Want To Fly First Class For Free? Don’t Do This!!!

Filed Under: Videos

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I was procrastinating some readings last night and came across this video on YouTube. Watch it if you have a moment, otherwise continue reading below.


Daniel Fernandez is a relatively well-known magician in the online community. In this video, he explains his trick to flying “first class for free.” Apparently, it works “almost every time.” ­čśë

What is his trick, you may ask? Board last and if there are seats open in first class, sit down and pretend like you belong.

In theory, I can see how some less frequent flyers might like this idea, but as I’m sure most OMAAT readers are aware, this is a terrible idea. In the video, he seemed to get away with it (once), assuming it wasn’t a joke. I was relieved when he didn’t try it on United, though. They don’t need any more Dao-esque┬áincidents.

On every flight, the cabin crew receives a load sheet from the gate agents when boarding is completed. There they see exactly how many people are onboard in each cabin and which seats are occupied. If you try this, odds are you’ll get sent to the back or even offloaded. He also suggests that about 80% of the time there are empty seats in first class, which isn’t typically the case on flights within the US, due to how many people are eligible for complimentary upgrades.

Please don’t try this!

  1. Irresponsible writing. Seriously You should take this post down. I’m sure anyone would agree his doesn’t belong for any reason. It provides no insight , no information and talks about stealing . Your title is telling people how to get first class free and its theft.

  2. @Ryan did you actually read the post? Because it does not tell people how to get first class free. It says theft doesn’t work. And I do not understand how you could simultaneously claim:

    * “It provides no insight , no information”

    * “telling people how to get first class free”

    Those are claims which cannot both be true. If he told people how to get first class free, that would be insight/information. If he provided no information, he couldn’t possibly be encouraging stealing.

    But there’s no encouragement here. The suggestion is that ‘just sitting in the seat’ doesn’t work.

  3. Yep, the guy who made the video is just using it for click bait and the view numbers sadly show its working.

  4. Jeez.

    The entitlement mentality makes me cringe.

    Can’t afford F/J class? Go rot in Y where you belong.

    I hope he gets caught and thrown in the cargo hold. It’s unfair to those who worked hard and paid for their premium fares, and those who stayed loyal to an airline.

  5. As a long time reader, I’ve tolerated the clickbait titles so far, but the exclamation marks are really too much.

    Next up: capital letters- ’10 CRAZY TRICKS TO GET FREE TRAVEL!!!’

  6. WOW!!!! AMAZING!!!!! Man makes two bookings, prints two boarding cards, and refunds the economy booking under the 24 hour policy. Is the magic trick remembering to cancel it?

  7. Once a woman just behind me tried this, and was only confronted after the initial ascent, when she was eventually booted after trying to talk her way out of it. So these guys weren’t in the clear yet.

  8. This is possibly the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, the cabin crew has a passenger manifest so this “trick” only works if the flight attendants are legally blind. But I do have to admit that back in the day when I was a 13-year-old kid, (not that long ago this was 2012) I sat in premium economy by accident on a United flight from Miami to new york and No one noticed and it baffles me every day being more intelligent on the subject now since I fly 5 times more than back then. If he flies so much he should just get into a frequent flyer program and go from there.

  9. Sure this might work a couple of times but only if you’re a Dude-Bro. This is what normally happens even if you’re NOT TRYING TO SNEAKING INTO domestic FIRST CLASS.

    You’ve made the mistake of being born Don Cheadle of Iron Man 2+ fame and best buds of Robert Downey “Actual Felon” Jr. Another FA reports “there was a black guy with a hat on sneaking into first class”, you get mistaken for said fake “black guy with hat on sneaking into first class”, you get treated inexplicably like breathing garbage, threatened to get thrown off the plane, then get an apology when they find out you’re a celebrity, get mistaken for the wrong black celebrity (comedian Tim Meadows), offered a bottle of Courvoisier for some inexplicable reason and then they sit there pretending to be confused for the entire flight as to how they couldn’t find the ONE “black guy with a hat on sneaking into first class” when they have a boarding sheet of all passengers in each seat, and there’s only about 14 people in the FC cabin which is like, way too many people to narrow down? Hmmmm…

    Or you could be an American Doctor of Asian decent and they bust your teeth in because… well… United.

  10. @daniel this is such a fun post The video was funny.

    An empty seat in domestic first class on United Airlines from Houston to LAX ? The only time that would ever happen would be on a 7am flight the Friday after Thanksgiving. If you ever want a good shot at an upgrade think of a time when business people aren’t traveling. This week is the Jewish new year and there are almost always some empty first and business class seats to and from JFK and EWR. Especially the 2nd day of the holiday.

