12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Mike Platt worked in the airline industry for 16 years and was managing director of HRG UK (Hogg Robinson Group) for six years. Now retired, he gives readers the best advice on how to secure the ultimate upgrade ...
People go to extreme lengths in order to turn left when boarding an aircraft. With 16 years in the airline business I've noted that approaches for upgrades tend to fall into two categories: aggressive or subtle. Both have merits in different circumstances but if you choose the wrong one with the wrong airline employee, life can become extremely difficult.
The check-in counter is usually the front line for upgrade efforts and, having worked there, I have heard them all. The aggressive were my favourite - particularly if I was having a boring day. Florid-faced passengers would ask if I realised exactly who I was talking to, and if barely veiled threats of future retribution failed, they would try a different tack. "I need space to work because I am so important", "I have to sleep because I am so important" and so on. However, being rude and demanding seldom resulted in an upgrade from me.
Instead, I would refer to my list of checked-in passengers and choose to seat my obnoxious upgrade petitioner next to overweight people, screaming kids or the oddball who had caught my eye earlier.
So please note, in general, aggression does not work and it can also severely jeopardise your chances of being considered for a coincidental upgrade. Coincidental upgrade?
Nearly all airlines overbook individual cabins as long as there are seats available across the whole plane. Economy Class is the most likely to be overbooked (especially on leisure routes) as it is the largest and most popular cabin.
As a result, flight administrators search at the last moment for passengers to upgrade. Upgrade hopefuls should, therefore, politely ask if they could be considered for an upgrade, if required. This does work. So my advice for upgrades is as follows:
Now, as I said earlier, I have seen it all in my time and while the above may well work, there is one definite way to get an upgrade. Death. A bit extreme but it does work most of the time.
People get ill and die in flight quite a lot. And there are very few places a corpse is welcome on an aircraft. So one of the favoured positions for a stiff is in seat 1A or 1F in First Class. The reason being that nobody, apart from the flight crew, is likely to walk past and it is much more preferable than leaving the deceased next a loved one or stranger, in seat 32D.
Toilets are another good place to store bodies or, as a last resort, the crew sleeping area. This is fi ne if the attendants are made aware of the situation. On one occasion a tired and irritable cabin attendant was seen poking and verbally abusing a corpse thinking it was an idle colleague.
Another time the captain decided to store a corpse inside the food delivery lift. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell the crew who soon found out the hard way when the deceased appeared at the loading hatch every time the lift button was pressed.
Having said all that I have travelled with two corpses, that I have been aware of, and they seemed very comfortable. If you are feeling unwell or claustrophobic - do tell the crew. A lady feeling faint was upgraded to First Class just across the aisle from me.
Initially, I felt sorry for her but within 30 minutes she was comfortably reclined, tucking into her meal while sipping Dom Pérignon. A miraculous recovery, and much better than opting for death.