I used to spend hours (I mean literally hours) listening to one of my old bosses bleep on about how the world used to be better in the 1980’s, all power lunches and suits and I have to amind he was probably right. Every one of those stories would consist, on most occasions, tales of he and his colleagues flying on Concorde London to New York in the morning, have a lunch meeting in the big apple, and then fly home that afternoon in time for dinner — all of course, set against a backdrop of the chinking of champagne flutes and complimentary Dom Perignon at 30,000 feet. But as I liked to remind him, those times now are long gone and seem as distant to us, in some ways, as Roman England or a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Concorde is long departed, never to have a return flight. No-one flies for business anymore, really. Especially thanks to the pandemic with bosses realising all can be done via Zoom in a more inexpensive way. And even if you do still get to spread your wings for business, it’s very much a bring-your-own-Dom policy, the class and elegance we once knew, now gone. But with every cloud comes the silver lining and that does mean that there are fresh opportunities to be had for the upwardly mobile Economy-class traveller. So here’s some tips on how you might secure an upgrade to Business Class.
Let them know if it’s your honeymoon (or wedding anniversary)
This does require a little commitment. Excuse the pun. But if you’ve tied the knot recently, you might as well reap some early rewards. Airline staff can be a formidable, forbidding lot, in general. But they’re not made of stone. Many companies allow front-desk team members to issue upgrades free-of-charge in exceptional personal circumstances — and the occasion of your honeymoon (or wedding anniversary) is often one of them. So make sure to glow with marital pride and the naivety of youthful love as you stride up to the desk, arm in arm, two hearts as one. Perhaps even a ‘Just Married’ sign around your neck would do the trick?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get — but do so with charm
The thorniest question when it comes to upgrades is one that even greek orators might have struggled with.To ask or not to ask? There is an element of ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ at play here, of course. But, at the same time, many airline staff say there’s nothing more annoying than customers badgering airline staff for an upgrade at every point, and getting antsy when their pleas land on deaf ears. In general, though, it doesn’t hurt to ask, if you do so with a warm, cheeky smile, a sense of understatement, and a very British deference. Sometimes, if there is room, the staff will offer you a paid upgrade — which often opens the doors to haggling and a bargain.
Don’t create a wild story
Like your teacher at the age of 15, they’ve heard them all before. All of them. So play it straight, and play it with a smile.
Dress well – Not Just For This, But Always.
This piece of received wisdom does genuinely help, according to industry insiders. If you’re going to be mixing it with those in business class, it’s important to look the part. This doesn’t mean sporting a your best tux or a full double-breasted pin-stripe getup from the heyday of Concorde and Thatcher. But it does mean however no flip flops (ever), no ripped jeans (unless you’re 14), and no circumstances tracksuit bottoms, even if they are some overpriced ones from Prada.