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Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat -- your most unlikely successful upgrade?

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat -- your most unlikely successful upgrade?

Old Jan 31, 20, 9:31 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 5,553
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat -- your most unlikely successful upgrade?

This morning my flight was 5/8 booked in F. I was 8th out of 13 on the list.

In the last 10 hr or so, there was an equipment swap to an A319 (12 F seats) and 2 people magically disappeared from the upgrade list ahead of me without getting upgraded (SDCs?). I went from being 5 spots out of the money to making it with a slot to spare! Currently sitting in my first class seat (CPU too...)

What's your most unlikely successful upgrade?
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Old Jan 31, 20, 10:39 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: May 1998
Location: CT/NY
Programs: UA Gold/MM, Marriott LT Titanium, Hyatt Discoverist
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787-8, LAX-IAH. Was #8 on the upgrade list with only 3 or 5 seats open. Ended up clearing the upgrade, with gate agent handed me the new boarding pass.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 1:55 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, AA EXP, Hyatt Glob, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold, SBUX Gold
Posts: 841
SFO-EWR a year or two ago. During a holiday weekend, can't remember which one. RPU applied, but as typical with that route, I ended up around # 10-12 on the list by boarding time, with J checked in full.

Already resigned to the prospect of the next 5 hr in Y, I board and get settled into my E+ seat. As I normally do during boarding, I check the app for upgrade activity, and I notice 1 J seat had opened up.

Towards the end of boarding, I notice the GA coming on board to tell #1 on the list, who happened to be sitting nearby, that she has been upgraded. However, she declines after learning that there was only one seat available, and she didn't want to leave the person she was travelling with in Y. That's interesting, I thought.

GA then goes a several rows behind me and notifies the next few people on the list. I couldn't really make out what the responses were, but apparently none of them wanted the single seat either, for what I could only presume was the same reason.

At that point I pull out my phone to see exactly how far down the upgrade list the GA was at. She goes to the next person a few rows in front of me, who based on the name that the GA addressed them as, was the person just ahead of me on the list. They turn it down also!

I watch the GA look down at her phone/tablet to find her way to my seat.

GA: Mr. econ?

Me: Yep! (already with a big grin on my face)

GA: Come on up!

I still have the screenshot of that upgrade list with a big checkmark by my name. Benefits of travelling alone during the holidays, I suppose!
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Old Feb 1, 20, 5:52 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: The Great South West
Programs: UA 1K 1.7MM, Accor Group Gold
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Kind of backwards, but I was flying PEK-SFO, then on to PHX. While in the air on the PEK-SFO flight, I was upgraded for the SFO-PHX flight. Then, while still in flight, there was an equipment change to an RJ with no first class, and I was downgraded back to economy, and was awarded $250 in compensation for the downgrade. All this happened unbeknownst to me while still on the first flight!
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Old Feb 1, 20, 6:08 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 458
I was #8 on SFO-BWI with 11/12 booked. Ended up being upgraded when the GA did the “alternative” approach of paging people to the desk. I was the first one who happened to be at the gate, and she handed me a BP for 1A.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 6:17 am
  #6  
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IAH-FRA last year on LH. Upgrade from C --> F. Looked perfect till the LH strike hit and this was the first flight out after it ended. Showed zeros across the board and was told ... not a chance. Then right as boarding started I noticed one seat now showed 'blocked' in F and I asked as they were ready to scan my BP. Well ... turned out the EF block was correct and I got the last F seat as I walked on the plane.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 9:17 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: CHS
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EWR-BCN - flight was full, no seats in econ, polaris was full but nothing blocked. 1 person hadn't checked in for the flight in Polaris, Iwas #1 on upgrade list - about 10 min before boarding, Polaris went full/full and I got the checkmark

I scanned my new updated electronic boarding pass and sometime after boarding they chased after me to give me my new boarding pass and found me already sitting in my new seat
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Old Feb 1, 20, 9:34 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: SFO
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PEK-SFO. I was a Silver, flying on the cheapest possible ticket. Almost the last one on the plane, when my boarding pass was scanned it beeped funny and the gate agent said “UPGRADE” and shoved me into business class.

Unfortunately my wife was in the very back row, in the middle seat. I could not get the gate agent to even consider selling me the empty business class seat next to me, so I did the right thing, went back and sat next to my wife in coach, and gave some 19 year old kid my business class seat.

