What was your best upgrade?

We ask readers to share their best-ever airline upgrade and what made it so memorable.

By David Flynn, January 5 2022
What was your best upgrade?

Certain moments are indelibly stamped in one's memory. Your first kiss. Your first car. And for many travellers, their first upgrade.

For me, that first upgrade came during my 15-odd years as a technology journalist and editor.

Jetting around the world – mainly to Asia and North America, sometimes to the UK and Europe, and most of the time in business class – was part and parcel of the job, especially during the boom years of tech, and no doubt planted the seed for my eventual shift into writing about business travel.

It was in early 2009, and just weeks after Qantas began flying its then-new Airbus A380 on the 'Kangaroo Route' between Sydney and London.

I'd been flown to London for a smartphone media launch, with the trip booked in Qantas business class, but on checking in at Heathrow for the return flight I was upgraded to first class for the London-Singapore leg.

Sweet memories of a suite upgrade: first class on the Qantas A380.
Sweet memories of a suite upgrade: first class on the Qantas A380.

The spacious suite, with its unique 'swivelling armchair' design and cocooning layout, was a massive step up from Qantas' two-abreast business class – even if it fell short of the mark set by Singapore Airlines and Emirates, the only other airlines flying the superjumbo at that time.

And I'm not ashamed to admit that despite the A380's late evening departure from London, the younger and greener me stayed awake for as long as possible during the 13-hour trek – after all, I reasoned, it would be a shame to 'waste' the upgrade by sleeping – so as to soak up every aspect of this A380 first class experience.

To a large extent, this typified some of the best attributes of an upgrade – such as being a completely unexpected 'surprise and delight' moment – although there are also times ahead of a long overnight flight or at the end of a gruelling day, when an upgrade, even from economy to premium economy or business class, is especially welcome.

So we're asking Executive Traveller readers – after all, you're certainly no strangers to that bump-up – to share your best upgrade, and why it was so memorable.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 380

I've also enjoyed a few upgrades to Qantas First over the years, but the upgrades that stand out for me where Emirates First. After Qantas and Emirates became partners back in 2013, Emirates began regularly upgrading Qantas Platinum Ones and Platinum from business to first. A lot of my frequent flyer colleagues and friends noticed this too! I got an upgrade from Emirates Business to Emirates First on several A380 flights out of Sydney all the way to the UK, and on some Boeing 777 flights too, eg connecting to or from Dubai.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

19 Oct 2015

Total posts 2

Has to be the first upgrade in 1989 when flying out to the Bahamas via Miami with Continental to play rugby. Travelling with a team mate who had damaged his knee. I told him to bring his stick and we should wear our No.1' s, blazers etc. We had the cheapest economy tickets and at checkin, the lady asked asked where we would like to sit and I said some where with a bit of leg room. The response came,"Since you are so smartly dressed we can put you in First Class to-day!". Double G and T's before take-off. Rib of beef cut from the trolley, we were in seventh heaven, all for 199 pounds. Of course reality kicked in on the return leg sat in the middle of 4 seats in economy.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 142

circa. 1990. Flew home solo from boarding school for the holidays BNE - POM and got upgraded from economy to business on a QANTAS 747 (I suspect economy was full because of the school holidays). I'd already been flying with QF since 1980, aged 4 years, but always in economy with my parents. So this was quite something, considering I was maybe 13 or 14 and not even a QANTAS FF member at the time (if such a thing existed in 1990?). The fact that it was my all time favourite aircraft, and also my first premium cabin experience, and being from the era when cabin crew wore that awesome YSL designed uniform (also my favourite QF uniform!), made it the most memorable and best upgrade ever.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 147

My favourite upgrade was flying back from the UK on a Qantas 747. circa 2008. I was upgraded at check in to Premium Economy for the LHR to Hong Kong leg, just about two weeks after QF launched that PE product on that type. It was my favourite upgrade because it was my first time in a premium cabin, and it was free!

My partners' favourite upgrade was many years ago before the QF/EK alliance and she was flying to Auckland for work in Emirates economy on the A380. I had some EK points about to expire so I upgraded her to business as a surprise a few days out. But when she checked in she was advised she had been further upgraded to First! So she flew Emirates A380 First, while paying for economy, with no EK status at all.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 230

Yes, nothing wrong with a 'best upgrade' being to premium economy, on a long flight when you are steeling yourself for 12-14 hours in economy, being upgraded to premium economy is an absolute win! I got the same when Qantas began A380 flights to Dallas Forth Worth, was in economy due to a client with a very tight travel budget but was upgraded to premium economy. Very worthwhile for what was Qantas' longest flight, and I used points to upgrade to premium economy on the way back.

