Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Life is short... go for the preferred seats!

Last week, I booked our flights for a visit home to my parents (which we generally do twice a year, Christmas and summertime). We've always flown economy, generally the cheapest fares we can find for the dates & time frames when we want to fly.

For the past 20 years, though, we've always paid extra to "select" (i.e., reserve) our seats. We started doing this after one memorable (for the wrong reasons...) incident at the airport where we discovered (at the gate) that the flight was overbooked and we might not make it on board -- i.e., we were essentially flying standby, even though we'd paid for our tickets months earlier and arrived well before boarding. (We did make it onto the plane, but we were NOT HAPPY to deal with the additional stress!)

These days, not only can you select your seat (for a fee), you can choose between "standard" and "preferrred" seats -- which cost double the amount of a standard seat ($34 per person, vs $17 pp -- or an additional $68 per trip/$136 per round trip for both of us, vs $34 & $68)(!!), but offer more legroom and (slightly) more space between you & the seat in front of you. (They're still not as comfortable as the seats in business class, though...!)

I mentioned to dh that we had a choice, & he immediately said, "Book the preferred seats!"

Initially, I balked.

Now, I don't consider myself "cheap" or overly frugal. Believe me, I know how to spend money on the things I really want/value, lol.  I like to eat out at least once a week, and while it doesn't have to be La Scala, I appreciate something nicer than McDonalds with a waiter serving me, lol. I buy books instead of using the library. My closet is overstuffed, and I still have enough lipsticks to keep an army of supermodels supplied for at least a year, even though I seldom wear makeup since I stopped working.  I use fairly expensive brands of skin care products (although I try to wait and then stock up while there's a gift with purchase offer on, lol).

But I get pissed off at having to pay $17 (let alone $34) for a seat that I've already paid several hundred dollars for and that used to be "free" (along with checked baggage -- now $28.25 for your first bag -- a nice meal and so many other things...!).

Growing up, I was influenced by what a friend & I have labelled "the Prairie Depression mentality." We were both born several decades after the Great Depression -- but we still found ourselves living in its shadow, because our parents &/or grandparents lived through it, and never forgot the lessons they learned then. Our families were not wealthy (although most of our peers' families were in the same boat, so there wasn't quite the same peer pressure that kids today grow up with), and we learned the value of a dollar early on in our lives.

And so, even today as an adult, things like adding a bit of water to the shampoo bottle to use up the last few drops... or using a dryer sheet twice before throwing it away... or driving a few blocks further to save a few cents on gasoline... are second nature to me. Unless it's a book I MUST HAVE NOW, I usually forgo the hardcover and wait for the paperback. I dump my change from my wallet every night, then occasionally sort & roll up the loose coins and take it to the bank. It's like found money, and you'd be amazed at how quickly it adds up (especially here in Canada, where we have $1 & $2 coins). We went for dinner on our first anniversary and bought our first microwave with money saved up this way.

My determination to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube and use up the last few drops of milk in the carton before putting it in recycling drives dh crazy sometimes. I often tell him, "You be anal in your way; I'll be anal in mine," lol. Paying attention to the pennies makes me feel better and gives me "permission" when I do splurge money on other, more important things. (Although even then, I am probably looking for or waiting for a sale or a coupon, lol.)

But as I hesitated on the subject of preferred vs standard seats, I realized he was right.  Dh is not a happy airline traveller at the best of times. If a preferred seat with extra legroom makes him happy, why not spent the extra money?

We both worked hard for 30 years, we saved our money, and we have enough to live comfortably, and to splurge -- maybe not for a villa in Tuscany or a beachside cottage in Tahiti (damn!), but certainly on things like preferred airline seats. We're old enough now that by some definitions, we are senior citizens (!!). If we're not going to start spending and enjoying some of our hard-earned money now, then when?

We didn't get the child we wanted so much -- but we CAN have some of those little luxuries that make life more fun and pleasant. So why not?

Life is short.... pay for the preferred seat!

(But I'll still pick economy vs business class, though (especially for a simple 2.5 hour flight to see my parents that already costs way too much)... gotta draw the line somewhere!! lol)


  1. Yes, pay for the preferred seats! Especially for a 2.5 hour flight! We'll pay for premium economy or even business (though only heavily discounted business or using frequent flyer points) depending on the length of the flight, ie nothing less than 5 hours, and probably not less than 7! (Seven hour flights are still "short-haul" in my book.)

    I think I blogged about my own contradictions on this issue once. I'll happily pay for some things (ie decent airline seats), but object to paying for parking, throwing out food, and yes, I also add water to the bottom of a shampoo bottle. https://aseparatelife.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/contradictory-tendencies/

    By the way, I think I'm going to steer your line - "you be anal in your way, I'll be anal in mine."

    PS. Tuscany or Tahiti are both worth it. And not as expensive as you might think. (Besides, if ... no ... when you come to NZ, you can stop over in Tahiti - or Fiji, or the Cook Islands, etc - for free.)

    1. Oh, as travel destination, Tuscany or Tahiti would be great... I was talking about buying a villa/cottage & taking up residence there, at least during the winters. ;) Somewhat more expensive. I just can't justify paying business class prices for a 2.5 hour flight, two times (round trip) a year, but yes, a little extra for a nicer reserved seat is do-able. ;) It might be worth it for a longer-haul flight, though. A girlfriend recently went to Australia & told me that if we ever go, we need to shell out or use frequent flyer points (as she did) to upgrade to business class, because it was well worth it for such a long trip.

  2. This is beautiful. Though in my case the only "luxury" I enjoy and being proud of is my capacity to help my mother financially, which my parent counterparts cannot do. They're even a burden to their own parents.

  3. We did this exact thing on our recent trip overseas. Hubs is an anxious flyer and I have crazy long legs so extra leg room is always welcome. There was a bit of drama at the gate (the airline decided to change our seats that we chose, booked, and paid for over six months in advance less than 24 hours before our flight to seats where we weren't sitting together) but I got it straightened out by politely but firmly demanding that they figure out a way to sit us together and not budging on my stance.

    And don't even get me stared on paying to check luggage on domestic flights! I've said for years that I'd feel better if they charged me an extra $30 on my ticket and told me that I got one free checked bag....

    Like Mali, I hate paying for parking. It feels a bit like selling my soul to the devil every single time.....

    I'm so much like you in so many ways. I will squeeze the last bit out of the toothpaste or put water in the shampoo or laundry detergent, but I also buy higher end makeup (what little I wear), skin care products, and workout shoes without an ounce of guilt.

  4. I've never ridden first class. Never paid for the seats or been comped by the airline. Now I wonder if it would be worth it sometime.

    1. We got upgraded to business class ONCE, 20 years ago. We were sitting in the boarding area, waiting to get on & they called our name. She asked to see our boarding passes, & started typing and I said, "Excuse me, is there a problem??" and she said, "Oh, we're going to move you up to business class." Ummm... OK!! lol I guess the flight wasn't full and they needed to balance the load or something. Nice seats, and a nice dinner too (that was when everyone got served a meal, but ours was nicer than the one in economy). Never happened since then, though. :(

  5. I love rolling coins! I'm glad you went for the preferred seats. I am terrified of flying, and so anything that makes it more pleasant is okay by me! It fills me with fury that they charge you extra for things that used to be included. I'm trying to figure out how to travel for 14 days without checking baggage... I think it may be a lost cause. I love that "You be anal in your way and I'll be anal in mine" -- brilliant.