So, you're traveling with your 14-year old son on a busy Holiday travel day. The flights are full, but you both have been placed on the upgrade list. Suddenly, one and only one seat opens up in first class. As the adult accompanying this minor, you have to decide: Which of you will get it?
I faced that situation today, and to be perfectly honest, it was not an easy decision to make.
My son is old enough to sit in the plane on his own. By golly, he has been a seasoned traveler since he was two. He knows the drill at security, and he knows the etiquette of flying. He stopped kicking the seat in front of him a while ago.
No, the issue wasn't whether he could handle being in a cabin -- coach or first class -- alone. The issue was me. I was torn between my strong desire to sit in first class versus not being a heel of a mom to my teenage son. Selfish or selfless. There's no middle ground.
I travel quite a bit for my work, so it's extremely nice to have the rare opportunity to sit in the comfort of the upgraded seat with its premium service. The flight attendants are much kinder up there, and they still serve meals. On fine china!
I was ridden with guilt that I would even consider abandoning my child in economy while luxuriating in my cushy seat in first class, but I was still not ready to give it up too quickly.
Once Josh gets a taste of first class, he'll never go back! I don't want to spoil him for life...
His bottom is much smaller than mine. Surely he won't mind squeezing into the economy seat, would he?
Truth is, he probably wouldn't have minded, but he might also remember that his mother threw him under the bus...or, in this case, the plane. I thought of a compromise: he can sit up front for the first half of the flight, then trade places with me. But who will go first? They serve the breakfast during the first half, you know.
I desperately explained our situation to the lady at the gate, but she wouldn't budge. "We could seat you two together back in economy," she offered. We both balked at the idea. At least one of us is going to be in first class. But who?
After a few moments of soul searching, I finally decided to do what any good mother would choose to do in this situation:
I gave up the first class seat to Josh.
He seemed a bit apprehensive about sitting by himself but also grateful.
"Mom, are they going to serve breakfast?"
"Of course." I had gotten him out of bed at 5am, and he was starving by the time we were boarding. He deserved a good breakfast.
"Probably omelettes, and on fine china, Josh."
The non-budging lady at the gate did allow me to board early with Josh during premium boarding just so that I could make sure he is all settled. I introduced myself and explained the situation to the flight attendant on board, faintly hoping that she would have mercy on me and sneak me in.
"We'll take good care of him," she said. "Maybe even introduce him to a nice girl in first class," she laughed.
I smiled and turned right towards my scrawny seat in economy, only a few rows away from Josh. I had a good view of the back of my son's head.
"Thanks, mom," he mouthed while waving at me from his seat. He looked happy.
I could fly first class some other time by myself. For now, I'm going to enjoy making my soon-to-be-grown son appreciate his mother just a little.
And that's a priceless upgrade in this journey through motherhood.
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