First Class Travel-- 02/09/03

I flew to Las Vegas today and was in First Class for both legs (Providence to Chicago and Chicago to Las Vegas) of the trip.

I don't know why I ended up in first class. Once before, three years ago, I somehow ended up in Business Class -- I think it was Cleveland to Providence -- for no reason that I ever understood except that the airline just decided to put me there.

You have to understand that corporate bean counters do not want anyone to fly anything other than in the cheap seats (except, of course, for executives... and if they're really important they'll probably be in the corporate jet anyway). There are rules that allow for upgrade to Business Class, generally when the trip is more than a certain number of time zones... or a lower number of time zones if you have to do a major business presentation within 24 hours of arrival. For example, flying to London is not enough time zones, but one more time zone can qualify for Business Class; however, every time I've had to go to Vienna or Nice, I've been told that, of course, I will be flying Economy Class. When I flew to Sydney (about a twenty-four hour trip) I was told that although that did qualify for Business Class, higher level management was insisting on Economy -- given the outrageous price different between Business Class and Economy Class for that trip I accepted the decision, but then later found that my expenses were actually being paid by our Australian branch and they always flew Business Class on that route and their management couldn't understand why I hadn't.

But somehow on this trip I ended up as First Class. (When I saw that on my itinerary I called our travel agency and pointed it out as an obvious error but they said not to worry about it, the airline had done it... and, I must admit, my round trip fare for this Las Vegas trip is a couple hundred dollars less than it usually costs for round trip to Pittsburgh.)

First class is very nice.

Comfortable seating with comfortable leg room -- I could relax without the discomfort of cramped legs and without having the back of the next seat in my face. Flight attendants hang up your coats in a little closet for you, and give them back to you just before landing.... and it seems as if every few minutes they are coming by to ask if you would like another beverage of any kind. They bring hot moist towelettes for you to wipe your hands before meal service, just like on a transAtlantic flight on a European airline.

But mostly it was the comfortable seat and the extra leg room. Ahhhhh.... I got about four hours sleep last night but I actually arrived here relaxed, not tense and in pain from uncomfortable cramped seating.

Of course I get to fly back home in Economy Class on Friday. *sigh* Ah well, at least I'll be heading back home.

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