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One of my favorite comedy bits is when John Cleese tries to upgrade from coach to first class. I’ve always been a fan of Monty Python and the humor he brought to our lives. John Cleese didn’t take it for granted so he decided to put this on his blog for everyone to enjoy. It is a great way to get a good laugh.

How to look like an idiot when trying to switch to CP

Gary Leff 28. April 2021

One Mile at a Time draws attention to the promotion of Travel & Leisure to dress up to look like someone the airlines want to transport in class. The article makes this claim, which is clearly false,

The most important aspect of an upgrade is that it is appropriate. Smart, but discreet. You look like you travel a lot. But you don’t have to break the bank for designer clothes. It helps; someone who may be due for a promotion may be thrown back if they are dressed inappropriately.

How do you dress to increase your chances of being upgraded to first class? https://t.co/5QTuXiwypv

– Travel + Leisure (@TravelLeisure) April 27, 2021

In a way, it reminds me of that stupid Bloomberg article about getting a higher ranking every time. Both articles are excellent examples of the kind of travel literature that claims you can get first-class seats by pretending it’s your honeymoon.

The Bloomberg article says that two magic words like a shibboleth or password work to make a perfect upgrade. Those words are revenue management, and when you say them, you sound like someone who knows what they’re talking about, who should be in first grade or something. That’s how magic words are supposed to work,

We never bought first class seats; when we flew somewhere, we used miles to upgrade from economy class. If you want to do that, call the reservations department and drop the revenue management title.

The reason is that revenue management’s job is to make sure the flight is profitable, so they [the booking agents] are the ones who say what they’re allowed to say; they’re the boss of the flying club, so to speak. Not everyone knows this department exists, and by mentioning it you show yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how places are cleaned.

Tell the agent: Has revenue management released the first class seats for mileage upgrades yet? If they say no, ask if they can put me through to revenue management to find out when they are releasing seats and how many seats are left.

Answer politely as follows: You didn’t sell 20 seats? Why don’t you set them free? They often say at the end of the conversation: Okay, we’ll either release one for you or ask you to call back tomorrow. As a result, we have achieved a success rate of almost 100%.

Since the aim of revenue management is to make the flight more profitable, it offers first-class seats to anyone who requests them. That’s it.

The goal is to ensure (1) that none of the seats that could have been sold go to upgraders, and (2) that even if the plane has free seats in the premium cabin, no one upgrades instead of buying a premium seat. They don’t want free upgrades, although the programs that offer upgrades also want it to be a real benefit because it encourages loyalty and increases sales through that channel.

Just asking on the phone if there is room usually doesn’t work. That’s not to say that no United Global Services or American ConciergeKey member who buys international tickets in the premium lounge more than once a month has applied unsuccessfully. But the idea that this is a technique to use in public is silly.

I prefer equally stupid – and equally effective – suggestions that might be a little more fun. If you don’t want to read the actual upgrade tips, you can follow this tip: 7 ways to upgrade to first class on your next flight

It’s not gonna work. One day. But you look like the biggest idiot if you don’t try.

Here are two good tips:

1. Provide the pilot with a good, reliable work machine Everyone loves presents. If you give the pilot a strong, healthy working owl when you board, he usually puts you in first class right away.

…3. Mimosa finishing: Alcoholic beverages are free in first class. So if you dress up with a cocktail, you can sit down without anyone suspecting that you’re actually the person who has to catch the bus.

They’re all so cool.

Lake View from the Wing

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get upgraded to first class?

For the past year, I’ve been traveling around the US and abroad, and have been fortunate enough to upgrade to first class on every flight. How did I manage this? As it turns out, there are a few quick tricks that can help you get upgraded to first class for free. While some blogs have already covered these techniques, I’ve noticed that they don’t always work. So, I decided to write this post to share the ones that have helped me the most. 1. Dress the part. The best way to get upgraded to first class is to get to know the gate agents. When you see them they are doing their job, making sure you are assigned the right seat, and not too much more. However, if you are friendly and care about their job and their life, they will care about yours and want to help you. You want to be able to engage them in conversation. Ask them about their life, their family, and what they enjoy. You want to do this when they are not busy, in between tasks. It will show you are interested in them, and they will respond.

Can you sneak into first class?

Sometimes flying coach sucks. There’s the cramped seats, the over-crowded overhead bins and the annoying kid kicking the back of your seat for much of the flight. If you’re willing to fork over a few hundred dollars extra, you can fly first class—but how do you get upgraded? While there’s no science to it, there are a few tried-and-true methods that can work in your favor. To get started, be pleasant to the gate agent. If you’re a courteous, polite passenger, you’re more likely to get a better seat. If there are no upgrades available, ask the gate agent nicely if there’s a seat that Just because you paid for economy doesn’t mean…. … you can’t have a little fun. (The writer then goes on to list various ways one can attempt to get upgraded to first class, whether through free upgrades, upgrades you receive for free due to status, upgrades you can purchase, etc.)

How do you ask for an upgrade on a flight?

Flying is stressful enough without having to deal with a cramped seat, or a crying baby, or the guy who won’t stop talking to you. One of the biggest hassles of air travel is the dreaded middle seat, and unless you’re traveling first class, there’s no getting around it. But despite the small space, cramped legroom, and the inability to recline your seat, having a middle seat doesn’t always have to be a total drag. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your middle seat, whether you’re headed to a business meeting, a conference, or a vacation. What do you say without offending the passenger you want to sit next to? How long can you do it, and what do you need to do it? The key to getting an upgrade on an airline flight is to be polite and do it early.

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