It was New Year’s Eve 2006 (or 2007, I can’t remember which). There I was, in JFK airport enduring the most aggressive and intimate search because my ex dared put the new Asus laptop he’d bought on sale his carry on bag.
“SIR WHAT IS THIS?” a loud American security dude bellowed.
“It’s a laptop.”
“I CAN SEE THAT SIR, WHY DO YOU HAVE IT IN YOUR CARRY ON.” It should have been a question, but it wasn’t. At all.
“Because it’s brand new and I don’t want it battered around in the cargo hold.”
“CAN YOU DEMONSTRATE THIS IS A LAPTOP PLEASE SIR.”
“Well, it’s sealed in a package. I didn’t want to open it until I g…”
‘SIR UNLESS YOU CAN DEMONSTRATE TO ME THAT THIS IS A LAPTOP I’M GOING TO HAVE TO OPEN IT AND CHECK IT PERSONALLY. THIS COULD MEAN YOU FORFEIT YOUR RIGHT TO FLY WITH THIS ON BOARD AND MAY MEAN A SEIZURE OF YOUR PROPERTY.”
Cue many sighs and eventually him opening up the package at the x-ray belt. He handed the shiny white laptop over. The man pressed the button and, of course, the brand new out of the packed machine decided it didn’t have enough juice.
“SIR WHY IS THIS LAPTOP NOT FUNCTIONING?”
“Because it’s brand new.”
“DO YOU HAVE THE CHARGER SIR?”
“It’s in this box. The box you just saw me take the clear wrapper off, which also had the receipt taped to it, showing I did, in fact, buy this laptop not three days ago.”
The security guy, who admittedly was probably annoyed he was working on NYE, seemed to accept the undeniable proof the laptop was actually a laptop and finally let us through to the departure lounge. Which was full of people. I overheard an American Airlines crew member saying how there were far too many people booked on our flight home, and not everyone would be getting home tonight.
Cue an anxious hour-long wait to see if we would be landing in London any time soon. Reams upon reams of people flooded through the gate and boarded the plane safe in the knowledge their flight was secure. With only a handful of flyers left, a night in a crappy airport hotel with crappy airport food and not-so-crappy airport booze seemed inevitable.
Then it happened.
Our names were called over the Tannoy and we were asked to head to the gate.
“Oh hey there, Mr Ex!” a cheery supervisor said, addressing only him despite is both walking up to her together. “You’ll be pleased to know we’ve upgraded your flight from economy.”
She guided him through the gate while I stood there. “I’m with him,” I said feebly and rather pathetically.
She looked at my boarding pass and waved us both through, with the cheeriness only an American can have at 10:45pm on the 31st December.
An upgrade! How exciting! Admittedly it wasn’t worth the nauseating hour beforehand but we were looking forward to the delights Premium Economy could bring.
Stepping off the walkway onto the plane, a cheery trolley dolly took our passes, and we began to walk through business class. “Sir, Ma’am?” We stopped in our tracks. What now? “Your seats are here. In Business. Please get settled and we’ll be roun…”
Business? This was all so new and exciting. The chairs were huge with DOILIES, and no sooner had the cabin crew put our bags in the overhead compartment for us, we were handed a glass of champagne and offered a selection of snacks. WE HADN’T EVEN STARTED TO TAXI YET.
What ensued was the most comfortable flight of my entire life. We were given proper cutlery, a selection of meal choices and all the drinks we wanted. Plush and fluffy blankets and pillows were handed out so we could sleep, and noise cancelling headphones were on loan for the selection of in-flight movies or sound of whale song. No demand was too much, and despite the crew knowing we hadn’t actually paid the additional £1000 for the comforts of business, they treated us as if we belonged. For those seven hours we got a taste of the high life, and oh how I mean that ever so literally.
So that’s the story of how I lucked out and ended up in business class. Will it ever happen again? Who knows. Can I offer any tips of how to get a free flight upgrade? Any flight upgrade secrets? Not at all. But if it does happen, be sure to enjoy every minute of it.
Have you ever been bumped up to business? Let us know how it was!