If she had been on the aisle seat, we probably would have swapped around halfway through the flight, but no way in hell was she sitting in the middle by herself for 12+ hours on a night flight.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 9:35 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1
My daughter and I were flying from JFK to LHR on Dec.28, '19. on Virgin Atlantic. Soon after we were seated in Economy the FA approached us, knelt down and told us we were being upgraded to first class. She explained that we were the fortunate recipients of the "seasoned traveler" program. As I understand it, Sir Richard Branson had heard of another airline upgrading deserving passengers and he thought it was a nice idea and wanted to do the same. "Seasoned traveler" was a nice way of saying old and as I was the oldest person on the flight and as they had two first class places, my daughter was upgraded as well.
I wrote Sir Richard a heartfelt thank you note that I hope he received. It was a lovely thing to do and I won't forget the kindness.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 10:27 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: San Francisco
Programs: UA Platinum
Posts: 190
SFO-HND

Was in Premium Economy (A) and #16 on the list lol. Was settling in when another passenger showed up with a boarding pass assigning the same seat I was already in. Handed my boarding pass to the flight attendant and about 5 min later she hands me back a boarding pass with seat 1D. It rarely happens but it all worked out for the 10 hr flight.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 10:54 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2008
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Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
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In 2010 I was flying with my family on UAL and I received a cpu during BP scanning. Happened twice and I gave the F seat to my wife.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 10:58 am
  #12  
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Several years ago flying SFO-HKG with a SWU applied. As my wife came to the gate, her BP beeped and they had given her the magical double-upgrade (but not me). I put on my best "hurt" look about being split up, and they gave one to me as well!
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Old Feb 1, 20, 11:15 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: IAD
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Back in 2009 two of us got IAD-LAX-SYD-MEL in Y for $700 so not upgradable with GPU. Despite that at LAX I approached the gate agent intending to ask about cash upgrades to SYD, but forgot to use the word cash. GA with no hesitation or saying anything handed me 2 BP in C (upper deck of 747) all the way to MEL. Got to visit cockpit at beginning of SYD-MEL flight, which made nice picture for that year's Christmas card. Two GPUs were pulled (on a K fare) and UA earned a lot of loyalty from me that day!

The return flight saw us get opups to C on SYD-LAX on main deck. Never was I so happy to have a coffin seat in the middle of 4 seats.
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Last edited by lotemblizej; Feb 1, 20 at 11:23 am
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Old Feb 1, 20, 11:43 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
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Originally Posted by returnoftheyeti View Post
PEK-SFO. I was a Silver, flying on the cheapest possible ticket. Almost the last one on the plane, when my boarding pass was scanned it beeped funny and the gate agent said “UPGRADE” and shoved me into business class.

Unfortunately my wife was in the very back row, in the middle seat. I could not get the gate agent to even consider selling me the empty business class seat next to me, so I did the right thing, went back and sat next to my wife in coach, and gave some 19 year old kid my business class seat.

If she had been on the aisle seat, we probably would have swapped around halfway through the flight, but no way in hell was she sitting in the middle by herself for 12+ hours on a night flight.
I had a very similar experience with my partner. Silver MP status booked on a UA ticket on AC metal, LHR to YYZ. I was upgraded into business on the overbooked flight due to my status. Sadly my partner was not. Like you, I ended up giving my seat to someone less than 20. I was disappointed he wasn't particularly enthusiastic at the prospect!

Took a lot of flack at work for not keeping the seat and swapping mid- flight with my partner, but we enjoy travelling with one another. And like your situation, she was in the middle seat!
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Old Feb 1, 20, 12:03 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by returnoftheyeti View Post
PEK-SFO. I was a Silver, flying on the cheapest possible ticket. Almost the last one on the plane, when my boarding pass was scanned it beeped funny and the gate agent said “UPGRADE” and shoved me into business class.

Unfortunately my wife was in the very back row, in the middle seat. I could not get the gate agent to even consider selling me the empty business class seat next to me, so I did the right thing, went back and sat next to my wife in coach, and gave some 19 year old kid my business class seat.

If she had been on the aisle seat, we probably would have swapped around halfway through the flight, but no way in hell was she sitting in the middle by herself for 12+ hours on a night flight.
A strategy to consider is in making seat assignments, assign the less likely to be upgraded the betters seats and assign yourself the worst / middle seats. You and your companion can decide on the plane where to sit but if you get upgraded, they have a decent seat (if you are willing to be separated).
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