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? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:17 pm
by ish2dachoppa
Got a quick question and wanted to see if my reasoning is accurate.

I normally take one or two round trip transatlantic flights a year, from the Middle East to the central US. For the second time in two years, I was upgraded to a first class seat from a business seat for one leg of the trip without any request from me.

The conditions were pretty much the same both times; busy travel periods (Christmas and typical summer travel), & a full passenger load on a larger a/c (A340-800 & 777-200). I'm a member of both airlines rewards programs (Etihad & American) & I purchased regular fare round trip business class tickets without using any of my reward miles, and I normally arrive early at the gate. I always travel in business attire in the cooler months or business casual in the warmer months.

In the most recent occurrence, the gate agent was calling passengers name over the gate PA system, and then my name was called. I won't lie, my first thought was that something was wrong, but the gate agent told me I was being upgraded. Im thinking that the gate agent was going down the passenger list, & the other passengers either weren't at the gate at the time their name was called, or I didn't see them talk to the gate agent.

Am I off the mark in thinking that if the flight has a sold out economy section, with standby passengers waiting, but there are open seats in business and first, the gate agent will first upgrade any business passengers who belong to the frequent flier program to first, and then upgrade coach passengers to business who are members, freeing up seats in coach to have a capacity flight?

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:26 pm
by sandyb123
Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
gate agent will first upgrade any business passengers who belong to the frequent flier program to first, and then upgrade coach passengers to business who are members, freeing up seats in coach to have a capacity flight?

I'm surprised this happened at the gate! Normally it would be at check-in / bag drop, which is still face to face for long haul on the whole.

Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
I always travel in business attire in the cooler months or business casual in the warmer months.

I would say smart appearance definitely helps, but then you say...

Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
the gate agent was calling passengers name over the gate PA system, and then my name was called.

Which suggests it was completely random.

Whatever the reason, good for you getting the upgrade. And next time use your miles to guarantee it  

Sandyb123


Ps It's an A340-600

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:27 pm
by mict
Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
Am I off the mark in thinking that if the flight has a sold out economy section, with standby passengers waiting, but there are open seats in business and first, the gate agent will first upgrade any business passengers who belong to the frequent flier program to first, and then upgrade coach passengers to business who are members, freeing up seats in coach to have a capacity flight?

  

I was on standby on Etihad but the Y section was fully booked. They upgraded some passengers in J and F to free up space for standby passengers. (Flying BRU - AUH - SYD)

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:03 pm
by AeroWesty
Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
Am I off the mark in thinking that if the flight has a sold out economy section, with standby passengers waiting, but there are open seats in business and first, the gate agent will first upgrade any business passengers who belong to the frequent flier program to first, and then upgrade coach passengers to business who are members, freeing up seats in coach to have a capacity flight?

It really varies by airline. Some will want to protect the integrity of the premium cabins, others will oversell the lower cabins knowing that they can always roll passengers forward.

Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
In the most recent occurrence, the gate agent was calling passengers name over the gate PA system, and then my name was called. I won't lie, my first thought was that something was wrong, but the gate agent told me I was being upgraded. Im thinking that the gate agent was going down the passenger list, & the other passengers either weren't at the gate at the time their name was called, or I didn't see them talk to the gate agent.

Could vary as well. The last time I was op-upped, I had no status on the airline, but was on a fairly high cost Y ticket, and was called up because the person ahead of me on the list had declined the upgrade due to only one seat being available, and him wanting to sit with his family. (They may have already upgraded all the people with status. This was on AA out of PDX, not exactly a hotbed of AAdvantage status members.)

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:09 pm
by goldorak
What you experienced is an operational upgrade (op-up). When a class of travel is overbooked and if seats are available in then upper class, then some pax are upgraded.

Quoting ish2dachoppa (Thread starter):
the gate agent will first upgrade any business passengers who belong to the frequent flier program to first, and then upgrade coach passengers to business who are members, freeing up seats in coach to have a capacity flight?

The gate agent does not decide for the upgrades. The back office and/or the airline IT system does.

Quoting sandyb123 (Reply 1):
I'm surprised this happened at the gate! Normally it would be at check-in / bag drop, which is still face to face for long haul on the whole.

It can happen at check-in but op-ups are frequently processed at the gate because the airline knows exactly what are the bookings in each class only after check-in is closed.

Quoting sandyb123 (Reply 1):
Which suggests it was completely random.

It is certainly not random. Each airline has its own rules to process op-ups and the algorithm is often very complex and confidential.

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:09 pm
by Lofty
Gate upgrades are not that unusual on flights that may have been oversold “Down the back” the reason being you do not want to upgrade people unless you have to. For example you keep accepting Y passengers until it is full, you then move J into F etc, until you can give your Y pax a seat.
The “SFU” Suitable for upgrade rules vary from airline to airline but for some still include being suitably dressed. Some will know how much you have spent on your ticket and others will know how much your annual spend is, this seems to be the way forward rather than being a member of their frequent flyer scheme.

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:22 pm
by global2
I was upgraded from Y to J on AF in 2001 on my way home (JFK) from CDG, but It's always been a mystery as to how I got so lucky that day--I have no freq. flyer acct with them, only Delta, and no status. It literally happened as they ran my boarding card through the machine as I was about to board. They printed out a new boarding pass, and voila! I'm in business! I got to sit upstairs, and as it turned out the flight was delayed at the gate for about an hour as they had to pull a no-show's luggage out from the hold. I enjoyed many glasses of champagne during that. Even on vacation I dress smartly for flights (that's the way I was brought up); I always wondered if that had anything to do with it.
Merci Air France!

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:45 am
by jumpjets
Quoting Global2 (Reply 6):
I was upgraded from Y to J on AF in 2001 on my way home (JFK) from CDG, but It's always been a mystery as to how I got so lucky that day--I have no freq. flyer acct with them,

I had a similar experience with VS on HKG-LHR. I handed the gate agent my boarding pass - he took one look and walked off - I half expected him to come back and tell me I'd been bumped off the flight but instead he [rather grumpily] said 'Upgrade' and handed me a new boarding pass for row 1 of the plane. I was slightly mystified but very happy.

RE:? On Unexpected Seat Upgrade At The Gate

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:25 am
by Loran
There's a third version: when you scan your boardingpass at the gate to board the aircraft, a little slip of paper comes out with your new seat assignment. Still the gate agents would have processed the upgrades earlier on, but not call any names through the PA system. This is the most common upgrade method I experienced with LX/LH.

Regards,
Loran