How to Sweet Talk Your Way Into First Class

I’ve been meaning to tell y’all something…

I, a self proclaimed frugal chick, flew first class!

Now, now. I know some of you probably have about a million frequent flier miles, and this might not be anything of note to you. However, it was my first time ever being able to do it, and let me tell you something: It. was. fancy. I am forever spoiled.

Of course, the hubs and I didn’t just buy it outright. (Come on, you know me!) He had to sweet talk his way into it, and here’s how you can do it too.

Choose The Issue You Will Highlight

Maybe an airline wronged you in some sort of way. Or, maybe it’s your birthday or your kid’s birthday. Either way, it helps to have a reason as to why you’ve recently decided to upgrade your tickets.

For example, even though we had a very expensive trip home to the U.S. (for any new readers, I currently reside in Grenada, West Indies), we were flying on on anniversary. However, we also got a notice that our flights changed. Instead of a noon flight leaving from New Orleans, it changed to 6 A.M. So, that didn’t sound like too much fun, and it resulted in a really long 7 hour layover in Miami.

Stay Cool & Ask For A Supervisor

The hubs apparently wanted to make our anniversary special with a really nice breakfast in New Orleans, but all those plans went out the window when we realized we had to be at the airport at 4:30 A.M. So, the hubs called American Airlines, got a gentleman on the phone, and explained the situation. He said there was nothing he could do to help us, even though the hubs implied that his wife would be really really upset about a “ruined” anniversary. (Truly, I wouldn’t be, but you can’t blame a guy for trying.)

Not to be deterred, the hubs asked for a supervisor. I think it was good he gave the initial representative some respect though rather than calling and immediately asking for a supervisor, which might not have worked as well.

Just Ask Outright

After re-explaining the situation to a supervisor and being told again there was nothing they could do, the hubs realized that they were looking for alternate flights, which really isn’t what we needed. So, he finally just outright asked (albeit very sweetly) if they would consider a first class upgrade since they switched around our flights.

While they didn’t just give it to us, they did offer to waive the $150 each change fee, making an upgrade $300 instead of $600.

Stall A Little

I really wasn’t interested in spending $300 on upgrades. Picture the hubs mouthing three-hundred-dollars while talking on the phone and me shaking my head vehemently. So, he stalled a little and said it was a bit more than he thought it would be, and asked if she was sure that was the lowest they could do. Amazingly, out of nowhere, she said she could do it for $200 or $100 per ticket, and the hubs took out the ol’ debit card and upgraded right there.

Give Thanks

I was so excited, I went to thank AA on twitter:

Honestly, I really feel that it was worth the $200. Any other time, I probably would have just sat in coach, but it was a really long international flight. We flew first class the whole way on both legs of the flight, got free drinks, and a surprisingly good dinner. I also had enough room to curl up in a little ball right there on the seat, and the 6’2″ hubs really enjoyed the leg room.

This experience got us really interested in credit card churning and all the fabulous bloggers out there who fly around the world for free. Maybe someday, we can do a post about that!

Have you ever flown first class? Have any of you ever sweet talked your way into an upgrade?

Oh, and P.S.

Here’s a post about our 3 year anniversary milestones, and here’s picture of us on our anniversary in the airport:

Cheers!

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford aka "Cat" is a personal finance freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. To learn more about her writing services, please visit her Hire Me page or e-mail her at Cat[at]BudgetBlonde[dot]com. Follow her on Google + to get all the latest updates.

Lovely comments:

  1. Haha, nice. I’ve never flown business or first class, but I have flown on a corporate jet, and that’s a heck of an experience. (And one that I’m very glad I didn’t foot the bill for.)

    Glad you guys had a great anniversary.

  2. That’s fantastic! I can definitely see $200 being worthwhile, especially if it was for both ways. Usually the premium is HUGE so not worthwhile to me. I have flown first class once and it was fantastic. I was flying standby, as a family friend is a pilot and let me use a flight pass. It was definitely nice.

