I Want an Upgrade

I’m guessing that anyone who has flown, either on occasion or extensively, knows the feeling of longing that comes over them as they board the plane and walk through the first class cabin where people sit smugly sipping champagne as you wrestle your luggage and family past the curtains into steerage. “Someday,” we whisper to ourselves…..


A few years back I was flying from Chiang Mai, Thailand down to Bangkok, on the first leg of a journey back to Beijing following a teacher’s conference. I was already seated near the front of the economy section when I spotted some colleagues coming down the aisle with their 4 kids in tow. The youngest boy was bawling; you know the cry — the one that expresses deep sorrow and anguish.

When his mom saw me, she leaned over and said, “he just saw the first class seats and wants to sit there.”

“Don’t we all?” I replied.

This young guy was giving voice to how all of us felt but were unable to express because, well, adults don’t cry and throw fits when we can’t sit in first class.

Well, most adults don’t. Apparently one woman in Chengdu last week seems to have missed out on that fundamental life lesson. When the flight attendants denied her request to pay money on board to upgrade, she threw a temper tantrum; so much so that the pilot turned the taxiing plane around and headed back to the terminal.

It was met by police and the woman was escorted off. I’m guessing that she’ll be added to China’s infamous list of people banned from flying for bad behavior.