Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Business Class Upgrade on Swiss

I was not looking forward to my 10-hour flight.

"There are no good seat on an airplane," I told my husband.

I was wrong.

There are seats on an airplane that don't involve bruised knees and armrest wars. They are called business class seats on long-haul Swiss flights. These seats allow you to recline all the way, read a newspaper without being handicapped by a mere page turn, and reap the rewards that only a 12 to 1 flight attendant ratio can bring.
I didn't want the flight to end.

I had a four-course lunch, which I could order from a menu, complete with a white tablecloth and food prepared by Hiltl, hand-scooped Moevenpick ice cream in a waffle cone, and non-stop beverage service. I can safely say, that in the 25 years since I started flying, this was the first flight I wasn't dehydrated, squirmy, or impatient.

I don't know how I'm going to return to my regularly scheduled squished state on my next flight, but sadly, I am not a business class regular. I wish I could tell you the secrets of being upgraded, but I have no idea why it happened. I didn't ask. I didn't complain. I didn't do anything. I just boarded the plane with 23B and got handed a receipt that said "seat upgrade to 10B."

And then, with my newfound fortune, I couldn't help but take photos, which, despite my first-class feeling, gave away my true status as an "economist."

Have you ever been upgraded? If so, what are your secrets?


Susan said...


I was upgraded about a year ago, and it was such a wonderful surprise. When I boarded the plane I automatically turned right and the attendant said "no, please go left" and then another attendant hung my coat up. That's when I knew I had entered a special realm!

I did take photos, and enjoyed every last perk. And when we landed at ORD, I felt really good; I think the air is better up there.

This one-time experience has spoiled me for real life.

Kathy said...

It will be hard to go back. Once you turn left, you never want to go back. We got our first upgrade on BA and it was awesome.

dimitri said...

Congrats on your upgrade! I love when this happens, but I have only been fortunate a couple of times so far.

Sometimes, an upgrade is requested by the ground staff if they had to put you through some unneccessary hassles. However, I believe that most of the time it is the airline's software which makes it happen, using some secret algorithm or something...

Sarah said...

Jealous! I've always wanted to have the same luck, but the few times I've actually had the courage to ask for an upgrade, my request was welcomed by a sarcastic, "you can't be serious" roll-of-the-eyes from the check-in person.

Chantal said...

All I can think is that we paid full price for the economy tickets and we've been flying this long-haul route for over four years now. Maybe the computer was rewarding our loyalty? Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Not to be a naysayer, because it so so cool that you got a surprise upgrade, but I've been noticing over the past few years that flying coach has become worse and worse while business and first has become more and more luxurious. I can't decide if this is class warfare or simply the airlines hoping to make the coach experience so miserable that you'll cough up the extra dough out of sheer exasperation to fly the better class. Seems to me they could give a few of those extra inches to the back of the plane where they are needed by more people (who grow grouchier about flying by the day) ...

mrschlosser said...

I used to be upgraded relatively frequently. I do think flying regularly (same flight/destination) with the airline helps, as does flying solo. (This has all stopped when I got married and had kids.) And while I can't say it's really true, I somehow think that making nice small chat when checking in relatively early for the flight helps too.

Oddly enough, my first upgrade was my flight back from Germany to the US after a year as an exchange student. I remember being clearly confused why they were offering me (a 17-year-old at the time) a glass of champagne (or orange juice).

London City Mum said...

Woo hoo Chantal - well done you!

We (myself, OH and my brother - all pre-kids) were upgraded on a ski trip to Whistler some 14 years ago on BA (back in the true good old self-nominated 'world's favourite airline' days). All we asked that we be able to sit together for the 10 hour plus odd flight... and were suddenly in business class being treated to the delights that came with it.

How did we do it? OH went to park the car in long-term car park whilst my brother and I checked our baggage in. We got two seats together.

When OH arrived to check in, he was read the riot act by the check-in chick about having allowed us to check his bag in for him! Note: we were married and SHARING a bag but this did not seem to register in her small brain.

She gave him a seat at the back of beyond.

So we asked if we could be moved together. "Ask at the gate" we were told.

So we did. Ta-da. Result. Thank you very much indeed. Lovely start to a 10 day snow-imbued holiday.

Another time was more recently on flight from Rio. Again with BA. Long story - read it here http://londoncitymum.blogspot.com/2010/04/where-timing-is-everything.html

We were upgraded to World Traveller Plus. With THREE young children. Bloody miracle, but then again there was a 'thing' called volcanic ash involved.

Not recommended.


Chantal said...

I agree that economy seems to get worse and worse and I did feel a bit guilty to have so much room in business class--three whole windows worth of space--when I knew how uncomfortable most of the people on the plane really were.

Glad to hear some of you have been fortunate a few times...maybe it will happen again in the next 25 years...

M'dame Jo said...

Lucky you!

It has never happened to me. And I suspect that as long as I arrive in advance at the airport, it'll never happen.

I have a friend who's been upgraded once because 1) he's very tall 2) the steward reassigned him to the exit seat, but the person who had booked the exit seat threw a tantrum. So she got her exit seat back... and he got an upgrade for remaining nice and polite.

Other people I know who's gotten upgraded a few times are the one that arrive just before the doors close, have been double booked and are lucky enough to be seated in business. Totally unfair, if you ask me :)

Jenni said...

And here I think the random assignment to "Economy Plus" on United was a perk! You know those extra 5 inches of legroom matter. I got upgrade one time, flying back from Puerto Rico. My original flight was cancelled and I got rerouted through Philadelphia. They didn't tell me at all. I'm sitting at the gate and glance at my boarding pass and it says First Class. The next 4 hours were hot towels and rum and coke.

Chantal said...

First class. Still haven't experienced that one, except for a one hour flight from St. Louis to Richmond. And I don't really count that...

M'dame Jo said...

Traveler for good > actually, I've noticed something with United, not sure if it's still the case or if it's all the plane, but the last row of economy plus in the plane is shown as economy in the seating chart (around row 24). If you select the first row of economy, it may still be economy plus. It worked a couple of times for me ;-)

Chantal said...

That's a great tip, M'dame Jo!

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