My wife and I joined in a family trip to Hawaii to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Each person booked his/her own flight and accommodations, but as it turned out eight out of ten of us were on the same non-stop flight out of Phoenix.

Yes, I did fly US Airways, even though they punish me for being a good customer (previous post). It’s called monopoly power.

My wife is lucky in that as a phenomenal freelance editor she has so many adoring clients that she’s always drowning in work (a real problem, actually…). She’s been pulling 3+ all-nighters per week for the past month just so that she can actually go on this trip. She hasn’t flown since 9/11—we’ve literally been driving cross-country to get everywhere.

We all bought tickets in fourth class (First: First Class; Second: Business; Third: Economy with extra leg room; Fourth: Economy with “normal” leg room). I fly fourth class 99% of the time, but have occasionally stumbled into better seating. However, to give my wife some respite and something to look forward to since she’s avoided flying, I decided to upgrade us to first class. Anyone who has flown internationally knows that first class on a US airline is barely equivalent to business class on other airlines, but it is remarkably better than fourth class (that still doesn’t make it good, however).

We are seated in the third row. The flight attendant comes around to take our meal order: “I’m sorry, but we’re all out of choices, we only have tortellini left but we have a lot it.” My jaw only hit the floor at her follow up: “I hope that’s okay with you (?).”

It’s the first time my wife is flying first class, and she’s not having a first-class experience. U.S. Airways has quickly become a negative brand with her. And I’m still struggling with what my answer to the above question should have been.