While waiting at the gate for an early morning flight from DFW to ORD, I noticed that I was second on the upgrade list. If you fly between these two airports you know that being second on the list gives you little cause for celebration. There is always a very high percentage of Executive Platinum and Platinum frequent flyers on this flight. Over a 14 month period of flying back and forth, I scarcely was upgraded and the cabin was always full. But that’s just the luck of the draw…or is it?
As I was boarding this morning, the woman in front of me stopped and surveyed the First Class cabin. She noted, as I did, that there were two open seats. Boarding was still in progress so the seats were not necessarily available. And even if they were, there is a ‘pecking order’ among frequent flyers that has to do with your status and when you checked in. According to the list, on this flight, I was second in line for an upgrade and the first was already seated in First Class.
So here’s what happened next.
The woman in front of me takes a side step and speaks to the First Class flight attendant in a low voice. Fortunately, I have big ears and they work. So, her voice was not low enough for me to miss what was said. She wanted one of the two remaining seats and asked if she could just plop down in one. He told her that it wasn’t his call to make and she would have to go back up to the boarding agents to have her seat switched. So off she went. In the interim, I informed the First Class flight attendant that I was next in line for the upgrade and showed him on my AA.com app. He assured me that if the seat was available that I would get it. I was okay with that and went to my assigned seat at 10C. Thankfully, that put me clearly in eyeshot of First Class. In about 5 minutes, the same woman sauntered back on the plane and helped herself to a First Class seat. My seat. I got up, calmly approached the First Class flight attendant and asked if he could help me to understand what just happened. He could not, and suggested that I take the matter up with the gate agent. So I did. When I got back to the gate it was clear that they had already been forewarned of my arrival. I very politely asked again if anyone could help me understand how I was skipped on the upgrade list. Well, it turns out that I wasn’t. The gate agent had told the passenger that even if the seat were available, as they had to wait three more minutes before it could be released, it would go to me. In defiance, she had just walked back on the plane and sat down in the seat anyway.
Upon hearing this, the gate agent said, “She did what?” And then assured me that they would handle the matter. With that, I went back to re-board the plane. To my surprise, by the time I was back onboard she had already been asked to vacate the seat. Three minutes later I was upgraded to 3F and settled in for a much needed breakfast!