There’s been tremendous coverage of this idiotic Bloomberg piece on how to score an upgrade every time.
It’s a great example of the genre of travel writing ‘how to upgrade’ that contains advice which is 100% completely, patently false (you don’t get a business class seat just by pretending it’s your honeymoon).
The claim in the Bloomberg article is that two magic words work like a shibboleth or password for perfect upgrade success. Those words are ‘revenue management’ and if you say them you sound like someone who knows what they’re talking who should be in first class, or something. It doesn’t work, but I have some better suggestions.
Here’s how the magic words supposedly work,
We have never bought an upper-class seat; if ever we’ve flown anywhere up front, we’ve used miles to upgrade from economy. If you want to do that, call reservations and drop the name “revenue management.”
The reason is that revenue management’s job is to make sure a flight is profitable, so they’re the ones telling [reservation agents] what they can say; they’re like Flying Club’s boss. Not everyone knows that this department exists, and by mentioning it you reveal yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how seats are released.
Say to the agent: ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’ When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left.
Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold? Why aren’t you releasing them?’ Often by the end of the conversation they say, ‘OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow. Doing that, we’ve had a pretty much 100 percent success rate.
Since revenue management’s job is to make a flight profitable, they’re going to give out first class seats to anyone that asks for them. Alright then.
The goal is to make sure that (1) no seats go to upgraders that might have been sold, and (2) even if there are empty premium cabin seats on the plane, that no one upgrades instead of buying the premium seat. They don’t want upgrades to be gimmes, though programs that offer ugprades want that to be a real benefit too because it encourages loyalty and drives revenue through that channel.
Simply asking over the phone to get a seat released doesn’t work most of the time. It doesn’t mean that there’s never been a United Global Services or American ConciergeKey member buying premium cabin international tickets more than once a month that hasn’t asked and been successful. But the idea that this is a technique for the general public to use is silly.
I prefer equally silly — and equally effective — suggestions that might be a little more fun. If you’re not going to read actual true advice on how to upgrade, then you might as well follow this advice: “7 Ways To Get Bumped Up To First Class On Your Next Flight”
It won’t work. Ever. But you’ll
look like the biggest idiot ever have fun trying.
Here are the two best tips:
1. Present the pilot with a good, dependable work mule: Everyone loves a gift. If you give the pilot the gift of a strong, healthy work mule as you board the aircraft, it is customary for the pilot to immediately bump you up to first class.
…3. Disguise yourself as a mimosa: Alcoholic beverages are complimentary in first class, so if you dress up as a cocktail, you can sit down without anyone realizing you’re actually a human who belongs in coach.
They’re all kind of awesome.