly when it came to stowing laptops. Apparently, if you pay enough you don’t need to stow your laptops during take-off or landing and nobody was really checking for airplane mode on cell phones and such (the lady next to me was texting until she lost signal at some point due to altitude). All this makes me wonder… are these regulations in place actually necessary for safety? If so, why would an airline risk death, lawsuits, etc. just to keep a few wealthy people happy for a few extra minutes? Is there something about stowing laptops in Couch that actually does increase safety but doesn’t apply to the front of the plane? It was all kind of confusing.
At the end of the day, I felt more comfortable on my return flights back in the rear of the plane with the plebs. Well, I wasn’t “comfortable” but I felt like I belonged, and the temptation was WAY less. I don’t know the exact reason, but I have a lot of trouble saying no to free food or drinks. I think part of it was growing up kind of poor, the idea of letting food go to waste or not fully taking advantage of the opportunities that I paid for felt blasphemous. I didn’t grow up in a family where we worried about our next meal, there was always food, but I think the psychological issues that come from growing up in that environment still manifests itself in that way. Add that to my tendency to turn to food when I’m bored or in a situation that I can’t control and it is a recipe for me gorging on food and drink, and feeling a bit of hostility towards the woman next to me who was so financially/socially comfortable that she could say no to one more drink or a dish of mixed nuts.
So, where does that leave me now? I don’t know really. It gave me some insight into my own psyche (thanks, in part, to reading “The Power of Habit” on the plane). I certainly don’t feel an urge or need to return to First Class, but I can see splurging for a ticket for special occasions like a honeymoon or something with my partner. I do feel like I got some insight into the world of the “other”, the wealthy. Planes are one of those rare places where nearly all social classes exist in a confined space and you can visibly see one group being treated significantly better than another. It isn’t just the larger seats or legroom, it is the whole demeanoir of the staff who wanted to treat us as clients instead of cattle.
Oh, and seriously, what the hell was I supposed to do with that warm cloth? I decided to wash my balls in my seat, but I don’t think that was right….
*I was actually in First Class for a flight from Cameroon to Switzerland when I was in college but I was exhausted and feel asleep after they handed me a glass of champagne. I didn’t really experience it.