My Experience with Flying First Class
As an economy traveler extraordinaire, I can confidently say I do not spend any more than I need to on traveling to and from the many places I love to visit throughout the year. My traveling frequency has created a plethora of hard earned knowledge and an array of priceless travel memories. Whether it’s visiting Boston five times this year on a small budget, or taking a family of four to New York for $350 total travel dollars, my tendency is clearly to take economy flights so that I can increase the number of overall trips.
I’m your typical gal with the small carry on, happily walking past first class without a second thought to my Group 4, seat 38A status. This attitude took me through two decades until somewhere, seemingly out of nowhere, I thought ‘what if’… Of course this revelation took hold about the same time I got a modest raise and was planning Blogging Domination with my favorite Goal Girl Annie, the thought didn’t escape my mind and one day I pressed the upgrade button in my United App. Just like that, $99 for a First Class upgrade on a flight from Chicago to Boston was on the books. Since I’ve been a relatively frugal traveler, or at least an expert at getting what I want without spending as much as most people, I felt instant buyer’s remorse.
Who am I? I certainly am not a person that can or should throw $99 into an already purchased flight! I tried to stop the negative talk by reminding myself what a great blog article it would be, and trying something new for under $100 is usually a good thing. Plus at the very least I will get a “free” cocktail so I really only spent $90 when you count that in….??? I decided to mention the upgrade to no one and then the day arrived.
24 hours before departure I received my check in note. I clicked in and loaded my boarding pass to my Apple Wallet per usual, but this time I noticed something different. The bar code label was a beautiful blue. “Oh man, that just looks fancy” I thought to myself. I inspected it further and noticed priority was written on the top, “Oh right! I get to go through the fast security lane!” I closed my app almost as if I was hiding something and I realized how ridiculous it was. (This also made me realize how much of an imposter’s syndrome I might have when it comes to fancy things).
The morning finally came and off to the airport I went. I showed my pass to the TSA agent and proceeded through security. While it was a slow travel day overall, my line had no wait at all. I couldn’t help but think that there might be something to this First Class thing after all.
I made my way to the gate pondering what other people feel like who travel First Class all the time. Does the novelty wear off? Do people think they deserve this service? Do people have so much money it doesn’t matter? Should I find so much money that it doesn’t matter to me? What would my children be like if they were raised that way? I clearly was over thinking this experience as I made my way to the gate.
I walked up into the First Class line filled with men in business suits and looked down at my Nikes. The line continued onto the plane and I wondered if getting on the plane first would be any benefit. I don’t really like being on planes so extending the experience for an additional charge seemed very silly to me. Regardless, I continued and sat down in the very comfortable chair after placing my carry on in the empty overhead compartment. I looked at the seat next to me and thought, “Usually there are three people in this space!”
As people piled on the flight, I made sure to inspect all the amenities this new seating arrangement had to offer. New headphones, a very comfortable and ample amount of working space. A few moments later, the flight attendant asked what I would like to drink. A “free” drink before the plane even took off? That’s actually nice.
As we took off, I was actually alarmed at how quiet it was. Is the engine failing? Or am I just not on top of it and can’t hear it as well as I usually do? As the 2 hour flight continued, I was offered a small Chicken Salad or a Cheese tray. I opted for the cheese tray and was pleasantly surprised. It tasted like something I would have at home. I reluctantly admitted to myself at that moment that an experience like this would be hard to give up on the next flight. In addition, besides the already stated benefits, I actually got two straight hours of work done on the flight because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put my extra space to good use. That time alone felt like a million dollars.
You are probably thinking this is some kind of ad for upgrades, but the reality is, it’s not. The best part of this experience is that I understand why people would pay, or companies would pay for first class. The plane ride becomes a part of the journey and not just some hurdle to get where you need to be.
Overall, in the future, if my finances allow and the increased cost is somewhat small, I can definitely see situations that would lead me to pick first class again. The main reason being the productivity that was created from having the additional seating room. Have you ever tried to use a laptop in row 27? The near future will require my current economy status to resume, but I have a feeling future promotions at work will have an air of benefit upgrades like this.