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 71

I was flying from London to Chicago in the early 90's with BA, had an economy boarding pass but was non-smoking, I mentioned this to the nice lady at the gate and she said she'd see what she could do for me. I waited and waited as the plane was boarding, getting nervous I might not get on board and just as the last couple of people started to board, she looked at me, wiggled her finger at me to come over to her and handed me a boarding pass, smoking Business Class. Couldn't believe my luck. Boarded the flight, sat in my seat and was greeted by the most beautiful FA I had ever seen (still applies to this day), it was a fantastic flight.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 230

I get the feeling that check-in staff used to have a lot more autonomy to upgrade passengers and that these days it's more done automatically based mainly on status?

Anyway my favourite upgrade was on Swiss, I'd flown to Singapore for work and had booked myself onto a Swiss flight to Zurich for a long overdue holiday. Was in business class, at the check in counter I engaged in some chit-chat with the agent, she asked if it was business or pleasure etc, I said it was 100% pleasure, a holiday and I'd never been to Switzerland, while she was processing the boarding pass and checking my bags we chatted a bit more about where I'd go in Switzerland and she offered some suggestions, and then when the boarding pass appeared it was in first class, she smiled and said it would get my holiday off to a great start.

Headed to the SQ First lounge and had a few glasses of their excellent Millesime Champagne, then onto the Swiss Boeing 777 and turned left into first class. Amazing meals and service, a really memorable flight, visited the Swiss Arrivals lounge at Zurich for a shower and breakfast, it really was the best way to start my holiday!

A former employer had a global arrangement with Etihad whereby if a flight was booked between Sydney and London (or return) it would be upgraded to the next cabin class. Book economy, fly premium; book premium, fly biz. 

I was fortunate in that the travel policy at work was already quite generous and business class was the standard for that route. So, that meant that whenever I would fly to London & back I was able to enjoy the unbelievable Etihad First Class Apartment Suites on their A380. 

An incredible product that I hope is able to return to the skies soon.

05 Jan 2022

Total posts 1

My most memorable was in the mid 2000s, LAX-MEL on a QANTAS 747, seat 1K.

Right in the nose of the aircraft, the curve of the fuselage makes it feel like you can see straight ahead.  After a few internal flights in the US, the comfort and service on Q was a stunningly good change for the better.  At LAX we were at the height of the post 9/11 confusion, with queues snaking everywhere around the terminal - people had to ask which queue each was before joining, lest they end up at some other counter or gate.  So settling into a first class seat as we rose over the Pacific was a most welcome relief.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 94

September 1994 flying around the world  on KLM and Northwest. Had many great legs however Honolulu to Osaka was amazing!

Arrived at check in desks and surprised no other passengers around! Agent starts to check me in, then says there is a problem. Asks me to move across to next desk. Tells me problem still occurs and calls boss over. Turns out I am only passrnger to check in - rest are groups who do seperate check in!

Head to gate. Sitting there it suddenly  dawned on me i am only non Japanese person on flight!

Get onboard 747 and sitting by door. Talking to crew and told them i was on round world trip, connecting in Osaka to Ansett flight to Australia ( NW had just stopped flights Osaka - Sydney)

Next thing purser comes up and says " Welcome onboard. You're a member of our frequent flyer scheme.  First class is empty! Come up front!!!

So whole flight i was in first class by myself. They didn't have first class meals but had lots of other  snacks, alcohol and other goodies.

Was given loads of freebies and had crew spoiling me rotten. Got up on flight deck for a while.

Coming into Osaka, PA system failed. Purser asked me if they needed to do annoucements in English as well as Japanese as i was only English speaking passenger! Told him no as i flew regularly and worked for ATC. He was very thankful as reduced crew workload.

It was an amazing flight!

Wow, sounds like a once in a lifetime experience! And visiting the flight deck, that just doesn't happen these days! I think airline check-in staff have less latitude to hand out upgrades these days but the cabin crew should certainly be doing this whenever there's an empty seat, especially if there's the full amount of f&b loaded and the person is a high tier frequent flyer.

