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Who To Upgrade First - Staff Or Passengers?  
User currently offlineDoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4804 times:

This is a true story, which took place back in April. The purpose of this post is simply to find out who should have been given priority in the scenario below:

It was a Sunday morning, and my friends and I (3 of us in total) decided we would like to leave our point of origin one day earlier than scheduled (we had tickets for the same flight, but on Monday).

Our tickets were Y, so full-fare economy in other words. The airline had informed us that these tickets allowed us to change flight times on the scheduled route without penalty, and therefore we were allowed to "stand-by" for any of the 4 daily flights between the relevant city pairs which we were ticketed on.

So, we turned up at the check-in 2 hours before departure, and informed the staff that we would like to stand-by for the relevant flight. No worries they said, although we would only be informed of any availability 30 minutes prior to departure.

Fortunately, there were about 5 seats left over, and we were asked to come forward to check-in. The lady informed us we would be moved up to J class. There were 2 other people waiting on stand-by; these were actually airline staff.

But just after having issued us with our Business Class boarding cards, a colleague abruptly told her that "you can't do that, those other two must be put in J, not in Y".

She had to take back the boarding cards, tear them up, and re-issue us with Economy class seats. The airline staff were upgraded instead.

Did she really make a mistake the first time round, or does airline policy vary on who gets upgraded?

Don't get me wrong, I had no problem with this. We were all delighted to get on the plane, but I'm just wondering what policy on something like this is.

The airline will remain anonymous! (well, until after I get some answer!  Big grin ).

39 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlinePlugger From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 83 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4758 times:

Just in terms of customer service the airline personnel should have taken what was left to them after paying pax have boarded! The supervisor or whomever it was who demanded that the airline employees be given preference to the CUSTOMER was out of line. It was not only rude but highly indicative of the kind of "me-first" attitude displayed by too many flight attendants working today. Too many FAs, especially the younger ones, consider the customer a total nuisance (sometimes they ARE) who gets in the way of their socializing in the galley and so on. The FAs (low wages notwithstanding, they didn't HAVE to be FAs) are being payed to do a job not fly around the world in luxury at someone else's expense. It's like the cretins who joined the army to see the world or get their college tuition payed-for then grouse because they got sent to Iraq. Stupid.

[Edited 2003-07-11 21:07:45]

[Edited 2003-07-11 21:08:31]

[Edited 2003-07-11 21:11:35]

User currently offlineM717 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 608 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Stupid, indeed. Hey Plugger, what the f*ck do your twisted impressions of FAs have to do with the question at hand?  Insane

I get the feeling that you ARE one of those customers who is a total nuisance, and gets the service that you truly deserve.

User currently offlineStyles From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Regardless of what happened with the upgrade and/or downgrades, it should not have been discussed in front of the passengers. The agents should have conducted the conversation in private and then undertake whatever course of action was deemed necessary.

User currently offlinePlugger From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 83 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4720 times:

He M717. You must be one of those flight attendants who hates the customers. Laugh out loud

User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4748 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4713 times:

This doesnt sound like a employee or customer question. If there were seats available for you in coach (which there was) then you don't get the upgrade, if all that was left was 3 first class seats, then you should get them before them employees, but if there is room for all of you, then unfortunately, the customer goes into the class that they paid for. This is similar to the mentality we see when coach passengers just come up to first and sit down, and say "no one is sitting here, so what's the harm"

But as said earlier, if it was a matter of you or them getting on, then customers come first.


User currently offlineM717 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 608 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4695 times:

Hey Plugger (artsy stuff painter),

Try reading my profile. Or can you read?

User currently offlineDoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 10 months 8 hours ago) and read 4681 times:


I'm not certain how many seats were left in each class (from the looks of it, it was pretty much 100% full in both classes).

I agree that if there were 3 seats available in each class, we should have been put in Economy straight away.

I just find it strange that she chose to issue us Business Class seats in the first instance, then reversed her decision after prompting from another member of staff.

Maybe it was because if she had issued us directly with Economy class seats (where there was space for 3), it would have meant having to "upgrade staff" to Biz class (where there was also space for 3). But would that have made sense? Maybe she originally decided to fill what was left of the plane in order of priority, but was then overruled/corrected by a senior member of staff.

Sorry, sounds a bit complicated! I was never bothered in the first place; as I said, we were desperate to leave, so it was great to get on a plane. I'm just curious as to policies regarding upgrades I guess.

