I truly debated if I should write about this good deed or not. I don't want it to look like I did it for anything other than what it was -- the right thing to do. But maybe, by bringing it to your attention, you might be inspired to do the same.

A few months ago, I sent a tweet from the Atlanta airport (I'm @johnnyjet) that if my upgrade went through, I would give it to one of the uniformed soldiers on my flight. There always seems to be traveling military in the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport. Unfortunately, it didn't clear but this past week I had the chance to make good on that promise.

One of the perks of being a frequent flier is that you have access to either free or low-cost upgrades. I hold elite status on three airlines all from different alliances so it gives me access to perks on over 50 airlines. United (Star Alliance) and Delta (SkyTeam) give free upgrades if space is available on most of their domestic flights. American Airlines (OneWorld) charges its members certificates to upgrade. Each electronic upgrade costs $30 and covers up to 500 miles of a segment. So to fly 2,475 miles from L.A. to New York, it requires five certificates. $150 is a great deal for a business or first class seat since most people who are paying for that seat are set back well over $1,000.

When I booked my flight from Los Angeles to Toronto, the cheapest ticket I could find was on American Airlines via Dallas for $160. The nonstop flight was twice the price. Since I only booked it a week in advance, the choice economy seats (exit row and bulkhead) were gone. So I put in my request for an upgrade hoping I would get it so I could get some work done. Each leg required three certificates so a total of six were needed.

Like the travel freak that I am, every few hours I surfed to American's website to see if any of the good seats had opened up (they usually do!) and they did. I now had my favorite coach seats on both segments: an aisle in the second exit row, which meant plenty of legroom and the seatback would fully recline (even though I rarely lean back but it's a nice option). Unfortunately, American's website ( is still not that user-friendly and I was unable to cancel my upgrade requests. The only way I could pull them would be to pick up the phone. I don't know about you, but calling the airlines, even with a special frequent flier number, is a chore -- so I decided to roll the dice.

Of course, the one time I didn't want my upgrades to go through, they cleared. There was no going back since surely the good seats were all gone. At least then I didn't have to worry about bringing food on to the plane; they always serve first class passengers food on a medium haul or longer flight.

Like a good frequent flier, I boarded the plane as soon as they allowed; one of my goals is to always get my carry-on luggage in the overhead bin directly above me. I was able to achieve that -- fist pump! The only bummer is that they were boarding this 757 plane from the front; usually they board these type of aircraft from the middle door so coach passengers don't pass through the premium cabin and give the fortunate passengers the stink eye.

I had enemy number one's seat: 1E, a bulkhead aisle. I kept warding off the eye darts by looking down as I wrote in my travel journal but I perked up when I heard the flight attendant welcome a soldier onboard. I looked up to see a uniformed soldier standing in the aisle carrying a heavy camouflage backpack. I was surprised to see military personnel in L.A. so I was a little caught off guard.

The encounter reminded me of the tweet I'd sent a few months ago about giving up my seat. Of course, I didn't want to give up my comfortable seat that came with free food and drinks but after what I had written, I couldn't in good conscience sit up front while he sat in the back. But I also didn't want to get stuck in a middle seat so as he walked by, I discreetly tried to peek at his boarding pass. But his hand had a slight twitch so I didn't get the job done. In the meantime, the devil and the angel on my shoulders were arguing about giving up the cozy seat. By the time the good guy won, the soldier was gone.

I was disappointed by my lack of action so I asked the friendly flight attendant if she would tell the soldier he'd been upgraded and to give him my seat anonymously. She was too busy serving drinks so she couldn't go down the crowded aisle. But she almost made me cry when she said, "Really? That is so nice of you, and you will make his day. He is headed to Afghanistan." She told me about the tears in his eyes when he boarded, since he had just said goodbye to his family at the gate.

As I grabbed my bag from the overhead and slowly made my way down the jam-packed aisle, I suddenly became emotional. My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking. What if that was me heading to war? What if I couldn't see my loved ones for months, years or even worse, ever again?

I spotted the soldier on his cell in 19D, an aisle seat. When I pointed to him, he immediately got up, thinking I was headed to the vacant window seat. I said, "Soldier, you've been reassigned to seat 1E." He put his phone to his side and said, "Sorry?" I looked him in the eye and said, "Thank you for serving our country." The older man seated behind caught wind and kept saying, "Are you giving him your first-class seat?" I didn't want to make a big deal of it so I pretended I didn't hear him but when he kept repeating it louder and louder, I finally nodded. "That's a beautiful thing," he said.

The soldier, you could tell, was a well-mannered 20-something. He said to me, "Sir, you paid for that seat." I said, "No, I didn't. It just cost me a few upgrade certificates." When he realized I wasn't going to take no for an answer, he stuck out his hand and looked me in the eye like I was the nicest guy in the world, when in reality I'm just one of the millions who had taken these brave men for granted.

The flight attendants made me feel like I was Gandhi -- they kept offering me free drinks. Then when another flight attendant found out that I was the guy who had given up his coveted seat, she insisted on refunding the $6 I paid for the cold turkey and cheese croissant sandwich. I actually felt bad because there was a second soldier sitting across the aisle from me and I only had one seat to give. So I secretly offered to buy him food, but the flight attendant said, "Oh no, we always give soldiers free food." Now that's commendable. On top of that, I saw one of the flight attendants during the beverage service, kneel down next to him and say, "Thank you very much for serving our country and doing what you do."

When we landed, the crew made an announcement publicly thanking the two soldiers for their service and wished them luck in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of the passengers on the plane clapped -- including the soldier seated next to me.

John E. DiScala (a.k.a. Johnny Jet) travels around 150,000 miles and visits over 20 countries each year. He and his website have been featured over 2,000 times in major publications, including USA Today, Time, Fortune, and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, FOX News Channel and PBS. Sign up via his website for his weekly travel newsletter or follow him on Twitter at @JohnnyJet.