My memorable upgrade would be be Cathay Pacific first class coming back from London on one of the old Boeing 747s. Yes, it was a long time ago, but Cathay's first class suites were then so impressive compared to business class, and I still rate their 777 equivalents as a great 'classic' design even in the face of modern competitors. F&B was absolutely top notch and the staff could not have been nicer. I know some people say that CX crew can be a bit 'robotic' but my crew was so happy and eager to make the flight special for every passenger in first class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 85

Had 'psyched' myself up for the SYD-LAX slog in economy as part of a 'group' trip, spent some time in QF First lounge before the flight to ease into the day and was surprised to get the upgrade to PE at the gate...then copped a hard time for the rest of the trip from the touring group...yeah, I know, first world problem.

And then there is the upgrade at gate to F (DXB-LHR) which is always good...

I know that feeling very well, psyching yourself up for a long flight in economy by making the most of the Qantas First Lounge, knowing that when the time comes to board your flight you'll be down the back of the bus!

My best ever upgrade was actually a double upgrade from economy to business. I was flying Qantas from Sydney to Los Angeles in economy, and like Clancy above, arrived early to make the most of my visit to the Qantas First Lounge knowing I'd be stuck in economy for the actual flight.

But there'd been some issue with some a group booking in economy being mucked up or somehow needing to be accommodated, maybe they were on a flight that had been cancelled. Anyway, it meant Qantas was shifting passengers around to make room in economy, so as a then-Platinum at the check-in counter I was upgraded to premium economy. Excellent result, I thought, as this is so much better than economy.

But when I got to the lounge they checked my boarding pass and printed me a new one, saying I'd now been upgraded to business class. My mate who was travelling with me managed to get into my premium economy seat so we were both all smiles!

23 Mar 2016

Total posts 8

I have been lucky enough to be upgraded to Biz twice as an economy passenger. First time travelling with my Mum as a teenager in the mid-90s on CX from HKG to ADL to MEL which gave me an early taste of the high life. Second time was late 90s on a QF flight from the old GMP to SYD. I was issued an economy ticket and was one of a handful of Westerners surrounded by Korean pensioners in tour groups. Got to the boarding gate and was handed a ticket for 1K in the nose of the plane. Like you @aniljak it seems that all the non-Korean speakers were herded in to Biz so they didn't have to do announcements in English down the back.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 54

Mine was in 2004.. I had flown JFK to La earlier, with a Kiwi sitting next to me. He went for a smoke.. I went to the Qantas club. When we checked in at the gate.. the boarding passes beeped. Told to take a seat, like a pair of naughty school kids.. people were staring at us as they went past. Five mins later we were handed new passes.. upstairs in the Jumbo LA to Bris for me and to NZ  for him. The woman sitting next to me had come from Chicago and got an upgrade as well.

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 181

Working in Singapore all December, trying to return home for Christmas, as usual, stuck in economy, full flight, down the back. Rocked up to the gate, told to stand aside for a moment. Thoughts of not being home for Christmas. Suddenly told I was upgraded to Business. A great way to come home to the family.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2018

Total posts 6

Back in the late ‘90s i flew from Melbourne to Christchurch (Qantas) in economy (B767) and got a hire car for the drive to Queenstown. I had a lovely 3 day stay in Queenstown. After the 6 hour drive back to Christchurch airport the check in agent greeted me with the news that i had been upgraded to business class as Economy Class was fully booked. At the time i was a bronze FF and Qantas Club member. Even though the flight was only 4 hours long i very much enjoyed the experience, but it was the surprise of being upgraded by the airline that i still remember fondly to this day.

15 Jun 2017

Total posts 2

I have been upgraded a few times but the most memorable was the upgrade I got on a domestic flight in Sweden some 20 years ago. This was before 9/11 and when unassigned seating was common. On a winter morning flight from Gothenburg to Stockholm on a BAe146 (a flight I had done many times before), I was early at the gate and managed to get my favourite seat 1D, and was settling in while the rest of the flight was boarding.

It was a full flight and a few minutes later, an FA started speaking on the PA: "Do we have any Gold tier members on the flight today?". I think I knew what was coming so I quickly put my hand up and since I basically was just an arm length from the FA, I was chosen. "Good morning, sir. Would you mind sitting in the cockpit during this flight since we want to give room for more passengers onboard?". I happily accepted and moved into the cockpit for the jump seat. The pilots were very welcoming and described their work for me as the flight went along. A truly great experience. 

I did hope for more cockpit experiences but then came 9/11 and the cockpit doors went closed indefinitely.  

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 205

Honeymoon trip to Hawaii.  Qantas upgraded us upstairs on the 747, 1st time my (new) wife had flown business.  It was a nice touch by Qantas.