  3. Yeah, depending on the length of flight I would say it’s worth it. I’ve only flown first class by some freak accident, like not enough room and coach so I got bumped up. But I think that’s only been like twice. It’s hard to go back to coach after that. :)

  4. We’ve never flown first class, but for only an extra $200 I would seriously consider it. We did spring for a suite on our cruise last year for our tenth anniversary. I know some might scoff at it, but we got a really good deal and was only a few hundred dollars more. It was totally worth it.

  5. That’s awesome! Luckily my dad worked for American and I inherited his benefits. I get to fly first class whenever there is a seat open. I love American, and yes, the food is surprisingly good!

  6. I want to be upgraded sooo bad! I have heard that dressing smartly and travelling alone improves your chances of being upgraded… I’m flying to the UK on Thursday so I shall definitely try my luck!

  7. When I was flying back and forth to the UK for work 10 years ago some friends suggested to me that I ask for an upgrade since the flight was 8 hours one way. I finally got up the courage to do it. When I was checking in with Air Canada the check in desk was very quiet and the man at the desk was very nice. So I asked him if there was any chance since I had been flying alot (but not enough that my frequent flyer card qualified). He smiled and asked me to ask the ladies at the gate. So when I was sitting at the gate and they were calling out people’s names as they always do, I went up and asked. They said maybe, we will let you know at the last minute. At the last minute they upgraded me to the second row of first class. I was like a kid at Christmas. i couldn’t stop bouncing around in my leather cushy seat. I kept playing with the headphones and looking around at everyone. The professor beside me told me that some of the people sitting with us paid $20K per seat. I didn’t tell him I got upgraded. The meal was lovely and the flight attendant even served me 2 pieces of chocolate cheesecake. it was an overnight flight, but I don’t think I even got a minute of sleep.

  8. My sister somehow got a first class upgrade on a flight out of New York to Germany. I’m going to have to ask her more about that, it seems like some people have tricks similar to yours where they are able to kind of “sweet talk” your way into a better deal. I have never been in first class so it would be fun to do it some day, especially if I can get it discounted ;)

  9. I’ve never flown first class or tried for an upgrade. Maybe next time something goes wrong, or I’m on a long flight, I’ll ask for the upgrade. Nothing lost by trying. Congrats on your $200 upgrade. I’d say that’s totally worth it.

  10. First class isn’t worth it when you have to pay. But when you can get it for free its totally worth it!

    Last year I signed up for 2 American airlines cards(visa and amex) and got 75k each. We got two first class round trip tickets from sd to Hawaii. Picture me sipping on mai taI’s :)

  11. Bichon Frise says:

    Don’t forget about the nibble! Like when they are REALLY desperate to bump people. Agree on the dollar amount and then say, “you know, it would be really great if you could put me in F on the next flight.” Have your prioritized list and start going down it. You usually get just about everything you ask for. And one thing is for sure, if you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

    Wait until you try a real First Class product! Domestic F is nothing to write home about.

  12. My daughter is going to Europe for 3 months, starting in April. I’m encouraging her to read your post. Good ideas!

  13. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    I’ve travelled a few times on F class and it was rare that I paid much extra or anything at all. For flights that are overseas I do my best to travel in F class. I’m very tall for a woman so the extra legroom is like gold to me. Plus I love it when they hand you the warm hand towels to wipe your face during the flight ;)

  14. Nice! I’ve never flown first class. But I’m with you…I’d like to join all the credit card savvy bloggers who use their rewards to explore the planet in style.

  15. I’ve flown business class a lot, but never first, one day! Looks like a great anniversary!

  16. For $200 I would definitely take it! It would be a once in a lifetime thing :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] Essentially, it depends on how much you want to spend and what “budget” means to you. For some people, it could mean booking a three star hotel instead of a five star one. For others, it could mean flying standby and camping in a tent in a National Park. For me, it really is a combination of both. I really enjoy mixing in minimal and nice experiences whenever I go on vacation (remember that time I sweet talked my way into first class?) […]

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