Come Fly With Me.

This time next week, I'll be finishing up at work and getting ready for my last night in the UK before my two-week Australia visit! I am MORE than a little excited, and working from home tomorrow before the Easter break PLUS the long weekend, is going to make the time fly by.

Speaking of flying... I've been on a mission this week.

What is that mission? I wanted to find out everything I could about getting randomly upgraded on a flight. The flight from London to Sydney (and vice versa) is a horror, nearing 23 hours of flying time. It's broken into two legs, with a couple of hours stop-over in Asia (usually Singapore or Thailand) and I won't lie: it's painful. I've done it loads of times now, and it doesn't seem to get any easier. In fact, knowing what's ahead tends to make it just that little bit worse.

Because the countries are so far apart, tickets are expensive. As such, the only way I can afford to fly is cattle-class, also known as economy class, where most of the mere mortals end up. It's painful. It's squashed. And I inevitably end up stuck behind a very tall gentleman who reclines his chair for the entire flight. Interestingly, no matter how far in advance I plan my flight, and I'm a notoriously early planner (have had this flight booked since last November), I never end up with a row to myself. I always end up stuck in the back end of the plane, completely surrounded by people. It's awful. I hate it.

You see, I feel like I've contributed to my side of the positive flight karma system.

I only fly with one airline, because I'm a Frequent Flyer and I like to accumulate points. I fly with Qantas, because I'm Australian and I always book with them if I can... it makes sense to get as many points as possible.

And honestly, I'm an awesome traveller. I never piss off the flight attendants. I always smile and say thank you. I put up with the screaming children and the reclining passengers, and I try very hard not to elbow my seat passenger while I'm buttering my bread roll with a plastic knife. I also wear deoderant and brush my teeth and tend not to get up a lot during the flight, as I hate crawling over the top of people that are trying to sleep. I am the ideal passenger!

Because I'm a single traveller, I'm always the one that Qantas call upon to move seats - usually to accommodate for groups or families that for some reason have ended up split up on the flight. And every single time, I do it. Why wouldn't I? I would hate to be on the other end of that deal and stuck sitting with a stranger while my entire family sit together. I'm nice about it. I don't mind, at all. As long as I'm near a window that I can fall asleep on at some point, with my head at a 90 degree angle, I'm happy. (Well, as happy as you can be on a long-haul flight.)

Even still, even the times I've been switched, it's just been to another squishy economy seat. I've never managed to score an upgrade. Ever. Every time I fly, I hope this will be the day it happens, but so far I've been left unlucky. I'm hoping next week will be the one.

It seems like every second person I know has been upgraded at some point or another. I spent my lunch break searching for clues, and have found out that Qantas is notoriously bad with handing out free upgrades. Bummer! So far, I've been advised to be nice to the check-in and gate crew (check, I am always nice!) and to dress smartly, so no jeans or uggs for me. Those things, I can do - and usually do anyway!

Have you ever been randomly upgraded? Tell me all about it... and rub your luck off on me!

10 Comments • Labels: ,  


Ian said...

I scored a double win when I went to the US last year. Got upgraded to premium economy from Syd-LA and business on the way home. Both with Qantas.

I think mostly its just being in the right place at the right time, and being high enough in the frequent flyer pecking order.

Allie said...

I've never been upgraded. But maybe you should bring a garment bag that looks like a wedding dress . . . I've heard from friends traveling with theirs that sometimes it helps. :)

Jess said...

Torsten and I got upgraded when we flew to DC earlier this month. Not to business or first class but to Economy Plus, which on United gives extra leg room and costs $50 per person each way. What actually happened was that we were running late and arrived at the gate after the flight had boarded. So as the flight attendant was scanning our boarding passes I asked her politely if they happened to have any seats with extra leg room available. I pointed out my 6'4" husband and mentioned how uncomfortable he gets flying in coach (obviously this part of the request wouldn't work for you, flying alone). And she said "Let me see what I can do" and then gave us tickets to a whole Economy Plus row to ourselves. Being last to board a non-full flight helped, I think, and so did being polite and smiling, and I think the fact that we weren't dressed like total schlubs (I was wearing a skirt and Torsten had on a nice polo shirt). But really, the only reason it happened was that I asked! It was great.