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 318

Not an Upgrade, but probably just as good, or even better.  Back in June 2017 I was able to get Classic Reward tickets with QF for a trip SYD-LHR-SYD for myself, my wife and my sister, all in First class to LHR and return to SYD.  Sure it cost a mountain of Points but only about $1,500 each for taxes etc.  I would've booked them about 11 months ahead on the day that they were released.  We were seated in 3A, 4A & 5A.  

Of course once QF9 via Perth started there were no more Classic Reward seats available for QF1/2, but we considered ourselves so fortunate to have grabbed those tickets then.

30 Mar 2014

Total posts 15

In the mid-2000's, I booked a trip to the Caribbean on points in economy via a deal with a friend who had plenty of points but couldn't use them for various reasons. I paid him somewhere around 50-60% of the cash cost for the same flight and he booked the ticket for me. My status with the airline at the time was zero, but I flashed an expired high-status card at check-in and was upgraded to Business for the outbound leg. Why not try again on the way home, I thought? Lo and behold, I was upgraded again for the flight back to LHR. As an extra-special icing on the cake, and despite it being a points flight, they credited my FF account with the full points for both legs including the business class bonus!!

11 Mar 2017

Total posts 8

November 2019 booked BC return to London with my wife on QF, which was enough to get us to Platinum for the first time in a number of years. Put in for the upgrade to first and got the text message the day before while I was driving. Pulled over to ring the wife but couldn't get through. Kept trying and eventually spoke to her - we were both trying to call each other at the same time such was the excitement. Great trip plenty of food wine and sleep. After feasting on the flight to SIN we went to the newly opened QF first lounge where again they saw our boarding passes and rushed us into a busy lounge and found us a seat. Wanted us to try the menu that they were very proud of, bbq stingray etc, we could not eat a thing. Flight to London was sleepy but I still managed to make the most of it.

The next flight we had was BC to Singapore in March 2020 (people told us not to go!!). Went for the upgrade again on the way over and got it again! We went via Melbourne from Sydney for some extra SC's. Domestic flight out of Sydney was a little late and we had a tight connection. Got to the lounge and they couldn't be nice enough when they saw our boarding passes. Rushed us to the spa treatment then time for a quick champagne before boarding. Getting the lift down to the gate and walking past 100's of people behind the glass on the way to 3A was a nice way to start the trip knowing what I was about to experience. On top of that it was one of the newly upgraded 380's so I got to tick another box.

22 Sep 2020

Total posts 14

Was in Sydney for work on a QR Business ticket. Tried unsuccessfully to upgrade to F using Q Credits for SYD DOH. At F check in at SYD (QR Platinum), asked again about an upgrade and was told the flight was full (Commonwealth Games had just ended at the Gold Coast).

The check in agent told me that my cabin was full and there was no chance of an upgrade. Next I get a F boarding pass - seems QR had upgraded me at no cost, so I saved my Q Credits for another flight DOH - PER :)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 15

About 15 years ago I was travelling from London to Sydney on BA Premium Economy and wasn’t particularly looking forward to it having experienced it on the first leg from Sydney to London. It wasn’t bad, but it was more economy than premium. However I had managed to secure one of the front seats in the premium cabin. I forget the number but it was seat 6B or something. 

This was the days of paper boarding passes. As I boarded the ground crew member fed my pass through the machine and the red lights on top lit up. The dot matrix printer sprang noisily into action and she ripped up my boarding pass and gave me a new one. 

I looked at it. Something like Seat 63J. She could obviously see my rising blood pressure as I thought I’d been downgraded to some shitty seat in the back, but she waited a few seconds and just as I was about to complain she said “it’s upstairs sir”. 

Upstairs on the 747 meant business class! First and only time I’ve been upgraded, and I didn’t have any special status with them. Club World back then was one of the best business classes then. I’d previously only flown on Cathay’s business which had those recliner seats. This was my first taste of the fully lie flat seat!

18 Jul 2013

Total posts 27

My best upgrade started as a disappointment.  The boarding passes my partner and I were given at check-in for SYD-LHR on the A380 were not for the premium economy seat numbers that I had diligently researched and selected months ago.  I handed them back: "These are not the seat numbers we booked.  Please, is it possible to change our seats back to what we originally selected?".  I wasn't happy.  The agent handed them back to me.  "Sir, I think you'll find these seats are much better."  I took another look and saw the words "Business Class".  "The whole way to London?".  "Yes, sir".  "Oh, okay, these seats will be just fine, thank you very much!".  You couldn't wipe the grin off my face for the next 24 hours.   

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 142

It's really nice to see the majority of these 'best ever upgrade' stories are associated with that perennial old favourite - the 747 :)

11 Mar 2017

Total posts 8

Yes good see - QF 747 was my first ever BC flight which was a points redemption.

