Anyone remember how upgrades worked before FF programs? I recall two methods:
1) You were a regular at the airport, and the agents knew you. That would get an upgrade once in a while.
2) You stood in line at the gate for a seat. When you got to the front of the line, you would allows others to go before you, hoping that the flight would sell out. Then you would approach the agent. There was no FF pecking order for upgrades, so it was often first come first serve.