In all the business and personal flying jaunts I’ve been on, I’ve never received an upgrade to first class passenger status. I have, however, been upgraded to more leg room status once. It was pretty nice. And I was close enough to the front of the plane that I used the first class restrooms—even though I wasn’t supposed to. Fuck ‘em. If the plane goes down, so do us all, so I’ll use whatever restroom I please, thank you very much.
When someone tells you about the first class upgrade, you can’t help but be happy about it. All kinds of joking around follows: “Oooh, look at you being all special!” “Did you flash your boobs to get that seat?” “Must be nice, my friend; must be nice.” And then they dish, of course, about life beyond the aisle curtain.
You get served first. You get real food in most cases (and pretzels). Drinks. You even get your own bathroom (when gadflies like me aren’t barging in). Leg room. Butt room. Pillowy headrests. And you even get a blanket and a pillow at no charge. Headphones, too. Niiiiice. The upgrade will not protect you from mechanical failure or some other tragedy on the plane, but as long as things go well why not fly with some perks?
I may have never received a first-class upgrade, but I have received an upgrade from Stage II breast cancer to Stage IV. It was wholly unexpected. I was just sitting waiting to board my flight to Stage II Tamoxifen and here I got an upgrade!
Among the privileges I can expect with this upgrade to Club de Cancer are visits to the Oncology Suite, more trips to the pharmacy to take more drugs, radiation, and chemotherapy at some point down the road. In addition there is surgery (maybe) and visits to specialists forever. Discomfort. Malaise. Uncertainty. Fear. Anxiety. Anger. And no cure.
Clearly, not all upgrades are equal.