Passengers Give Troops First-Class Seats

AP – Passengers Give Troops First-Class Seats

Eight soldiers flying home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R flew in style instead of coach after first-class passengers offered to swap seats with them. “The soldiers were very, very happy, and the whole aircraft had a different feeling,” flight attendant Lorrie Gammon told The Dallas Morning News in Thursday’s editions. The June 29 seat-swap on American Airlines Flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago started before boarding, when a businessman approached one of the soldiers and traded his seat. When the swapping was done, “the other two first-class passengers wanted to give up their seats, too, but they couldn’t find any more soldiers,” Gammon said.

Another flight attendant, Candi Spradlin, said she was impressed with the acts of good will. “If nothing else, those soldiers got a great homecoming,” she said.

Very nice.

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)

Update: Dallas Morning News has more: Passengers’ good will turned soldiers’ trip home into a flight of fancy

It all began with a chance encounter at an airport, a glance, an offer, a quiet chat. What’s your seat number, soldier? It’s 23-B, sir, the soldier told the businessman. No, son, that’s my seat. Yours is in first class.

As more soldiers boarded, similar offers quickly came from the other first-class passengers.
And eight soldiers heading home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R found themselves with their officers in the big seats up front instead of the center seats in coach.
U.S soldiers fresh from Iraq were surprised but grateful for the first-class seats on Flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago.

That spontaneous act of good will transformed American Airlines Flight 866, from Atlanta to Chicago, on June 29. “The soldiers were very, very happy, and the whole aircraft had a different feeling,” said Lorrie Gammon, one of the Dallas-based flight attendants working the trip. “There were 14 seats in first class, and there were 12 soldiers there. The other two first-class passengers wanted to give up their seats, too, but they couldn’t find any more soldiers.” Flight attendant Candi Spradlin of Conway, Ark., said she was impressed with how passengers treated the soldiers. “If nothing else, those soldiers got a great homecoming,” she said. The soldiers were so surprised they barely knew what to do, said Ms. Gammon, who lives in Frisco. “They were so humble and thankful – they spent the whole flight saying thank you,” she said. “But we should have been saying thank you to them for what they’re doing for us.”

As an aside, I note that one of the 1st ID soldiers is wearing the non-subdued “Big Red 1” combat patch on his camouflage uniform. I wonder if they’ve changed the regulation now that they’ve mandated that soldiers wear a non-subdued American flag on the right shoulder?

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Just a nitpick – only b/c we have this issue often at work – it is actually against the regs to fly first class in uniform because of the perception that a service member is wasting taxpayer money – Of course I would not want to be the person who tries to enforce a reg like this.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Interesting. I wasn’t aware of the reg. I suspect it’s after my time, although taking first class was never something that occured to me.

    I suspect that, given the circumstances, the reg’ll be overlooked here.

  3. Amy says:

    “As an aside, I note that one of the 1st ID soldiers is wearing the non-subdued “Big Red 1″ combat patch on his camouflage uniform. I wonder if they’ve changed the regulation now that they’ve mandated that soldiers wear a non-subdued American flag on the right shoulder? ”

    As long as I’ve been in the Army (8 years), the right shoulder flag patch has been full color.

    And yes, the Big Red 1 wears a full color patch on their BDUs. The 4th ID recently changed theirs, too.