Double upgrade at last!

We ended up arriving at SFO at around 9:05PM. I was a bit bummed since both of the previous flights showed as sold out, yet neither needed volunteers. I headed to the gate for my SFO-JFK redeye, and was surprised to hear the gate agent making an announcement asking for volunteers to take the EWR redeye instead. Despite having a confirmed business class seat I added my name to the volunteer list, since I’d gladly trade a transcon upgrade for a free ticket or travel credits.

I was surprised by the size of the upgrade waitlist, since there are only 72 coach seats. There were around 25 people waitlisted for business class, 11 of which were 1K’s (or at least that’s what I overheard the GA saying)! I noticed that there was only one person on the upgrade waitlist for first class, while there were three seats remaining. I figured that if I didn’t get a bump I might as well try for an upgrade to first class, since they needed to fill all the seats.

Eventually they announced they wouldn’t need volunteers, but I decided to stick around the boarding area anyway. I waited for most people to board (except for the five or so people that didn’t have seat assignments yet), and as I went up to the boarding pass scanner I asked “Are you by any chance selling upgrades for cash to first class?” The agent paused for a moment, started typing, mumbled something to his colleague about a 1K, and out comes a boarding pass for 1B! He says “Thanks for being a 1K with us.”

I was shocked, especially since at least half the passengers on this flight were 1K’s or up. While I wasn’t planning on actually paying for an upgrade to first, I figured I would give the strategy a try, and didn’t actually expect it to work.

The flight was great, although way too fast (as the Captain said, “It’ll take us a smokin’ hot 4.5 hours tonight”). The first class crowd was exactly what I expected for a Monday night redeye, and I got a few looks because I was just about the only person not wearing a suit with a tie. The guy next to me was a proud Global Service — I say proud because he made sure that I saw his boarding pass — and a surprisingly nice guy.

I had a snack after takeoff and then went straight to sleep. I remember being woken up by an announcement about half way through the flight asking if there were any doctors aboard, but I thought it was a dream, at least until we landed at JFK and the purser announced that all passengers should stay seated because paramedics would be coming aboard and going to the back of the plane. I never found out what happened, but there was a stretcher in the jetway and about three paramedics that boarded.

The best part of flying F was being able to use the International First Lounge upon landing while waiting for my connection. For the three hours I was there I only saw one other passenger, and this place is staffed with two to three people at a time — talk about a place UA could do some cost cutting!

I totally suck at my celebrity identification skills or else I’d have a story. The Global Services/Celebrity concierge answered the phone in the IFL and said something like “Ok, so she’ll be here in five minutes….. I’ll come down to meet her then.” Of course I have no clue who the heck she was, but I assume she was someone at least semi-well known. She came in wearing sweats and a sweatshirt, and sat in a chair reading magazines for about 30 minutes, before her flight to LA boarded. She was escorted to the plane by the concierge, so now I’m left wondering who she is.

Regardless, a most enjoyable experience.

Filed Under: Mileage Runs, United
  1. Congrats on the double upgrade! And for the hint about your routing ex SAN (as your ticket was originally booked I hear)

  2. I’ve been double upgraded a couple times under those circumstances. Both times I thought there might be a chance for a bump, and decided to hang out until the end to see if perhaps they miscalculated the load. Then right as I decide to board, I’m paged to the podium, and handed a new BP. I have to assume that when it comes to the end and they need a Y seat, they just look for the highest status-ed person that hasn’t boarded yet.

    Sorry you didn’t get the bump. I’ve had terrible luck lately myself, but haven’t even been on a moderately full flight in 3 weeks! Heck, last week I was on a flight with 50 people TOTAL on the whole A320! Maybe today will be different…. 🙂

  3. You need to start reading People and OK! magazines on your flights so you can improve your celebrity-identification skills.

  4. Nice work on the double-up! Despite all the WX-related IRROPS on Sunday, my trip from SMF back to BOS was pretty uneventful. I lost my routing via SFO but when I was rerouted through ORD I had the agent put me in full-Y, so all wasn’t lost. 🙂

  5. I got a double UG earlier this year (SFO-ORD) in a similar fashion; I asked about a UFC, was told ‘no’, but then was called back and given a free upgrade to F (from NC).

    I like the “stillness” of the JFK IFL as well. We were there last month, and for the first hour, had the place to ourselves. Not even any staff in there, as they were all over at the RCC. Occasionally, someone would come by to make sure the food & beverages were OK.

    The place used to be hoppin’, back when UA had flights leaving from JFK for actual international destinations! LHR, EZE, etc.

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