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Sneaking into First Class

Sneaking into First Class

Old Aug 11, 02, 8:29 pm
  #1  
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Sneaking into First Class

This happened on a recent UA flight of mine: A well dressed (business casual) guy was one of the last to board and seeing empty seats in C on the 777 he took one. He took a comp. glass of water and the flight took off. About 30-40 mins. into the flight the FAs came around to take breakfast orders, realized he wasn't on the list, asked him to move, which he did calmly and without complaint. I was in row 19 (front of economy) and saw this entire thing transpire through the open curtain. Turns out his actual seat was next to mine and we started chatting. He said he tries it all the time and it works about 50/50. He was very proud of a LAX-SYD flight he pulled it off. "13 hours of free business class" he said. Half of me thought he was brave and why not go for it, but the other half of me thought its dishonest and a little too much. He was a very smart and nice guy and I chatted with him the entire flight. He looked like any other biz traveler (maybe thats why it worked) he even had a Wall Street Journal. My questions for all of you are: Ever seen (or done) anything similar? What do you think of someone like this? Could this be considered stealing and therefore illegal? Could it be considered a security breach? I would love to hear any FAs views if you're out there.
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Old Aug 11, 02, 9:16 pm
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The only time I've seen this (and recognized it) was on a short ORD-IND flight. Again, a business-casual man sauntered into the cabin as one of the last people to board the flight. His eyes drifted down towards the back of the plane and non-chalantly swung back to the front where the flight attendants were laughing with each other. He slowly took the F seat directly in front of mine where he remained until we arrived in IND. Granted, the FAs could have see on the list that he was not supposed to be there, and may not have made a fuss about it because it was such a short flight with no service to speak of.

IMO, there's no other way to see this than dishonest. It's taking advantage of a service/benefit for which you have not surrendered appropriate payment; i.e. it's stealing.
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Old Aug 11, 02, 9:31 pm
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I jokingly asked once while boarding an AA SNA-LAS flight. FC was empty, and there were, maybe, 10 pax in coach. All I got was a dirty look...
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Old Aug 11, 02, 11:05 pm
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I'm really surprised that someone could get away with this on a long flight like LAX-SYD. Was he given any meals? Did he perhaps deprive someone who was legitimately in business class of their meal choice? Perhaps he was BSing about his success rate.

By the way, sometime within the last year, there was a news item reporting that former California governor Pete Wilson tried sneaking into a higher class than paid on a flight and was asked to move by the FA.

Kathy
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Old Aug 11, 02, 11:49 pm
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Yes, I'm also surprised he was able to get away with it on a LAX-SYD flight. UA F/As do actually go through the pax manifest when taking meal orders in the premium cabins to ensure that 1Ks have first choice in meals.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 12:34 am
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I'm surprised if he got away with it too. I suppose its possible that it was an empty flight and the FAs just let it slide. He seemed like a pretty honest guy, but then again I only knew him for less than 4 hours. Maybe he was the Governor's son
On the matter of stealing, purely for argument's sake: is it really theft if he's not taking anything from anyone? I mean if he's the last one on the plane then he's not in someone else's seat. The meals aren't going to be eaten anyways if there are extras. I suppose he is stealing any beverages he drinks, but on an intl. flight that doesn't make any difference.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 12:38 am
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dishonest..yes

If I was the FA I would have marked his file so he was watched more closely
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Old Aug 12, 02, 4:25 am
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I once met a person who always attempted to sit in Business on an Economy ticket.

They would sit in the Business class seat and fall asleep straight away and place a DND sticker on the seat. If they were woken they would state that they had aquired some aliment and tell the FA that another FA sent them up to sit in the seat.

The person said that it worked "most of the time"! I dont know how but I suppose most FA's could not be bothered chasing up other FA's to confirm the move.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 5:24 am
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This is clearly NOT stealing, and though it is sneaky and maybe a little dishonest, he is breaking no laws. Also, the FA's have a responsibility to confirm that passengers are in the correct class seat, and if they fail to do that, they are at fault as well as the airline. In this era of heightened security, it unnerves me that he succeeds 50% of the time.

Having said that, this guy seems to try hard to seem discreet and business-like, and I imagine there are business class or first class pax who appreciate simply being surrounded by the likes of him rather than people like Diana Ross or that REM guy or Woody Harrelson. And I'm sure he washed himself, as well.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 7:26 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">This is clearly NOT stealing ... </font>
It's not stealing? It's taking something that has a price on it (miles, money or certs) for which you did not pay - that's stealing. We've had other threads about this in the past where on some airlines FAs get out the charge card machine and tell the person to either pay up or move back. In all cases reported here, the person quickly moved back. If you were caught stealing a first or business class seat and you did not move back, I would certainly think the crew could have you arrested for theft (among other things) upon landing.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 7:30 am
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About one year ago I was sitting with another 3 people on FRA-STR (very short flight) in C-class. The doors were already closed when a LH FA came and asked to show the boarding passes. One person had to move to Y-class afterwards ...

I expect that the staff does check if the passengers are sitting in the correct class (airline, train). If the staff close their eyes, will they do so also on other occasions (indifferent service?, security?)!?
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Old Aug 12, 02, 7:49 am
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The operative word here seems to be "businessman". Who could be surprised at this lack of ethical behavior in the current climate? Probably a republican, as well.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 8:22 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by letiole:
It's not stealing? It's taking something that has a price on it (miles, money or certs) for which you did not pay - that's stealing...If you were caught stealing a first or business class seat and you did not move back, I would certainly think the crew could have you arrested for theft (among other things) upon landing.</font>
I've already stated I believe that it's dishonest, but I don't believe that it constitutes stealing except if they were to detach the seat from the plane AND take it with them!

As a separate matter, if you were asked by an FA to move back and you refused, you probably could be arrested but not for theft, for reckless behavior or disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct or something like that.

You're not really reasoning very clearly, nor do you establish any kind of precedent where courts have held that this practice is stealing. Have there been such cases? I'd truly like to hear what the case law is.

Simply saying, "is too stealing" is not good enough to persuade me, sorry!
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Old Aug 12, 02, 9:00 am
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One can steal a service as well as steal a tangible product. When one buys a first-class ticket, one is not buying a leather seat which he/she can take home now!

By sitting in a seat for which you have not paid, you are in fact stealing first-class service.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 9:15 am
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I don't have time to look up case law for you, perhaps some of the lawyers here could comment, but it's called theft of service and it's just as unlawful and criminal as theft of a tangible item (think about cases that have been successfully prosecuted for theft of cable transission services). Theft of service is when one knowingly secures the performance of a service by deception or threat. If you were caught stealing a F seat and did not move back, you could also be charged with interfering with a flight crew, a federal offense.

If you're still not sure there's such a thing as theft of service, next time you get a massage or a haircut or maybe have a hygenist clean your teeth, try walking out without paying and see what comes of it. Of course, keep in mind that a first class seat costs far more than these items - likely moves you into the grand theft category - so whatever happens is likely to not be as severe.

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