Robyn said...

My uncle gets upgraded tons... he lives in nz and flies a lot. He's always in a suit though. Maybe you should wear a power suit and have cofortable things in your hand luggage to change into!

(I had a vomiting child next to me on my way to Adelaide. Now that was fun)

Jacinta said...

I flew from Bombay to Nairobi many years ago and was upgraded from economy to business. I have no idea why...
I sat next to a lovely Indian family who gave me a lift to my hotel when we arrived because they were concerned about me travelling alone. (how nice was that?)
Of course, it was Air India, so there was still curry for dinner. It was different flock wallpaper though! Oh and definitely more spacious!
Maybe if they ask you to move seats to help out a group booking, you could suggest they move you into business class, considering you are doing them a favour??? Worth a try
Good luck. Enjoy the trip home.

siany said...

we got offered a $90 upgrade from Vegas to Sydney which we thought 'WOOO cheap!!' until we realised it was only for the leg between Vegas and LA, and then back to economy for LA to Sydney. Ha. I dont think so!!

good luck!!

LaLa said...

(You may know most of this..) Generally, if you are flying from the UK and transiting through another country there will be less of a chance of getting upgraded as the UK is the originating country and they overbook flights to try to manage the fact that a lot of people may not turn up.

Of course, most of the time most people turn up so by the time the flight leaves the UK it is full. When the flight arrives in Asia to pick up people who have stopped over there or people who are simply flying from Asia to Aus they have nowhere to sit them - they either get an upgrade (if there is room) or they get an offer of being "bumped" from the flight.

I stayed in Singapore for a couple of days and when I checked in asked if there was a spare bulkhead seat (if you can’t get upgraded this can be an alternative solution – no one sitting in front of you!) as I am nearly 6 foot tall and definitely need the legroom (funnily enough I always seem to be stuck behind a little old lady who puts her chair back. I NEVER PUT MY CHAIR BACK.) Anyway, I digressed for a moment…. When I asked for a bulkhead seat the check in lady had a whispered conference with her colleague and then asked if I would be willing to be bumped to a flight the next morning… This actually suited me better as instead of departing and flying in the middle of the night I got to depart in the morning and arrive in Australia early evening. For my troubles they allowed me to check in my large suitcase and I kept an overnight bag, I also got put up in a ritzy hotel for the night, cab charges to and from the airport, meal vouchers to use in the ritzy hotel dining room, a free upgrade to Raffles class with it’s free Singapore Slings and silver cutlery, access to the Gold lounge beforehand and $500!

I highly recommend taking advantage of bumping!!

The other times I have been upgraded it’s generally been when I have been wearing a suit (having just left work) & they thought I was an air hostess.

I’m not a frequent flyer so that never came into it.

Considering the amount of times I have flown it doesn’t happen that much though… generally it all comes down to luck and asking at the right time. It also makes it very hard to fly economy ever again.

Britt said...

Never been upgraded, but I hope you do!

LaLa said...

sorry about that really loooong comment. I got carried away.

kirby said...

DUDE! I always want to get upgraded. I thought I'd been upgraded once, based on the seats on the plane I'd just left being the same as the plane I was getting on to, but alas.. it was not the case. And that was the time I got stuck between two European ladies who were travelling together, but refused to sit together... then decided they would talk and pass food across in front of me the whole time.
Lovely. At least it was better than that time I got stuck between two kids... vile little creatures.

Here's hoping for your upgrade. That London-Sydney flight is a BUTTHEAD.

OH OH.. Lucky you're not on the airbus! The tires blew at Sydney airport last night...

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