Would You Give Up Your First Class Seat for Free?

My mileage run yesterday had me on a US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, which is about a 5 hour flight. I have status on US Airways so I was upgraded to First Class, where I was seated next to an elderly man.

Half the flight passed without us saying a word to each other, but then we started to chat a little bit. He was a very sweet, old man of 85 years. He shared all kinds of stories with me, including how he got drafted in World War II and went to the Philippines and Japan, how he’d run several businesses, how he used to go on long road trips in his reliable Buick back when gas wasn’t expensive, and how he hadn’t flown in 18 years and was only flying to see his sister, who was dying of cancer. We chatted for a good two hours about so many topics I can’t even remember them all.

Near the end of our conversation he mentioned how great of a deal he got on his flight: just $328 round-trip from Los Angeles to Connecticut. He then mentioned that he would have been sitting all the way in the back of the plane if it weren’t for a nice, young lady who traded seats with him just before the flight, after she found out the airline had forgotten his wheelchair.

I was more than a little surprised to hear that someone gave up their First Class seat on a cross-country flight at 6:30am, but it absolutely warms my heart to hear that happen. The elderly already have a difficult time, and this man was likely not in the highest spirits considering the nature of his trip. It’s great to hear that people still care about others enough to sacrifice something for others’ benefit.

I mentioned this story to a close friend and she said she would have done the same thing in a heartbeat. It got me thinking…would I have given up my seat? I’m 60 years younger than this gentleman and clearly would not have benefited nearly as much as this man would have from the First Class flight. I honestly don’t know if I would have given up my seat, but I’d say it depends on the conversation that happened before the flight. If I knew as much about this man before the flight as I learned on the flight, I’d like to think I would. I’m just not sure, though, and that makes me want to reflect a little bit to put things back into perspective in my life.

What about you? Would you give up your First Class seat? Am I a monster for even wondering what I’d do?


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