Noblesse Oblige

Look Miserable or Military on a Plane? A Celebrity Might Have a First-Class Seat for You


Twitter (TWTR) has become the ultimate shortcut for celebrity salvation: Give your first-class airplane seat to a member of the military or a harried parent and then watch how the social-media masses pronounce you a saint.

Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler offered her seat up front to a frazzled mom juggling a baby and luggage before a May flight from Los Angeles to New York, according to many, many media reports. Poehler later confirmed the story but was relatively quiet about the seat switch. She has 49,000 Twitter followers and doesn’t appear to use the service. Her random act of kindness became public knowledge when Star Magazine reported the seat swap.

Amy Adams, the five-time Oscar nominee, made a similarly selfless gesture to a U.S. soldier last month on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. “I didn’t do it for attention for myself,” said Adams, whose father was in the military. “I did it for attention for the troops.” Not that sitting next to an ESPN (DIS) reporter who loves Twitter didn’t ensure that the story would circulate far and wide. Her new seat mate in steerage, Ernest Owens, also posted a photo of Adams.

“Hollywood stars have always been connected to displays of patriotism, entertaining troops and the like,” Drexel University history Professor Robert Zaller wrote after the incident, noting that our collective, reflexive support of the troops seems to wither when it comes to funding their medical and educational needs back home. “If Amy Adams were to fly out to Afghanistan, it would no doubt be appreciated. And if she were to fly coach all the way, that would really be something.”

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams took the first-class seat giveaway to a new level this week, posting a photo of his Delta (DAL) ticket stub for the front row and a Marine in dress blues who was the lucky recipient of the largesse. “I always give up my seat to military,” he noted, “if my seat is better!” Since the NLF star’s seat is presumably better on most flights, he must swap seats quite often. Still, there’s some chance that the full-dress Marine may have been an impostor, according to the Washington Post.

Let’s hope the random acts of first-class-seating kindness continue—privately, of course, without public-relations intentions.

Bachman is an associate editor for Businessweek.com.

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Companies Mentioned

  • TWTR
    (Twitter Inc)
    • $53.0 USD
    • 2.12
    • 4.0%
  • DIS
    (Walt Disney Co/The)
    • $90.49 USD
    • 0.15
    • 0.17%
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