User currently offlineGoingboeing From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 4875 posts, RR: 15
Reply 8, posted (12 years 10 months 7 hours ago) and read 4645 times:

Givent the fact that almost all airline employees are being asked to give up pay and benefits, the unsold first class seats should go to the staff.

User currently offlineJrlander From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1108 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 10 months 7 hours ago) and read 4623 times:

I don't think that it was an issue of upgrading staff. Those of us who fly non-revenue get seats that are available on a plane that no one has purchased. You purchased economy seats, and then tried to change your flight. If you had either changed your flight outright, not stood-by, or been bumped from a flight, then the airline should have put you in whatever seat was available. However, you weren't inconvenienced. You had purchased economy seats. The airline, in that instance, is only liable to provide you with what you purchased, service in economy class.

However, none of this should have been discussed in front of you. In addition, once they issued your passes, they should not have taken them back. In any case, this is less of any issue of the employees who were flying on a space available basis and more poor customer service towards you who purchased a economy class ticket.

User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (12 years 10 months 7 hours ago) and read 4608 times:

Paying passengers are supposed get the upgrades prior to any non-revs. Even if these paying customers were flying using FF miles, they still were paying for the flight (hey they probably overpaid in the past in order to get the mileage awards, so they deserve an upgrade). Now to issue upgrades to paying pax, then a few minutes later rescind them, that's out of line. Because the upgrades are done prior to boarding (non-revs are usually boarded and/or upgraded close to dispatch time), so all of the paying pax would have already been upgraded (as non-revs are normally the last to be upgraded and are the last to be cleared from standby), and what the gate staff did was not proper. Unless these employees were deadheading, they are supposed to get whatever seats were left after the pax have been accomodated. I have seen deadheading crewmembers bump paying passengers on several occassions, as they (deadheading crewmembers) are considered must rides, as they are returning to their duty city (or where they are supposed to report to next) and must make that flight (because they may be flying out that day or the next day if it's the last flight of the day). If the agent had already upgraded you to business class, they should not have rescinded that upgrade in order to put non-revs up there. Since there were seats in Economy available, those employees should have been given seats there. I've gotten bumped out of business a few times (I had listed myself on standby in business class, but once I was cleared off of standby, I ended up in economy) I never sulked about it, and there's been times I could have upgraded to business class from economy but wasn't (usually it is up to the gate agents, but sometimes the flight crew will upgrade a non-rev if the space is available) even though the business class section was going out practically empty. The gate agents were in the wrong here in this situation, and having flown extensively while an airline employee, the S.O.P. for non-rev travel is basically universal throughout the industry, with minor differences (usually fees, booking travel, and dress codes differences).

User currently offlineGreg From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (12 years 10 months 7 hours ago) and read 4607 times:

Actually, this happened to me a few years ago...and BABY I got pissed when they tried to upgrade the employee instead of me (it was actually a matter of no seats being available...not just wanting an upgrade from biz to first) I think after about five calls to their office...and numerous threats...they did the right thing. Apparently so, because my return leg..on a relatively empty plane, I was also upgraded from biz to first without even asking...

Actually far less of this would happen if airline employees were more discreet at the counter and onboard the aircraft (yes, yes, I understand that they may be friends with the cabin crew, etc...).

User currently offlineB747-4U3 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 998 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 10 months 7 hours ago) and read 4567 times:

I personally think that in this instance you were right to have been given cattle class seats.

The idea of non-revving is that you get given any spares seats. In this case, the bizness class ones were spare (for the simple reason that you booked and economy class seat and that is what you should get- unless the economy cabin is full).

User currently offlineJrlander From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1108 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (12 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 4518 times:

Non-revenue passengers aren't upgraded.... that's the difference that I was trying to point out. They get space available seats. If people are upgraded due to mileage, FF status, paying the upgrade fee, whatever, they take empty first and business seats. This situation was a passenger changing flights and almost being accidentally upgraded in the process. A economy class passenger who has not been inconvenienced by the airline and who has no FF status or miles should not expect to be upgraded, especially when seats are available in the class of ticket purchased. Non-revenue passengers are put in seats based on what is free, and some airlines board them from the front. But this is not a universal practice. Air France boards its nonrevs from the back, and technically does not allow non-revs in the front cabins.

