How I Got a Free Upgrade on a Flight by Being MYSELF

Plane Window SunsetJamaica was a good trip for me, not only did I do some awesome activities, I met a life long friend (who is now stuck with me forever!  Read our story: HERE), I also ended up getting upgraded on my flight home.  There are blogs everywhere giving ‘tips’ and people are always asking how to get them, but I must have broke all the rules, I didn’t even try to get upgraded!  Here’s how it worked for me.

First up the rules I knocked on the head:

  • I wasn’t dressed smart and in a way that would fit in with the higher paying customers.  Even though I was flying back to the UK in January, I was still in shorts, t-shirt, a hoody and flip flops.
  • I didn’t ask.
  • I also hadn’t been asked to stand down.
  • My trip wasn’t a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary or honeymoon.
  • I already had my boarding card with a seat allocation as I was checked in and at the gate.
  • I’m not a frequent flyer with a particular airline or part of a loyalty programme (well I am, but my AAdvantage account only has about 18,000 miles)
  • I hadn’t been comp’ed it as part of my blog or as media.

The things that worked in my favour:

1. I was travelling Solo

I thought I heard my name called out over the loud speaker and automatically started panicking as to why.  I went up to the desk  and the conversation went a little like this:

Me: Hi, err is everything OK, I think you might have just called my name?

Gate Agent: Kylie? Yes! We were just wondering if you would mind if we changed your seat, a couple are sitting apart and if we can move you, as you’re by yourself, they’ll be able to sit together.

Me: Oh phew!  I thought you were going to kick me off the flight or something!  Yeah sure!  I have work tomorrow so as long as I’m on the flight I don’t care where I sit, you can put me in the hold if you want!

…and so he gave me a new boarding card.

2. I was Polite

I always am.  I can’t stand rude people.  I was brought up to treat people how I wish to be treated in return.  Of course I didn’t mind moving, it’s not like I had pre-booked a seat, I was travelling by myself and therefore didn’t mind where I was sat.  I can guarantee there would be some people who just out of principle wouldn’t move, because that was THEIR seat.  The Gate Agent was friendly so I was just my happy, friendly self.

I get back to where I was sitting, with my new boarding card in hand and as soon as my butt touched the chair, I heard my name being called out again.  I turned round and looked at the desk to see the Gate Agent grinning and waving at me…I went back over…

Gate Agent: There was a spare seat, I’ve upgraded you!  Have a nice flight and I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in Jamaica!

I was so happy!  It was completely unexpected and I couldn’t thank him enough!

I returned to my seat a 2nd time and the couple opposite was like oh what did they want?  So I told them and they literally went off on some rant at me.  “Why on earth did they upgrade you?!?!??! We’ve been here for 6 weeks and have spend thousands with this company!!!!!”  I couldn’t believe how rude they were.  They had already told me how they hadn’t left the resort the whole time they were there, I kinda felt sorry for them, they had missed seeing an awesome country.  They had literally cooked themselves on the beach for 6 weeks.  I explained that they wanted my seat as I was travelling alone.  I may have also mentioned that I hadn’t been to an all inclusive hotel since I was 11 (I was 25 when I went to Jamaica) and I’m used to roughing it in camper vans and hostels and this was the first time I had really treated myself.  So what they had loads of money, I worked hard for my trip and I’d rather have manners than look down on others.

3. I was travelling on a flight that was technically part of a Package Holiday

I think this point had a lot to do with getting the upgrade.  A lot of flights I have been on in the past are full of solo travellers, people flying for business trips, visiting friends/family etc.  An example of this is the flight route I take quite a bit between London and Chicago.  An air hostess told me before one flight (while in the line at Starbucks!) that economy was empty and business was full to the brim, so if I wanted to move and have a row to myself I was more than welcome too!

Although my Jamaica flights could be bought just as a flight, the majority of travellers had brought it as a package, along with their hotel, airport transfers and an in country rep, all under one Tour Operator.  I had done this too, but there’s not many people that go on a package holiday alone, it’s normally with a partner or a family too, therefore everyone wants to sit together.  I am flying to Mexico shortly but with a different UK Tour Operator, Thomas Cook, so I’ll see if my theory works then too!.

The differences between Premium and Economy on Thomson Airlines

  • Champagne or orange juice when you first got on the plane.
  • Free newspaper on each seat
  • Noise cancelling headphones (compared to nasty plastic ones)
  • Amenity kit that included lip balm too! (I always travel with lip balm on flights!) There was no kit in economy.
  • A beautiful pillow with a beach scene on (I asked if I could keep the pillow case, it was THAT nice!) and a blanket
  • Bigger seats
  • More seat back TV entertainment
  • Real plates, cutlery and salt and pepper pots…no plastic forks or paper sachets!
  • Glasses rather than plastic cups
  • Multiple drink services…In economy this was one thing I was disappointed with, we were only offered 1 service in a really long flight, I purposely bought lots of drink for the return and didn’t need them in the end!

On most flights where they make you walk through the higher classes to exit the plane, I normally think how clean economy looks to the absolute pig sty that the upper classes normally look like.  I guess on this particular flight, I was in the exit row seat so mine was kept quite clean but I can’t say if the rows behind looked the same!

 

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