Answer by Daniel Valenti:

I have done this by accident. Seriously. And I didn't get in trouble.

When I was in college, I went to meet some friends for Mardi Gras. My ticket had me flying from Boston to Dallas, and then on to New Orleans. The second plane was a little puddle-jumper.

The morning air was crisp on the jet bridge as I boarded my plane at Logan. I reached into my pocket and glanced at my crumpled up boarding pass. 2a. "Huh," I thought groggily, "They must have upgraded me." It had only happened twice before, but I was flying between my home state of New Mexico and my dorm room in Boston quite a bit, so I earned basic gold status on American.

When I walked onto the plane, every seat in first class was occupied except for one. 2a.

So I threw my Jansport in the overhead and plopped down. The guy next to me had a peppered beard and two empty shooters on his tray next to his glass. Huh. Maybe he's going to Mardi Gras too? We struck up a conversation and he motioned for the flight attendant to pour me a drink.

After we leveled off, the flight attendant started taking breakfast orders with her clipboard in hand. I almost didn't notice because my seatmate and I were now having some deep discussion about life and love. The kind you only have with people you know you'll never see again.

As she she came up to us, she looked at him and said, "Mr. Erickson, the eggs or the oatmeal?" Then she looked at me, and her smile dropped. She looked down at her clip board and then back at me. "Mr. ….?" "Valenti," I blurted, waiting for her to find my name. Now she started to look frantic. "May I see your boarding pass?"

"Sure!" And right as I was handing it over, it all came together. I looked at the wrong one. I was in 2a for my little puddle jumper from Dallas to New Orleans, a flight with no first class. I was supposed to be back in 12c. I knew she wouldn't believe me. I fumbled through an explanation and showed her both boarding passes.

She started to look back. Beyond the curtain. My new man friend piped up and said, "You're not going to make him walk back there, are you?" She paused. And glared. And paused some more. Then she looked at me and said, "Eggs or oatmeal?"

If I am last to board the aircraft, can I take a business class seat that is empty?


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