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First-class fliers donate seats to U.S. soldiers

WASHINGTON—A group of American soldiers returning from Iraq got ticket upgrades on an American Airlines flight last month, but not from the airline.

A first-class passenger on American Airlines flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago on June 29 started a "domino effect" in first class when he decided to give up his seat to a soldier, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Jacquie Young.

The man, whom the airline declined to identify, noticed the group of soldiers in the boarding area. As he boarded the plane, he asked the flight attendant if he could give up his first-class seat to one of them. The flight attendant shrugged him off and went about boarding passengers, Young said.

When the first soldier boarded the plane, the man asked, "Hey, soldier, where are you sitting?" said Young. When the soldier replied that he was sitting in seat 22E, the first-class passenger said, "No, you're sitting here," and he gave him his seat.

As the other soldiers boarded the plane, other first-class passengers surrendered their seats until soldiers filled 12 of the MD-80's 16 first-class seats.

"We actually ran out of soldiers," Young said.


(c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): SOLDIERS-FIRSTCLASS


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