I was lucky enough to get an upgrade on a number of flights between Sydney and Tokyo with QF. Got the upper deck exit row, upper deck front row but the best was 3A in the old First Class Seat. Had some wines with my skiing buddy in my "suite" who got an upgrade too. He was in the middle seat on the Sky Bed Mk1 a few rows back so I that made it even better.

06 Jan 2022

Total posts 1

On a cricket trip from Sydney to Amsterdam and we flew Qatar Airways. Checking into business class, which we got very cheaply from cricketing friends in Asia, we were surprised and excited to see that our tickets were voided and Senior Management from Qatar came to meet us at the gate to present us with First Class suites, there were 3 of us. A 14 hours first leg to Qatar in the most spacious cabin I've ever seen was the best experience hands down. Problem of course is now I've tasted First Class, it's very difficult to go back....

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 4

Melbourne to New York Christmas Eve 2017.  Cathay.  Booked on points, economy Melbourne to Hong Kong, then business Hong Kong to JFK.  Checked in at a business counter as a OneWorld Emerald QF Platinum. Took a really long time for the guy at the counter to check us in, but handed back three passports, three ticket wallets and said "sorry about the delay, just some problems with the check in process, please enjoy your flights, you and your luggage are checked through to JFK and your boarding passes for both legs are in the wallets."  I thanked him and we headed straight off to security.

It wasn't until we'd cleared security, and done a quick lounge scout and settled on the QF lounge that we checked our boarding passes and realised we'd been op-up to J MEL-HKG and F HKG-JFK.

I sought the guy out at the gate to thank him - he was a flight attendant who was working check in on the premium counter, then the business cabin on the MEL-HKG leg - and apologised for not thanking him earlier as I hadn't realised what he'd done until we'd walked away.  He said that it was no problem, and said he'd see me on board.

On board, he let me know that the family in front of me (also booked in economy, but using the business line due to status) would have got the op-up, except they started off the check in process with a bad attitude, and a demand to be re-seated from the seats that they had available when they checked in because they weren't able to sit together.  They still weren't sitting together, either, and came up to complain to the purser during the flight, demanding to be moved.  Was fun to watch them being refused, politely, of course.

First, last and only op-up, but made for a great start to a great holiday.  The fact that we missed our connecting flight, and were stuck in Hong Kong for a few hours didn't matter - we still were in first class for the delayed leg, and still got the first class Christmas in the Air experience.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2012

Total posts 25

In the good old days of the Ansett/Cathay connection, I flew with Cathay to Amsterdam and in Hong Kong, I was upgraded to business. I had barely settled in my aisle seat when I was approached by the flight purser. 'Mr Dundas?' My heart sank. 'You're not going to put be back down the back again?'  'No, actually I was going to ask you if you'd like a seat in first class.' Apparently someone upfront had a phobia about being sucked out of a window (he had a window seat), and as the person in the aisle seat was an Australian (this was on a 743, not first class as it is now), she wanted another Australian to be with him. Once there, I did talk a bit to the bloke next to me; he'd evidently paid for his ticket and made a few passing comments about how many people up front (not just me) had probably been upgraded from business class. I didn't tell him the whole story of how I'd leapfrogged there from deepest darkest economy.

Qantas

31 Oct 2013

Total posts 14

I have been lucky with a couple of "at gate" upgrades with Cathay Pacific BNE to Shanghai.
Nice to hear that "ting" when you scan your boarding pass.  

But the best one was way back in January 1990 with United Airlines. 
We were on our "poverty young people trip" Sydney to US and then to UK and returning via US-  flying United and Aer Lingus.

Being holiday travel the planes were absolutely packed - with passengers on the Aer Lingus NY to Shannon sleeping on the floor and in the aisles.

When we were back in New York we saw a United agent  desk at the WTC Twin Towers and we asked if we could upgrade to an exit row for the return leg.

They declined our request and simply stated that "you will be happier with the seats you have been allocated". 
My now wife argued tearfully that she wanted an exit row, not realising that this was code to "You have been upgraded to business". 
The agent smiled nicely and whispered the word "Business".  
The tears stopped immediately.


This turned out to be Flight 811, which just 12 months earlier had a catastrophic mid-air incident.  To be honest, we did frequently gaze at the walling and seats wondering if this was the actual plane that was involved.

