I never want to fly coach again, and here’s why that upsets me

Oct 25, 2021

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I’ve had a really good streak of flying this year.

There was the trip to Las Vegas when, moments before the aircraft door closed, the gate agent at New York-JFK walked back to coach and informed me that the one empty lie-flat bed up front was now mine.

Trust me, I took that amazing luck and carried it across the country with me to the blackjack tables.

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Man sitting in first-class on an airplane
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Then there was a trip from New York to Miami where I chose American’s 777-200. My ticket was $116 plus tax. But because of my Executive Platinum status, I was up front both ways in a bed.

On other trips, I’ve found premium seats selling for just marginally more than economy — the type of no-brainer, incremental difference that was rarely seen before the pandemic.

I’ve also used my stash of airline miles or my Delta Air Lines regional upgrade certificates to fly in style, especially on trips to California.

Comfortable Delta Air Lines seat
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Since I got vaccinated and resumed flying again at the end of May, I’ve done so comfortably. Very comfortably.

Now, before you hate me for what sounds like the most pretentious brag ever, let me explain why this is actually upsetting: Sometimes, I worry I’ve lost sight of the reason why I travel.

Sure, a fancy seat is nice (and sometimes amazing) but we are often traveling to see new places, to reconnect with old friends and to visit with family.

It was just a few months ago that, locked away at home, I would have taken a 16-hour flight to Asia in a middle economy seat just for the opportunity to fly again.

But these days, I’ve fallen all too quickly into the habit of checking where I stand on the upgrade list.

Related: Here’s how to use airline miles for a first-class upgrade

TPG’s mission is to empower readers to travel cheaper and easier.

Sometimes, that means teaching you how to snag Lufthansa first-class award tickets and a coveted visit to the exclusive First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. For so many people, however, they’re just happy to learn how to get four free seats anywhere on the plane so they can bring their family to Walt Disney World.

Basically, we all love to travel, even if we do it a little differently.

During those long days of lockdown and isolation, many of us promised to be more thankful for our opportunities. I was so giddy the first time I stepped back on a plane in May, I didn’t even care that my upgrade didn’t clear on either leg.

Sure, the journey can (or should be) be fun, but I was surprised at just how quickly I lost sight of the real reason why we all travel.

My 6-year-old daughter is hopefully going to get the COVID-19 vaccine soon. That’s going to reopen new adventures for my family. After a nearly two-year-long pause, we can start making new travel memories together again.

Father with baby on aircraft
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

In writing this, I was reminded of my first-ever flight in the 1980s, flying from Newark, New Jersey, to Florida on Eastern Airlines. I had a window seat. It was in coach. It was probably in the non-smoking section — yes, there was a smoking section on planes back then.

A little boy on his first flight
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Little girl watching airplane arrive at gate
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

I look back fondly at the joy I had then and the joy that my daughter has today when flying. Yes, upgrades are nice. But let’s not forget how lucky we all are to embark on new adventures, no matter where we’re sitting.

Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

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