So, I feel guilty.
I really do.
Today I did something for the first time and I really liked it, and I know I shouldn’t have.
I was flying out of Memphis headed back to Waco via DFW on the always trusty American Airlines. My flight was AA1025 which boarded at 10:20 and left at 10:50. Yeah, figure that one out.
When I travel for Truett, I carry my backpack on and my Truett gear bag. I always check the standup and my clothes bag. With today’s airline culture, it costs me an extra $50 to check my 2 bags. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to accept it.
I went to the counter, handed my ID to the agent and told her I needed to check 2 bags. As I was trying to get things ready, she told me a secret. One that I hadn’t heard before.
Now I’ve been tweeting and facebooking the advantages of dressing nice, smiling, and being friendly and polite to the agents when traveling, who have rewarded me with exit row aisle seats multiple times.
But this lady went one further.
She pointed to the computerized check-in in front of the counter and told me, “Sir, if you use this to check-in instead of here, it will offer you an upgrade to First Class for only $45. It will also let you check 2 bags for free.”
Now what she said at first didn’t register, but as I thought about it, it began to click.
I can either keep my seat in coach and pay $50 to check my bags, or I can upgrade to First Class for $45 (five bucks less!) and fly First Class for the first time ever.
Let me think about that.
I took the deal behind computer number 1. I plunged in and upgraded to First Class and saved $5.
I was giddy with what had just happened. I don’t even think my feet touched the floor through security.
I went and found my gate and sat down to reflect on what was about to happen. For the 1st time, I was about to be the first person to board a plane.
When they called for “First class passengers” that would include me.
I couldn’t wait to get on and see what it was like.
I boarded with 1st class, and then found my seat in 6F–the last window seat on the left as you get on the jet.
As I sat down, I saw things differently. The lady attendant came and offered me something to drink before everyone else had even boarded.
The male attendant asked if he could hang up my coat for me.
So this is what this is like, I thought.
And then I saw something that I didn’t want to–the other passengers began to board.
I found myself trying not to make eye contact, so as not to make them jealous of me riding in style, while they were cramming into seats barely big enough for them to sit down.
They were my people, after all. I didn’t belong up here; I belonged in the back with them, looking with disgust at someone who would pay extra to fly for an hour and four glorious minutes from Memphis to Dallas.
I then watched the male attendant ask the man in front of me if he could hang his coat up. He stood in the middle of the aisle, waiting on the man to take his coat off, while an African-American couple had entered and had to wait on this guy to hang up this other passenger’s coats. The attendant barely even looked at them, much less make a move to step back so they could pass through to their seats.
About halfway through the flight, the lady attendant came and handed me a packed labeled, “Premium Snacks,” and then brought me a coke in a real glass–not paper!
There was a magazine in the seat pocket by American only for first class, called the Premium magazine. This month’s issue was the “food and wine” issue.
And the roomy, comfy seat! Only my big green recliner at home has any more comfort, and it’s only because I’ve formed my rear to it over the past 6 years.
And yet, I still felt guilty. It was a great experience–and I saved $5!—but it felt so wrong.
What do you think? What would you have done? Would you feel guilty?