I fly back to L.A. tomorrow, first class again, but it turns out it's not free. It's about thirty five dollars per 500 mile upgrade, and it costs 1,500 miles, so it costs one hundred and five dollars for the upgrade. I would cancel it now and happily fly coach, but because they don't tell you that you've been approved for the upgrade until the night before your flight, there are no seats left in coach, or any other flights tomorrow for that matter, so it's either pay the $105, fly first class, or don't fly at all. However, the friendly American Airline agent informed me that the ticket price for my seat is normally $1,445, whereas I'm only paying a total of $280, so I really can't complain. I think I'll drink a mimosa just to get my money's worth.
To delve deeper into the American Airlines advantage program, there's a difference between frequent flyer miles and what they call your 500 Mile Upgrade Account Balance. You get the second thing only after you fly 10,000 miles on top of the 20,000 elite miles you fly in a year. Confused yet?
I'm not a diva. But I flew around the world twice in the last two years, I flew in prop-planes, I took third class trains in India and I rode through hundreds of miles of barely existent dirt roads in Kenya in a van with blown out shocks. I'll take first class when I can get it.
On the other hand, I spent way beyond my means last month and I really should save my money. But I am also one of those rare people who just LOOOVES airline food. I mean, they gave me HOT assorted nuts last flight, they WARMED UP MY CASHEWS! Now I've talked myself into it, I can't wait to get my hot cloth, such luxury.