On the Merits of Flying Coach Part 3: Maximizing First Class

See part 1 on cultivating gratitude and part 2 on traveling more.

This point is similar to part 1, but flying in coach makes flying in first class even better. By experiencing the inadequacies of coach, we are better able to appreciate the abundances of first class.

If we were to fly in business or first class all of the time, we would be susceptible to hedonic adaptation, or our tendency to revert to a set point of happiness in spite of positive or negative externalities (okay, I’m slightly misappropriating this idea for this post). Rather than being delighted by being offered champagne at all, we’ll be disappointed by not being offered the 2002 vintage of Dom Perignon if we constantly fly in premium cabins. Our expectations end up shifting higher, which leads for greater opportunity for disappointment and greater possibility of displeasure.

I experienced this myself when going to the British Airways Concorde Room immediately after spending hours in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai. While in the Emirates lounge, I soon started to become accustomed to the plentiful food options, ample uncrowded space, and ubiquitous service people ready and willing to satisfy any request. This made it so that I was pretty unimpressed by the Concorde Room once I got there, as the food options aren’t that plentiful (at least for breakfast), it’s a relatively small space, and there aren’t that many service people. But the Concorde Room is still much better than any US domestic lounge, but I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it because I had overdosed on other great premium lounges immediately prior.

Thus, flying in coach makes flying in first better because it helps us reset our expectations so that they’re consistently exceeded when flying in first. I can confidently say that I’m better able to enjoy first class after I’ve had a couple of trips in coach.

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