User currently offlineSilverfox From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1060 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (12 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 4503 times:

I don't mind naming names!!

Last year my wife and I flew to Dublin form Heathrow on BMI
I informed them by letter.fax and phone call that as she was claustrophobic we would like the first available row, given that I was advised that this would be no problem, arrived at the check in 2 and 3/4 hrs and was given row 12!!
A bloody great row then ensued with the result that the only thing they would do is
and get this, once everyone is boarded they would ask people if they minded being moved, and only then would we get our seats changed, NOTHING would make this prize idiot listen or accept that they had not done anything to assist a passenger with disabilities and it would be his problem and fault having a hysterical woman on his flight I was then informed by the duty manager that if I didn't keep quiet and stop swearing (I called his airline and attitude bloody incompetent and not customer friendly) he would remove me from the flight.
However something must have happen because everything turned out OK.
BUT on the flight back, the bus class was occupied by off duty F?a who created a cacophony on sound during the whole flight, it was like travelling with a bunch of over-excited schoolgirls (and I include the male staff in that as well).

It would have been beneficial to BMI to have offered my wife a seat further to the front, rather than have staff freeloading. To cap it all upon landing they decided to block all the aisles with their luggage whilst continuing twittering to each other. I must confess that at this point my wife had had enough and used a few of the pieces laying on the floor as footballs in order to get away from them.
I never bothered writing to BMI about this as I felt that all the actions that I had witnessed would have been rigorously upheld by head office. So I will never fly BMI again based on those two instances, an upgrade on the way back might have sweetened the pill, but deaf ears I am afraid.

On the other hand BA were absolutely splendid when we flew to Edinburgh, as were Easyjet, who let us board well in advance of our booking in slot.


Bastard Moronic Institution

I now feel better for that!!!

User currently offlineUalisthebst From United States of America, joined May 2001, 79 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (12 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 4479 times:

Regardless of what are the "rules" are, my motto in business is- The customer always comes first! Lets not forget the fact that DoorstoManual isn't just an "ordinary" customer. It is not too common these days to see people buying full fare coach tickets. The agent should have recognized that, and without questions put him in J class before the employees. No questions asked.

I had a similar situation flying on a UA 777 a few months back. I was in Biz class (upgraded w/ miles from coach) and was trying to double-upgrade to First, however I wasn't allowed to. I even offered my miles to do so. I later found out that not 1 customer (all non-revs) occupied the first class cabin. Why myself (Premier) and my father (Premier Exec) were stuck in Biz (which I can't complain because the seats are fantastic) while the workers, who didn't pay anything, were sitting in first is still a mystery too me.

Anyone else out there agree with this?

BTW DoorstoManual- what airline was this? I'm very interested.

User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4748 posts, RR: 32
Reply 16, posted (12 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 4461 times:

while the workers, who didn't pay anything, were sitting in first is still a mystery too me.

The days of not paying anything to ride up front are loing gone. At Continental employees pay 130 bucks for riding Businessfirst flights and 50 bucks for domestic first. Coach is still free though.

Employees list for flights based on loads, give up vacation passes based on loads, and pay for travel based on loads. On your thinking, any passenger that paid a lot for his coach ticket should automatically get upgraded ?

User currently offlineMeechy36 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 319 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (12 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 4430 times:

At AA you would have only been given the coach seats. If you are a coach standby and all that is left is seats in first, you will be left behind while nonrevs who desire and are dressed for first will be accomodated. I don't think this is unfair, you paid for coach and that is all that you should be allowed to sit in. If you wanted to upgrade to the first class fare that should be allowed for the price of a first class ticket.


User currently offlineDoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (12 years 10 months 5 hours ago) and read 4377 times:

If you are a coach standby and all that is left is seats in first, you will be left behind while nonrevs who desire and are dressed for first will be accomodated

You'd have a hard time convincing me that that was a reasonable policy. I would have thought an airline such as AA should make every effort to accommodate their standby customers first, since they are the ones who have actually paid for AA service. Putting non-revs on a full flight whilst leaving customers behind is, in most cases, not something I'd agree with.

In any case, I'd like to make clear I wasn't "expecting" an upgrade here, why should I, if I paid Economy? It's just that the unusual situation stoked my curiosity on what the general policy is. It seems that it might vary from airline to airline, and from one situation to the next; much as I expected.

