Maybe it is chutzpah but here goes. I am writing after arriving in NYC on United 961 from Brussels. Traveled in First Class. Over the last few years, thanks to FT, MP and a number of bloggers, my wife and I have had the pleasure of traveling First Class on British Airways, Air France, Swiss, Lufhansa and now United - all for nothing except fees. Yes, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to experience lifestyles of the rich and famous! So why write today? I write out of sadness and concern. I know how long it took the automobile industry in this country to understand the consumer and get their act together. In the attitude of most airline employees of American carriers, I see the same issues. While there were a few people upgraded to First at the last minute, we were the only ones booked into First. We boarded First and there was a Purser filling out some forms. Unlike every single other First Class experience, she never even looked at us, much less welcoming us. I took off my sports jacket and had my and my wife’s coats and stood there waiting for her to look my way. Her only comment was “what seat are you in?” Remember, we were the only ones booked into First and yet she could not figure this out. The attitude did not change over the 7 hours and 53 minutes the flight took. She was “professional” but I never saw anything approaching a smile during the entire flight. It was the new First. The hard product was great - very comfortable for both sitting and napping. Really, we’ve experienced new First Classes in BA, Air France and Swiss and this was in the same cateogry. Hard to imagine how much it costs to upgrade a fleet like this and that makes it even worse. A smile is free. Acting as though you care about the customer is free. Making believe it is a pleasure to serve is free. The contrast to the experience on Lufthansa just one week ago was striking. Funny thing is the food on Lufthansa was nothing special (pretty much like United) though the liquor and wine was of a much, much higher level - Blue Label anyone?! But the staff could not have been more welcoming and gracious. People say that US airline employees have suffered nothing but payroll cuts and you can’t expect them to be happy. And face it, I’m one of those guys who flies long distance First and Business for free so most of the time I’ll go with whomever I can get a seat with! But if ever have a choice between a US and foreign carrier on similar routes, it would be hard not to go with the latter. I’m grateful to United for flying me First Class across the Atlantic for free - I only wish I had a better feeling about what the future holds for them and, by extension, for us.