Is the Best Upgrade Advice an ‘Upgrade Me’ T-Shirt?

First class upgrades are tougher than ever, but there’s real advice on how to get them. You can take the Wee Willie Keeler approach which is a very good one. You can hope for an operational upgrade.

There are also upgrade tips that make you look like an idiot like these.

Stories about getting first class upgrades by ‘dressing nice’ or ‘telling the agent you’re on your honeymoon’ won’t ever die.

So does what you wear influence your chances of an upgrade? Reportedly the Points Guy UK team thinks so.

I take this tweet to be in good fun, albeit ill-advised for someone who purports to cover travel to beg favors from an airline even in jest. You might say she was kidding, but she says she was only half joking.

This tweet isn’t getting ratioed but much of the feedback is (perhaps too) harsh.

The joke is actually on the critics just a little bit. It turns out that American was doing operational upgrades. Trusted Travel Girl reports business class passengers being moved to first, and premium economy to business. When faced with the task of getting the plane out on time there’s traditionally quite a bit of flexibility in getting things moving with the most passengers possible. That’s when ‘how you dress’ and how you interact with a gate agent could matter.

Recently though American sent a memo to front line staff reminding them to follow company-designated priority for cabin rolls. So the strategy could well have worked — up until weeks ago. The London Heathrow staff was historically known for going rogue in any case.

And indeed sadly it did not work.

Can’t blame a girl for trying, I suppose, even if that’s not quite how this works.

Still this wouldn’t be the worst thing to try at a hotel. Rick Ingersoll, the founder of Frugal Travel Guy, used to wear a TripAdvisor cap checking into hotels. That suggested he was going to spread his enthusiasm or disappointment on the site. He swore it worked, though I don’t know most check-in clerks personally would care one way or the one.

Now that the Points Guy team will be flying back and forth across the Pond, here’s a hint: those 7:30pm flights (and later) departing Heathrow are often the best for upgrades, especially mid-week. Redeeming miles or upgrade instruments may be necessary to secure the upgrade, however.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Except she deleted the tweet where she bragged about having elite status with AA, Platinum that is (gifted or earned?). With three tiers of elites above her on the upgrade priority list, she doesn’t have room to make that claim for an upgrade.

    What gets me is that it’s harder than ever to clear an upgrade on AA. They cut the number of SystemWide Upgrades for EXPs in half and many EXPs and CKs have SWUs that expire at years end because they just don’t always clear.

    So to claim that this was for fun when she put a poll up to her 100K+ Instagram followers, had TPG himself asking AA to upgrade her and then to play it off as in jest or for fun is BS.

    That the flight was oversold in J and PE is irrelevant to me. If you want business class, book it. Trying to use your claim as an influencer is junk.

    I’m glad AA did not upgrade her. This isn’t a gender issue either. This is someone trying to circumvent the T & C’s, then after the fact trying to play it off as a joke when it doesn’t go their way. Kudos to AA for not upgrading her.

    There would have been many very upset bigger spenders with AA had they actually upgraded her.

  2. The point guy site = corporate tools. They act like they are some free wheeling blog site but that is just a cover. Corporate tools with an awful sense of humor. Also if you check their comment section it is amazing the amount of posts saying shit like great post blah blah blah. No real user posts comments like that.

  3. TPG’s articles and videos make me sick. Recent hits:
    * “How I booked an $8000 trip to Tokyo for Less than a Sandwich”
    * “8 Ways to Marie Kondo Your Excess Airline Amenity Kits”
    * “How to Behave at an Airplane Bar” (If your clientele needs this, you need new clientele.)

    It’s mostly drivel, designed for people with the attention spans of gnats.

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