As for the airline in question, it was Aerolineas Argentinas from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, MD-88 LV-VGC!!  Big grin

User currently offlineAIR757200 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1579 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (12 years 10 months 4 hours ago) and read 4327 times:

So, if someone has a Y-class fare, regardless of price, they should be accommodated in a F/J class seat if they are standing-by? Absolutely not.

Some people come to expect an upgrade on a Y-fare, just because. I continuously point out to these same people that a Y fare is a unrestricted fare, not an upgrade fare unless an upgrade suffix is attached to the fare basis code.

This is not about customer service, this is about standing by for the non-premium FARE that was purchased. If the agent made a mistake, mistakes happen! If I made a mistake- I will correct it, even if it involved the above scenario. If main cabin is full and I have 16 F seats available, and no one on my list has an upgrade or F ticket... None of them are going up in F, unless they want to pay. Airline policy is that you are standing by for the same fare on an earlier flight. You are not standing by for a first class seat, regardless of what fare you have.

I agree with posts like Meechy36's. At AA, if person 1 and 2 (rev) on the list are simply standing by for a seat in main, and the cabin is full- they will not be accommodated in F unless they are willing to: apply an upgrade or pay the fare difference. Otherwise, person 3 and so forth, who may be non-rev's standing by for F, are entitled to the seat. And Yes, I and many other agents have done this countless times.

Nothing wrong with this. Fare policy is Fare policy.

User currently offlineCharliecossie From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 480 posts, RR: 9
Reply 20, posted (12 years 10 months 4 hours ago) and read 4305 times:

Aside from the obvious issue of check-in staff discussing the situation in front of paying pax, there's another thing to consider.
The flight was international (Y and J classes). Some airline staff (depending on their length of service and/or position in the company) are entitled to space available upgrades. In this case there was space available in J. Standby pax are entitled only to economy.
Another factor to consider - the staff *may* have had "must travel" tickets. There are occasions when an airline will issue tickets to staff that mean a paying pax will get bumped to accomadate the staff traveller. I once flew BKK to FRA on a 04/J15. That (AFAIK) is a higher priority than the directors of the airline that pays my wages. There are too many unknowns in this particular case to give an informed opinion except that the situation should not have been discussed in front of paying pax and the boarding cards should not have been taken back.

User currently offlineKKMolokai From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 760 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (12 years 10 months 4 hours ago) and read 4299 times:

I agree totally with Meechy36.

First and foremost, at AA if you have a full Y (coach) ticket, you can make any changes what-so-ever, without any penalties. An add-collect may apply of course, if there is an itinerary change. However, with a full-fare coach ticket, there is no need to standby, unless of course the flight you are desiring is sold out in Coach. If this is the case, then by all means, you would be able to standby for Coach seating on that flight. As a full-fare Coach passenger, you would be placed at the top of the Coach standby priority list.

Revenue standby passengers are accommodated from the standby list accordingly, based on actual fare paid, class of service, top-tier status (AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum, Gold members), and check-in time. Top-tier passengers and full-fare Coach passengers also have the option of purchasing upgrades if they so desire, based upon availability. Revenue standbys however, are not given complimentary upgrades to First/Business if they are unable to be accommodated in Coach on the flight they are standing by for (nor should they).

Therefore, if Coach is full on the flight you are standing by for, and all that is available is First/Business class seats, you will be passed over (and rolled over to the standby list for the next flight, if you so desire) and the next standby passenger "qualified" for First/Business will be accommodated. Often times these are non-revenue passengers. Again however, non-revenue passengers are not accommodated until all revenue passengers have been accommodated accordingly, and/or have been given the option to purchase an (fare applicable) upgrade.

We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
User currently offlineUA744Flagship From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (12 years 10 months 3 hours ago) and read 4277 times:


United has a strict NO DOUBLE UPGRADE policy.

Your beef should be with that policy, not the employees sitting up there. (It is unrelated to S/A travel).

The reason why United does not allow double upgrades is because it would allow someone on an economy ticket to fly in the premier product on three-class routes.

Internationally, the *NO DBL UG* policy (it is displayed on computer screens to agent whenever they are working a 3-class flight) is a sound policy. Someone who buys a $600 coach ticket *should not* be able to get a first class seat, which was on the market for 10 times that amount.

