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I personally have never been super aggressive about getting airline elite status. I currently have only one elite status, which I got through a status challenge that took me one flight for under $100.
The “secret” to getting a first class upgrade
I’ve seen this before but an article titled “Flight attendants say you should wear *this* type of outfit to get a first class upgrade” popped up in my news feed. It came from aol.com so I probably should have known better than to click, but of course I did.
The article has gems and “advice” like
“Sometimes, getting an upgrade isn’t about those frequent flier miles or knowing the right people. Sometimes, it’s about something as simple as what’s in your closet”
“It’s far better to look “smart but understated… You should look like you travel often … It helps; someone who is potentially due to get an upgrade can be knocked back if they aren’t dressed suitably”
ACTUALLY…. this is the dumbest advice I’ve ever heard
I don’t pretend to be the world’s biggest expert on first class upgrades, but it’s my understanding that the clothes that you are wearing have pretty much exactly ZERO influence on whether or not you get an upgrade. It’s my understanding that flight attendants pretty much have no discretion on upgrades, and even gate agents don’t have a ton of influence, since so many first class seats are either sold outright or awarded automatically based on status. The only scenarios I can think of where this might be an option would be in cases of irregular operations or if it’s a VERY empty flight.
But then, you’re talking to the guy who wears shorts and a T-shirt in first class, so what do I know?
(SEE ALSO: Should you dress up when flying first class?)
(SEE ALSO: Help! I’m “stuck” in Emirates First class on ONLY a 777!!!)
What do you think? Does dressing nicely get you any first class upgrades?
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The dumbest advice I had ever heard was to offer someone from the crew a $100-500 cash bribe. Now, I have no idea how successful this would be, but considering the obscure laws in countries frequented by carriers that still have international first class, I would steer clear of bribery. Also, just because there is a quid, there is never a guarantee of a quo.
I love it. Live in general will reward you for not looking like a …well…undesirable. Presentation and appearance get you better service. It’s basic psychology. Plus in this day and age where everyone thinks they are equals…it’s nice to know you aren’t.
3 piece suit and Range Rovers
This is very anecdotal, but in 2004 I got an upgrade before I knew anything about travel. I was flying KLM from Taiwan to Thailand on a ticket I purchased from a travel agent a few hours before. I always thought it was because I was wearing my suit to the airport but I suppose it was just my lucky day.
I don’t think that this is remotely good advice, but I have on a few occasions seen flight attendants on American exercise complete discretion to tell people in Economy that they could find a seat in Economy Plus when it was very empty — without any official change in seat assignment. This had apparently nothing whatsoever to do with how the lucky people were dressed . . . just a question of who the FA wanted to bestow an upgrade upon for whatever reason.
The dumbest advice I ever got was from a blogger who recommended taking bags during an emergency evacuation.
He then half heartedly retracted it, …..but… complained (passively aggressively) about the backlash, whilst trying to make people feel sorry for him being “trolled” as a response.
You know… from nasty but genius people who understand that a burning plane full of toxic black smoke is not the place to worry about silly belongings.
LOL. Still holding on to that one? I’ll give you the first part, but I don’t feel like my retraction was “half-hearted”
I constantly look for guests to bring into Delta’s Sky Club. Those wearing shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, tank tops, etc. don’t get invited. You may think it’s silly but since it’s my invitation it’s my dress code.
Many years ago, I was upgraded on an international flight from London Heathrow. I was standing in line waiting to check in. One of the airline (American) staff walked up the line and asked if I was flying to San Francisco and had no traveling companions. She then walked me to a different check-in line and I was checked into Business class. I was wearing a business suit – I had no elite status. I remember seeing a documentary about Heathrow airport where BA staff would look out from their view over the check-in lines identifying potential passengers to give complimentary upgrades. Don’t know if this was a real thing or just for the show. These days, BA and AA have given up on service so I doubt this happens any more.
Yes – that very much was a thing a long time ago but now, with upgrade lists 50-deep and more first class seats being sold outright, this just doesn’t happen any more.
I cringe seeing scruffy people (yes, t-shirt, shorts and flippers) in first class. It’s incredibly ignorant. G’ahead, fire away!
While it’s true that there so few upgrades today as to be considered “no upgrades”, dressing well (just wear a shirt with a collar, tuck it into your jeans and put on a belt, it won’t kill you.). I refuse to fly in coach, so I get my upgrade at the time of ticketing or I don’t fly.
But, consider a party of 4 who are missing their connection, leaving 4 seats up front available. Nobody will know until close to boarding, so the GAs and/or the FAs can potentially reward 4 people. And they ain’t gonna pick someone who looks like a bum, albeit a clean one. Food for thought, boys and girls.
I could not disagree with you any more. And as for your scenario, there is usually an upgrade line several people deep of elites and frequent fliers that will get the upgrade
I always fly first class to Hawaii, where I winter as a snowbird. I pay for positive space. I don’t own a suit or anything that remotely looks like the hideous costumes that flight attendants are required to wear. I dress for comfort, not for impressing people I don’t know. I have never been impressed by The Kardashians wearing their chic clothing. I am more impressed by Mother Theresa wearing rags or sack clothes. This superficial “dress to impress” trope may be fine for people with super low IQs who have no ability to conceptualize a human’s worth in any terms other than appearance. I eschew such shallowness. Sometimes I sew my own novelty shorts, and I wear T shirts I buy at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet – 7 for $20. When I volunteer at the Iolani Palace I wear an aloha shirt unless they buy tuxedos for everybody to wear on a special occasion. Superficial people are the bane of my existence.