But this was all forgotten when we saw those 2 magical words on the Breakfast menu - "Veuve Cliquot"
  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Oct 2013

Total posts 30

I was so lucky to get upgraded on my very first international work flight - 1993 28 years ago.. After around the globe trip, last leg LAX-SYD I was booked in J on a Qantas 747, boarded and settled in to my seat upstairs when the purser popped around and asked if I minded being moved to FIRST :-) I think they had a large group wanting J seats. I couldn't believe my luck. Got home totally exhausted - I didn't have my planned sleep, watched movies, ate & drank all the way back! It was the days when in F there was a list of 25 movies and they brought around the cassette of your choice which you popped in to the player in the armrest. Naturally the seat was nothing like today's but the food (and wine) was definitely a class better... 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2547

So many great tales of memorable upgrades, across so many airlines and routes – thanks everyone for sharing these!

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

06 Jan 2022

Total posts 1

Flying from Sydney to Los Angeles on the Air NZ 747 (Many Moons ago) booked in Eco. The first time using what points I had to put in a one class upgrade request from Eco-Bus and keeping my fingers crossed as only a lowly Silver Flyer. A week out I get a phone call with an offer to purchase an upgrade to Bus and it was quite affordable so I paid for the upgrade. 

Upon arriving at the airport the desk staff heard my name whilst checking in and called me over to let me know my Upgrade had been approved. There was a moment of huh? As I knew I had paid for it, however it wasn't that, my one class upgrade request had stayed in the system and I had then been upgraded into First... It might not have been a modern studio, just a huge fully recline able chair, but for a then young not so frequent flier who had never been in First, let alone in the nose of the Jumbo I felt like a King, the steak dinner I enjoyed to this day is still one of my best inflight meals (memories are great).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2011

Total posts 4

Straight out of university, 22 years old and first ever business trip, upgraded to First. Talk about a kid in a candy store - 1 month into my first job I was sent to Houston for training back when companies paid for Biz class. BA DC10 LGW-IAH. I was the only passenger in the First cabin so was smothered with attention and french champagne . I thought this was the way business people travelled all the time and have been disappointed for the last 30 years since!

I would say I had two that were my very best:

1. LAXMEL in the pointy end of a 747 on QF using AA points.   When I stepped aboard the flight attendant said, "Ah, you are our passenger." Yes singular and I enjoyed the flight on 24Dec without another soul in the First Cabin and the Business section behind was empty as well and the business pax all sat on the upper deck.  On the flight from LAX to MEL I did not see another passenger until the jetway in MEL.  The flight attendants graciously opened a number of wines for me and I recall enjoying them in the first hours of the flight and then after a snooze again hours out from landing.  Wonderful service, two spotless loo's all to myself.  I had the crew sign the flight manifest for me as testament to me being the sole passenger in the cabin.  

2. ZRHSIN on SQ A380 Suites Class using AX Membership Rewards transferred to KrisFlyer.. Thanks to advice from Executive Traveller I  knew to book an empty center seat so they could open both suites into a nice King size bed just for me.  The champagne flowed, the dim sum and obligatory lobster therm was delicious.  I have photos in my grey SQ flight jammies of my private bed in the sky.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Dec 2016

Total posts 2

our honeymoon back in 2001 flying LHR FRA SIN. Checked in at LHR and didn't pay much attention to the boarding passes we were given. When we looked, about to pass to airside, we saw that we had been seated 10 rows apart for the FRA SIN leg. I went back to the service desk and tried to politely express my displeasure that the agent hadn't even mentioned this to us when she printed the passes, it was our honeymoon etc.

The service desk agent couldn't have been more apologetic. She said "the flight's full, but I do have 2 seats together in business class...."

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 5

Booked in economy with Etihad. Was given an upgrade in AUH to Business because the cabin on my connection was oversold. This was about 3 hrs before departure. I was a Gold status at the time. 

1hr before departure business class oversold and because of my status I was double upgraded into first class on a 777. 

Paid economy and go their first class suite - not a bad deal at all. 

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 30

2 ‘best’ upgrades.  First was SYD-HNL on QF.  Economy to ‘upstairs’ on a B747.  Captain came to talk to us and said just to ask if there was anything we would like.  My Wife said that there was an ashes test match on in Sydney so when he contacted Sydney could he find out the score please.  For the whole of the flight there was a stream of hand written notes from the captain with the latest scores.

2nd was QF again, business class to F on A380 DXB-SYD.   No idea why.   But after 8 weeks travelling, did I enjoy an ‘Aussie’ steak sandwich and a beer?   My Wife also enjoyed the smoked salmon, lobster and French fizzy served in that rarified space.

