I Received a Free Upgrade to Business Class on My Flight to Sydney Simply By Asking
I’m finally back in the United States after nearly a week in New Zealand. While I’ve experienced things over this past week that I could never have imagined, one event stands out the most. On my way back to the United States, I took advantage of an error fare offered by Delta Air Lines back in early November. You might remember that error fare. Delta offered round-trip business class tickets from Auckland to the US West Coast for just $900. Well, I finally took advantage of that ticket.
While, for the majority of the itinerary, I was booked in business and first class, the first leg of the trip was booked into economy, for some reason. I assumed it was because Business Class was full on the Virgin Australia flight between Auckland and Sydney. However, that turned out not to be the case. As a matter of fact, only two of the eight seats were full. Though I was upgraded to Economy X (essentially extra legroom), I couldn’t help but notice that, at the time, every seat in business class was empty. Meanwhile, in Economy and Economy X, nearly every seat was filled.
So, about three-quarters of the way through boarding, I stopped one of the flight attendants to inquire about an upgrade. I completely anticipated having to pay for any upgrade offered. I stopped one of the flight attendants and said, “Hi, I can’t help but notice how empty business class is. I’m a travel blogger and this is my first time flying Virgin Australia and I’d love to sit up front and take some pictures. If it’s possible, I’m willing to pay to purchase an empty seat.” I obviously caught her by surprise as she responded, “Um, wow, like right now? We’re so far into boarding. I don’t think there’s anything I can do. Give me a second and let me ask my supervisor.”
I pretty much accepted defeat and assumed that there was just no way the flight attendants could handle an upgrade this late into the flight. I wasn’t too disappointed as I understood I did wait way too long to inquire about an upgrade. Roughly three minutes passed and the flight attendant, with the purser following behind her, returned to my seat, directly behind Business Class. She explained, “Now, normally we wouldn’t do this but my supervisor said that we can go ahead and welcome you to Business Class complimentary just this one time.”
The flight attendant gestured towards the forward cabin and welcomed me to Business Class. I took seat 2F. As soon as I sat down, the flight attendant offered to move my bags from Economy X to Business Class. Already feeling guilty for even asking, there was no way I was going to let one of the crew move my bags for me. The crew held boarding up as I settled into Business Class.
Once I settled in, I explained to the crew that they didn’t have to treat me like a paying passenger and whenever they could get around to serving me was fine. I didn’t want them to feel obligated to treat me like a Business Class passenger. One of the flight attendants responded, “Oh please, don’t worry, we don’t care if you’re a paying passenger or not, we’re going to treat you right.”
The purser introduced herself, gave me a briefing on flight time, and handed me a fast track immigration card, headphones, tablet, and bottle of New Zealand water. I hunkered in seat 2F and got ready for the flight, which might have been the most enjoyable flight of the journey. Maybe I enjoyed the flight so much because I can genuinely say I received a free upgrade just by asking. The whole experience felt like a dream.
Before you ask me, “Why do you think the crew upgraded you?”, understand that I honestly don’t have a definite answer. The best answer I can come up with is that the crew genuinely loves their jobs and wanted every passenger to have an enjoyable experience. I’d like to think the crew saw some teenager from the States enjoying his time in New Zealand and said, “Why not, let’s upgrade him.” That’s the only plausible explanation I’ve come up with.
I’ll have a review of the full flight shortly. Additionally, be on the lookout for a review of Frontier’s Airbus a320 NEO, multiple lounges throughout Oceania, and my review of Delta’s business class service from Sydney to Los Angeles. Kia Ora!