Virgin Atlantic has revealed the least convincing excuses dragged out by customers in an attempt to score a free upgrade.
After surverying its front-line counter staff, the airline discovered that Sir Richard Branson has thousands of "friends" around the world, based on the number of passengers who name-drop the Virgin founder when looking for a bump up to business class.
"Sir Richard Branson is my friend" and "Sir Richard Branson promised me an upgrade" were the two most common reasons given.
However, the survey found that some passengers can be extremely creative when trying to trade up from economy to the front of the plane. Here are some of the best lines trotted out by travellers.
- Manchester United lost today, I am really upset and need the space to get over it
- My wife is pregnant; I need an upgrade as it is a really stressful time for me
- My newborn baby has claustrophobia, she is in counselling and we really need an upgrade so she has more space
- I am Sir Richard Branson's dentist
- I have lost all of my money in Vegas but really need an upgrade
- We are getting married today (the couple turned up in full wedding attire)
- (At Tokyo check-in) I am a very tall Englishman and need some extra leg room
- It's a Sunday, no one flies on a Sunday so please can I have an upgrade?
- We are on honeymoon
- It's my birthday
"Every day we receive numerous upgrade requests but one incident that particularly stands out was a request which ended up causing an argument between a married couple" recalls Paul Dickinson, Virgin Atlantic's Director of Sales and Marketing.
"A gentleman, who was travelling with his pregnant wife, requested an upgrade for himself away from his wife as he felt he needed to time to relax due the stress of the pregnancy."
So what was behind Virgin Atlantic's rather unusual announcement? A simple message, really: "Free upgrades are rarely offered and the only way to be certain of experiencing what our cabins have to offer is to book the cabin you want in advance and there are often some great deals to be had" Dickinson explains.
"If on the rare occasion we do need to offer an upgrade, we usually prioritise our most loyal customers from our frequent flyer programme."
Ah, so it's the "buy, don't beg" ploy. To be fair, Virgin Atlantic pointed out its upgrades only cost $478 one way to bump up from Economy to Premium Economy and $2050 one way from Economy to Virgin's ' Upper Class' business class.
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