17 Feb 2017

Total posts 17

Honourable mention goes to QF for upgrading me from Johannesburg to Sydney on QF64 from Premium Economy to Business on the upper deck of a B747 (my first time upstairs on a 747). 

However my best upgrade was my last international flight pre Covid in late March 2020.  I was flying from Chennai India – Singapore – Brisbane – Melbourne.  This was definitely not my original flight but with borders closing and very limited flights available it was all I could book at the last moment and ended up getting out of India 36 hours before they closed their international borders.  The flight from Chennai to Singapore I was booked in Economy on an Air India 737 which was completely full and I was seated in the aisle in the last row.  The entire flight an Indian passenger lay on the floor outside the toilet immediately behind me vomiting into a garbage bag the crew had kindly given him! I felt so sorry for him.  When I arrived in Singapore I went straight to the Qantas First Class lounge (which I think closed the next day) where I just wanted a stiff drink before boarding QF A380 Business Class for the trip to Brisbane.  The lounge host looked at me and asked why I was taking such an indirect route.  She said QF36 had been delayed by an hour and would I like to go straight back to Melbourne; yes being my obvious response but I told her I had checked luggage already booked through.  She said leave it with her and sure enough she managed to intercept my luggage and she booked me direct to Melbourne.  Turns out there were quite a few off duty crew in Business and after take-off one by one they were moved downstairs to First.  When the CSM saw I was all by myself he asked me if I wanted to join them to which I obviously said yes!  Descending into Melbourne the captain announced that this was going to be his last ever flight and gave an emotional farewell.  It was Captain Richard De Crespigny author of QF32.  I am a big fan of his and have read his book.  I mentioned this to the crew and upon landing in Melbourne he came out of the cockpit and we had a good chat and I got a photo with him as well as his autograph on my book (unfortunately not my copy of QF32). 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 346

My first comp upgrade was from Economy to Business on a flight from SYD-SFO ( I dont fly to NYC via LAX  rarely if ever) on United - A lowly Premier Silver back then (although even though my Premier  1K status has been renewed until 2023 who knows how I can fly and achieve it again) then, and it was early 2000s  - I wished the check in agent a Happy 4th of July.  That was it  and then she gave me an aisle seat on the 747 in business - back then the slumber recliners still very comfly, like United P.S. transcon Business, on a ful lflight - Don't know if it was the 4th July or an operational upgrade, but it was certainly nice !  Then over the years I moved to using my GPUS  on United to First on the 747, Lufthansa to First on the A380 and 747 and miles to First on Swiss on the A330/A340, and later their 777 A little of this is nice, and I haven't flown intercontinental much at all, usually (up until covid) in First on Lufthansa  A380, 748, Qatar A380, Cathay 777, Singapore Air A380/777, Thai 747/A380, Swiss A330/A340/777, Etihad A380, Swiss First (with business class catering since First seating but no official First service) A330/777 to/from Tel Aviv,  or paid in C  on Qantas A330/787 Oceania - Australia since Qantas offer very little First Class, In the US Transcontinental American Airlines First on 3 class aircraft A321T with Flagship First Dining Room and lounge benefits, United P.S  on the 757500 with RPU's from cheapest Economy Fare ,and more recently in Polaris 757/789, 787-10 Transcontinental. 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 346

I usually like being alone in Swiss First  - have seen Federer alongside - once alone in First Zurich-JFK on A330 - attendant welcomed me on board, she could see my connection from Tel Aviv, and said welcome to your private jet to JFK 

Forgot to mention All Nippon First 777   Narita-Washingtomn Dulles  3 times  UA award ticket  -really who pay for First?  And if you were paying for First more likely you would be on an uncomfortable private jet - private yet widebodies are only for the ULTRA  wealthy 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 54

Hi Craigh

That is a great book and I do recommend it as a great read if you have dome so. I had an earlier post but this one relates to domestic travel (had lots of up grades over the years whilst I was working for the govt)

This one relates to a trip up to Cairns from Brisbane.. got out to the airport and checked in (when you had a person rather than a machine).. explained who I was travelling with and asked to be seated together..was advised that the engineering manager had been up graded to business.. my response "typical".. was given a boarding pass 1A.. be was 1C. The boss caught up with us in the lounge (he was a senior ex public service).. Where are U sitting?..  our passes were put on the table.. oh s...t.. He went to the counter.. and got an up-grade (couldn't have the staff in business and him in the back) It was something that he mentioned in his retirement speech. 

It was one of many up-grades that Qantas (domestic) gave me over the years before retirement.