However, domestically... I think the policy should be re-evlauated to let good customers double upgrade, or give complimentary upgrades to the best customers. The price discrepancy between economy fares and first fares on most domestic routes is not as dramatic as it is internationally. Also, with the exception of premium transcontinental flights, the service on three class domestic flights in first and business is the same... the only difference is the seat.

A possible explanation of why United does not allow double upgrades is because a lot of its customers who buy business or first class tickets on an international itinerary often start off in a non-gateway city.

For instance, biz/first class pax flying from DEN-NRT would have to stop off in SFO. Giving these pax the same seating product between SFO-DEN gives United an advantage. By UAL's logic, an all three-class itinerary is preferred by the customer to, say, American's offering to the DEN-NRT pax of DEN-DFW on a domestic narrowbody, followed by three-class service from DFW-NRT.

User currently offlineKKMolokai From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 760 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (12 years 10 months 2 hours ago) and read 4231 times:

UA747Flagship, huh??????????

We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
User currently offlineDtwintlflyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 301 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (12 years 10 months 2 hours ago) and read 4208 times:

A deadheading crewmember (not always in uniform) will fly in first most of the time but NOT always- Usually if we are deadheading it means for whatever contractual reason we are not "legal" to actually work that segment. It has to do with our duty day limitations. Scheduled 13 push to 14 domestic and 18 International.. This time is from actual check in at the airport to brakes set at our last leg..... I know, it gets really complicated sometimes.......

Personally most of my times I have been in coach while I am deadheading. At some airlines it is contractual like our pilots deadheading to NRT to do A320 flights.....

Now as far as just non rev travel - we list for our flights for either coach or first (business intl) and as long as there are seats available up front and no one in coach who can upgrade, then the seats are ours. We pay for the segment by which class of service we actually get a boarding pass for.

Just because there are open seats up front, most people are not allowed to upgrade due to the price of their ticket...AND MOST IMPORTANTLY..our FA's do not upgrade ANYONE during boarding..we send you back up to the gate agent because they are supposed to handle all of that..there are very few exceptions to this and usually that is only if it is an elderly person or child alone etc... it is not just for the heck of it...
oh and UA744Flagship I understood what you said!

25 KKMolokai : Glad too see someone understood UA744Flagship.
26 Ualisthebst : OK, let me clarify some of what I wrote: I agree with what some are saying (you pay for "y" you get "y"), however, in my mind it still does not make s
27 Flpuck6 : One of the major points of DoorsToManual's post is that the gate agent had printed J class boarding passes and was just about ready to hand them to th
28 Jrlander : Flpuck6: You're totally right. Once the mistake had been made, and they had seen it, they should have just gone ahead and done it. It was not good cus
29 Jetdeltamsy : first class is an airline's premium product. when we give it away, we undermine ourselves. upgrades are provided to our best customers. those who spen
30 DoorsToManual : Well, many thanks to all. I certainly have my question answered now, although it does seem a contentious issue! Again, I must highlight the fact that
31 UN_B732 : My jurisdictional verdict: They should have discussed this behind the curtain, without the customer, as to not inflict any unsatisfaction with the cus
32 Post contains images DoorsToManual : UN, Absolutely no status whatsoever. In fact, it was only the 2nd time I had ever flown with AR. I'm not peeved, and never was, I just thought it stra
33 Caetravlr : Ok, I have no real discussion to add to this, because it has been thoroughly discussed. However, I must say, to any of you airline employees, that Doo
34 EWRvirgin : Silverfox, I'm sure if you think about it for a while you'll see that the airline can't simply accommodate every single request - most of all seating
35 Post contains images Jhooper : When I non-rev, I never let anyone know that I'm an employee. If I'm talking to an agent, I use code words that only Delta employees might know. I tal
36 Post contains images OH-LGA : United's policy is to bar completely double upgrades (upgrading from Economy to 3-cabin First Class on three-cabin aircraft)... and only allow upgrade
37 LH423 : I agree with OH-LGA. The boarding passes should not have been rescinded. It is my airline's policy to give stand-by passengers seats before non-revs (
38 Zrs70 : If you had full Y tickets, why did you have to standbye in the first place? You should have been confirmed on the other flight (unless it was full).
39 LH423 : Also, just to add to what I was saying. It's a naive view, but I also see it as paying customers getting what they paid for versus what we work for. A
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