  11. Not first class, but in premium economy people DO sit in empty seats and get away with it because the FAs (usually the young, attractive ones everyone prefers) are unaware or just too plain lazy to do anything about it. Probably the same cheapskates wouldn’t try anything with a few “grandmas” patrolling the aisles instead.

  12. A woman sat next to me in PE on BA a few years ago. She took her welcome drink and tried to engage me in conversation so that the attendants thought she belonged. She was escorted back to economy.

  13. It may work on some crappy domestic flight where FAs are paid far too little to want to have a row with someone about whether or not they should get a free snack bar, but most international flights are very different.

    Take IAG: every CSD on BA and Iberia has an iPad with a seating plan showing the name of the person assigned to each seat, colour-coded to their FFP status level. They know exactly which seats are occupied and which are empty.

    This guy would stand a sporting chance of being arrested as he was kicked off the flight – and only sent back to Economy if he was lucky. (Not Lucky. Obviously.)

  14. Lucky, clearly this magician doesn’t travel often and others do not read the entire post before commenting.

    There is no way someone can get away with just taking a seat in First Class and not getting noticed.

  15. This wasn’t United. You would never get away with this on United. The second flight where he poached a seat was from Havana. I suspect it was COPA.

  16. No way this works on consistent basis or that 80% of time business class seats are available – at least for domestic flights on big 3 carriers. also, it seems airline employees are quite surly these days and would relish in opportunity to yell at or even expel a passenger for being in the wrong cabin …

  17. I recommend using a screenshot of the video title frame instead of linking to it, because you are just giving him page views, and allowing him to go viral so more people might try this nonsense and waste everyone’s time

  18. Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine gets booted back to economy when she tried to sneak into first class.

  19. It worked back when I was a kid. My sister and I started flying to see my father when I was eight and she was six years old. We’d get on last and take the empty first class seats and acted just like we belonged there. Back in the early 80’s first class was often a ghost town. After it worked on TWA the second time we figured we had nothing to lose. Of course there were times they caught on but we just acted stupid. Then they’d often just let us stay. But I always made sure I got my cockpit tour.

  20. 10+ years ago a buddy of mine and I boarded a flight really last minute, literally running down the jetway as the door was closing. Flight attendant told us to just sit down since we were about to pull back. We sat in the first row, 2 empty seats, figuring it’d just be for takeoff before being ushered back. Instead we took off and the same flight attendant proceeded to start serving us drinks. We had a blast as 21 year olds on the way to Vegas. It was my first time flying first class. At the end of the flight we figured it only appropriate to tip (what did we know, the poor guy ran out of whiskey thanks to us) so we gave him $20. Initially refusing, he finally accepted when we told him to just bet it at the tables. Nowadays I doubt this would ever happen, but it was amazing at the time.

  21. I think his assessment of domestic first seat occupancy is exactly the opposite. 80% of the time it’s full. 20% of the time it’s empty. That’s my observation at least, as someone who exclusively flies premium cabins.

  22. shame on people that steal and think it’s funny or acceptable. your actions speak very clearly of the sort of person you are and the ethics you live by. shame. shame. shame.

  23. @ redmond . . . and the others,
    You are absolutely correct in your assessment of those who often pack a carry-on and forget to include ethics. Failure to acknowledge “short term goals have long term effects” has tainted many individuals and groups including ex-Presidents, sports “heroes” and “stars.” Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  24. Anyone remember the day of the paper ticket? My best mates dad used to do a very simple swindle that worked and got him several first class flights. I guess things were a bit more primitive in auditing as he got away with this on more than one occasion.

    He’d book a fully flexible refundable paper ticket for First Class. He would also book the cheapest flexible Y class ticket he could find. So, he had two paper tickets. The way airlines would tend to process check in is you would go to the check in desk hand over your paper ticket, boarding pass issued. The paper ticket would be put in the sleeve of the boarding pass. At the gate the gate agent would take the stub of your boarding pass along with the paper ticket. What my friend would do is in between check in and the gate, armed with his First Class boarding pass is switch the First Class flexible ticket attached with the cheap economy ticket. Board. Fly First Class. Then send in the fully flexible First Class paper ticket which was as good as currency for a refund.

    And it worked. Five times. The sixth time the airline detected his scam (he always flew the same carrier) and refused to refund the ticket. If he’d used different carriers each time he may have got away with more.

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