 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 356

As a regular traveler in my teens and early 20's, like most at that age, I could only afford to fly at the back of the bus.

On one of my annual Xmas trips to visit the family in England, I was returning back to Brisbane, via a 3 night stopover in Singapore. 

Checking in at Changi Airport, I was asked by Singapore Airlines staff would I be interested in helping them out due to overbooking the flight back to Brisbane.

For the 'inconvenience' of taking the later flight to Sydney and a Qantas domestic connection up to Brisbane, I was given $500 SGD, a $30 phone card to inform family of the delay (it was 2002), $50 in vouchers for food and drink and best of all, a seat in business class on the upper deck of the 747-400. 

I never wanted the flight to end. My first taste of the good life.

09 Apr 2017

Total posts 10

My one woman protest against Mr Trump was to not visit the US while he was in power, and Covid-19 has kept me in check since, so my upgrade story must be from 2015 or 2016.

The trip was Syd -> LAX -> JFK. I am not sure if I was QFF Gold or had just clawed my way to Platinum for the first time, but must have been on a points upgrade to Business. The flight to LA was as per usual, but as I was newish to Business, I was pretty happy. On arrival, we were told that the onward flight to New York was cancelled, due to reasons I can no longer recall, but in true Qantas fashion, alternative flights were being arranged for the huge number of people disgruntled by the cancellation. I would have preferred a flight that left ASAP, but it was not to be and I was put up for the day - with food vouchers - at a nearby hotel. Pragmatic in the face of missing my first night in Manhattan, I was now on a redeye flight.

Later that evening, in one of the AA queues, I was gazumped twice from going to the desk by people pleading from another queue to go ahead of me, or as in the second case, one of those gushy, entitled women who just rushed the desk as she was late for her flight - and to hell with anyone else. I was in the priority queue, but gave an 'OK' nod for the first queue jumper and an eyeroll for the second, to the counter staff to see to the others before me.

When it came to my turn, they seemed to be having a problem with my booking. Much checking and consulting and chatting between two of the desk staff - apparently in the kerfuffle the night before, my seat had been issued with two boarding passes and the other person had checked in earlier than me. I was expecting to be bumped from the flight, but they finally sorted something out and gave me a new boarding pass. Yay - they had given me TSA pre check. I thanked them and headed in, then off to the lounge. I was misdirected to the wrong lounge (I thought) only to discover that I had been upgraded to First, so got the First lounge perk as well as a great seat, food and service for the flight.

I wish I had noticed the upgrade before I left the counter so that I could have thanked the ladies who arranged it properly. I suspect that my no fuss attitude in letting people go ahead of me, and not huffing and puffing when there seemed to be a seating problem (I think my only question was if I still had a window seat!) stood me in good stead - it certainly wasn't my jeans and T-shirt wardrobe!

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1447

The best upgrade (actually I have few more since) was my very first upgrade when BA shifted me into Business class. And it was "the best" seat - aisle one immediately before toilet. It was BKK-MEL (if I remember correctly, though may be SIN-MEL one) flight and I was not sleeping before that for almost 24 hours including last 13 or so hours in cattle class from LHR to BKK. I was so tired that I fall asleep immediately after light went off, I skipped dinner and breakfast and was waked up by attendant because it was 20 min or so before landing. So it was my worst business class experience so to say - no lounge, no shower, no food, no even free booze not to mentioned the worst seat in whole business cabin! But it turned my flying experience upside down - when I walked down toward customs in Melbourne airport I question myself why I hate myself so much that I flying from MEL to LHR and beyond in sardine class? And I said to myself that I will never fly again in cattle class on any flight longer than 4 hr. It was 10 years ago and since then I flown many times (as least 7) in Europe and South-East Asia and never in economy or premium economy. So it was definitely my best upgrade because it changed all my flying experience.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Apr 2016

Total posts 18

It was January 2012, time for the annual pilgrimage to California for the corporate training event.  I flew MEL-SYD to meet up with my Sydney based colleague with a plan to travel  together and share the pain of SYD-LAX in economy.

We both had Virgin Platinum status so we jumped the economy line for the priority boarding line.

My boarding pass was scanned and gave that reject buzz that made my heart skip a beat.  Check in person asked me to step aside so I quickly asked "what about my colleague?, he's right behind me".

Virgin upgraded both of us to business class in the B777.  It was the old configuration of 2-3-2 but we had the "honeymoon seats" with the privacy curtain. A much more pleasant flight experience than we had been expecting and impressed a work colleague who said he would happily travel with me on future flights LoL.


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