Monday, April 10, 2006

First Class Salute

Do you remember the TV commercial that featured a group of US soldiers returning home from Iraq? They're shown walking through an airport terminal in their desert camo uniforms…and one by one, travelers in the terminal begin a spontaneous round of applause as the men and women walk past. I don’t know if the ad won any awards, but I do remember it was a very moving, and fitting tribute, to our armed forces.

Seems like it was a commercial sponsored by a beer company, but they weren’t selling brewksies with that spot—they were selling patriotism and pride.

I’ve seen that outpouring of genuine public affection and pride replicated…and recently read a piece by Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Daily News that has shed light on another, wonderful way to show your pride and support for soldiers returning from their foreign posts.

The next time you fly First Class, and you see a soldier in coach, offer him or her your seat. Most likely, the airline attendants will approve the switch. That’s the story Polaneczky told about a friend who’s a frequent flier…always upgrading to First Class seating.

They guy had run across a soldier returning home who was afraid to fly. After all he’d been through in Iraq, no less. The soldier was looking forward to an adult beverage to calm his nerves about the flight.

As he squeezed through the First Class seats towards the back of the plane, the soldier gave the guy a thumbs up…and that’s when the light bulb went off. He asked the flight attendant to find the soldier, and swapped seats with him on the spot.

Felt so good, giving up his seat, he’s been doing it everytime he flies…sometimes shaming other First Class fliers into doing the same thing.

I think it’s a wonderful gesture.
The challenge is now out there for all of you who fly First Class—no soldiers in Coach!

What a great way to be welcomed home.

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