When I was 13, I went to Interlochen for the summer with my cello.
It was 1996 and back then you could do things like buy a plane seat for your cello for $100, to make sure it didn’t get damaged if you checked it, so we did. There was a ticket for me, and a ticket for cello//seat.
Of course, there were all kinds of ISSUES with this that we didn’t forsee - one flight attendant told me I had to stow it and refused to believe that I had a ticket, even as she was looking at it. (I ended up showing her both the cello’s ticket and mine at the same time, and she still gave me the sideeye the whole flight.)
And then when I got on the plane going home, it was overbooked, and I was in the last row because the cello had to be next to a bulkhead in case of emergency, so it would hit fewer people.
A few minutes before we took off, I was approached about stowing it, and I produced the ticket. The fight attendant thought about that for a long moment, and then asked me get my cello and follow him.
I did, and he led me to the first row of first class, where he had me strap my cello in, and then…
He escorted me back to my seat.
It was an uneventful ride, except for my extreme anxiety about having been gone for a month and what if I got to the gate and my dad wasn’t there or I didn’t recognize him?
(Children, in 1996 you could go right up to the gate to pick up or drop off a person getting on a plane.)
Well, we landed in DC, and I went to get my cello. To my surprise, the man it was next to was sitting there, and he smiled at me.
"I kept it company," he told me. So I thanked him, because what else was I going to say.
"Bought it a drink, too," he said, and now I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he leaned in. "It wasn’t thirsty."
And that, my friends, is the story of the time my cello got upgraded to first class, and I did not.