Watch a Self-Upgrader Get Dragged Out of Korean Air Business Class

You can’t even just change to any open seat in economy anymore now that airlines sell some economy seats for extra money.

Self-upgrading to business class has never been considered okay. It also rarely ever works. I’ve seen people try it and they’re always sent back to coach. Usually they’re a bit sheepish as they head back, sometimes offering some innocent-sounding explanation about how they thought it was the same cabin (no they didn’t!) and the seat was empty.

Passengers who refuse to move get the David Dao treatment. In fact here’s video of another Asian passenger on United being dragged off of a Shanghai – Newark flight after trying to upgrade himself to business class several times and stealing champagne.

Today video came out of an American on a Korean Air flight being dragged out of business class after attempting to self-upgrade. When cabin crew try to get her to move, she chants “US marshal! US marshal!” as though that’s who she hopes responds. Then they try to move her and she laughs that she’s wearing a seat belt so it isn’t that easy.

She’s eventually dragged down the aisle — cabin crew may be small but I wouldn’t want to run into one of them in a dark alley — and she’s strapped into a chair to remove her from the aircraft. The woman yells something about the airline, perhaps confusing North and South Korea, and shouts “nuclear disarmament!”

It wasn’t just appropriate to remove her from the aircraft it was indeed imperative to do so on the ground or else they’d have been dealing with her in the air where she might have been judged a threat to others and forced a diversion.

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. Maybe it was because he wasn’t gay and just though he was entitled to business class. Oh, never mind it wasn’t on Alaska Airlines.

  2. Those were not flight attendants removing her. I did not see a flight attendant lay a finger on the passenger.

  3. Something on the story here is as weird as the situation on the plane. The story describes a woman and talks about flight attendants. Well the person dragged off the plane is clearly male and I don’t think the guys with the radios are flight attendants.

  4. @Peter,

    The are two instances in the article. The first on a man and the second on a woman. The 2nd on is more entertaining. Take a look 🙂

  5. Watched it 2x. To me it seems she either isn’t entirely right in the head or was intoxicated in some way.

  6. @Peter & bangkokiscool You are clicking on the wrong video then. There is a video of a woman being removed today by FAs. For some reason there is a video of a totally separate incident on a different plane of a man being removed, which is confusing a lot of people.

    She looks like she is either drunk or drunk and took something as well. Not sure why she was even allowed to board in that state.

  7. Those are not Korean Air flight attendant uniforms. They are Incheon Airport ground workers OR police (can’t see the deal on their shirt). Immigration officers wear different color here (khaki/blue).

    And all they’re saying in Korean is “she’s heavy, come on everyone we can do it! OH GOD WHY IS SHE SO HEAVY?! Pick her up by the butt she’s not in the chair.” And done. Nothing mean or offensive.

  8. Can’t believe that people do this type of krap. Airlines should add a penalty for not sticking to passengers’ assigned travel class. If people think they can get away, then they will keep trying.

  9. Last year there was one old guy sitting in my first class seat on UA. He said he “deserved” it. You wouldn’t have believed the shenanigans to get him moved.

  10. Last week I went to my first class seat on United and a self upgrader was in it. I told him he was in my seat and showed him my boarding pass. He refused to move, put his headphones back on his ears, glared at me for a few seconds and then back to playing with his phone. FA told me to sit down, and I told her the guy was in my seat. Despite me having a boarding pass and him “unable to find his”, the FA was taking his word for it FOR 5 MINUTES and told me to step aside so others could board.

    How did it end? He ended up being in row 30-something. He then opined that he didn’t understand why I ‘deserved’ a better seat than him, and that it was the same as Rosa Parks being told to go to the back of the bus! Yep… he was a 18-ish black kid and played the race card. Unbelievable, but not entirely surprising given the way he was acting and the complete lack of response from the FA. In the end, I finally got my seat. As for him… he was REWARDED for his antics and refusal to leave my seat and upgraded to Economy +.

    I’m sure it would have gone down exactly the same had races been reversed. #WhitePrivilege

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