Now I Know Who Took My Upgrade

It’s rare that animals have their own seats, though. American Airlines has a celebrity pet program which allows it. And in 2000 US Airways made news for selling a first class seat to a pig.

Sometimes passengers will bring on an emotional support duck or turkey. Or a giant dog. But they sit in owner laps, at their feet, or just stand in the aisle.

On a United flight from Denver to Newark this past weekend there were plenty of elites sitting back in coach who were jealous of this cat.

Credit: Michael Fradkin

It’s possible there was a passenger there, too. But have you ever lost out on an upgrade because that last first class seat was taken by a cat, or a pig?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Back in the good old days when I worked for PI, my mother was NRSA on AA GSO BNA DFW and she got bumped in BNA for a service dog.

  2. Animals in carriers under the seat in front of you = fine. Other animals should travel somewhere other than the cabin.

  3. I’ve flown plenty of Emirates flights in first class around the Middle East where a seat was occupied only by a falcon.

  4. No wonder. We all know grandmas loved cats. Maybe they prefer animal rather than unknown person….

  5. The service animal thing is out of control. If your duck is that important to you, then drive.

  6. Here’s the deal, if the cat is well mannered then I’ll sit next to it any day vs the last few passengers I’ve had. And because sometimes I’m a nervous flyer I would probably end up talking to the cat.

  7. Cat wins. Too bad 9 Lives [cat food] doesn’t do those Morris the Cat ads (or at least, not that I’ve seen) on TV anymore, this would be a purrrfect commercial.

  8. @Stuart +1 — I’ve had a cat come with my B&B room in Italy (i.e. neighbor cat visited daily & stayed at length), and I’d love to have a cat come with my flight, as well. Meow!!

  9. All animals should be banned from planes. The service animal is not needed (nor able) to show a blind person down the aisle to the lav. If a snowflake (or her parent) can’t fly without an emotional support animal then maybe they should try Amtrak or Greyhound.

  10. @Boraxo – comment shows your lack of understanding of correct terminology. There is a world of difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal, and I wish people would stop confusing the two. A service animal CAN indeed show a blind person down the aisle. They’re around to make needy people independent or help with essential tasks. Emotional support animals are there to make people feel better – not exactly necessary, but helpful when allowed.

    And, as usual with this current world, if you don’t like or need something, it should be banned for all – why have this attitude. People are so into themselves these days.

  11. Airlines, like the hotels that welcome Emotional Support Animals, need to charge a deep cleaning service charge . . . several hundred dollars ought to cover the additional cleaning. If one passenger on an airplane states that they are allergic to peanuts, then peanuts are not served on the entire flight. Why should someone, who like myself is very allergic to cats, be forced to endure an allergic reaction resulting from ESAs on current or previous flights?

  12. Yes I see pigs all the time.
    Their flesh usually overflows into the adjacent seat mates.
    That’s why I fly up in the front.

  13. @Bhindar – they don’t serve peanuts, but they don’t restrict passengers from bringing peanut items on board.

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