I love the winter scent, by the White Company, which is literally the smell of Christmas for me—and I’m obsessed with Christmas. But it doesn’t come in small bottles or anything you can really decant. So I have the room spray, and I spray it on absolutely everything: my cashmere scarf, full of holes, that I travel with, always; the inside of my suitcase; any piece of hand luggage; inside my shoes; my socks. I go to town with it. If I am going to die in a twisted, white hot, melting fuselage at 30,000 feet, I want to do it smelling of cinnamon and cloves. I want to do it festively.
For international trips, book a cheap coach ticket to a gateway before spending more for international business class. For example, fares to Europe from the Midwest or East Coast can be as much as $1,000 cheaper than similar itineraries from the West Coast. New York tends to have the most frequent discounted business- and first-class fares to Europe, so if you can get there economically, you can then fly the rest of the way up front.
“You can get earned and courtesy upgrades if you’re an elite frequent flyer, but an ordinary person, turning up at the check-in podium at the gate, and hoping to get upgraded — those days have departed,” says David Rowell, founder of The Travel Insider. “The computerized customer relationship software that all airlines have these days lists every passenger on every flight in terms of upgrade priority, and no matter where you are on that list, you’re not going to get an upgrade until everyone above you on the list has been given upgrades first.”
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Elite airline status isn’t quite as hard to attain as you’ve been made to believe. There are even ways to secure it with as few as three flights. Three! You care about airline elite travel status not because you enjoy the self aggrandizing feeling of walking to the priority boarding lane, but because if there are any free upgrades to give out when check in or boarding starts, it’s usually going to one of these people. In fact, airlines in the U.S. like American, Delta and United give complimentary upgrades on domestic flights to elite flyers, so it happens on almost every flight to someone. Here are a few shortcuts to elite status…
The way you look should tell anybody that you’re eligible for traveling first class. So manage to dress sharp and groom yourself properly. Since most people aren’t really concerned about how they look during long trips, a classy dressed traveler instantly draws the attention of people responsible for premium class sales. Wear business casual, act your best, and see the effect!
David Rowell, who writes The Travel Insider, notes that “it is enormously harder to get upgrades these days than it used to be. Well, correction, it is harder to get undeserved upgrades these days. The procedure for getting upgrades that one is entitled to has become almost 100 percent automatic and hands-off, and with all flights being full in both cabins, there isn’t much ‘wiggle room’ for people to exploit.”
It doesn’t hurt to dress as though you’re travelling in business class even if your ticket says economy. Because airlines work the assumption that not every passenger will show up they often overbook flights. That invariably means that a couple of economy class passengers get ‘bumped up’ to business. Ask nicely when you check in if there are any business class seats available and you may get to turn left when you board your flight.
In first class, I don’t want the little glasses of Champagne. I want a cup of tea. But the cups are tiny, so it goes cold, and I can’t stand cold tea, it’s an absolute pet peeve. So I bring a large mug on long-haul flights; it’s not fancy, but it has a photo of my village in the Cotswolds on it. I’m a mug fetishist: I normally fly Virgin, and they’re so into tea their mugs are the best—the biggest, out of anyone’s—but they’re still not big enough for me.
Why you want to fly it: Cathay Pacific’s excellent first-class cabins offer the full package experience, with everything from pre-flight spa treatments to Champagne and caviar service on board. The seats are extra-wide (at 36 inches) and extra-long (the bed stretches almost seven feet), and can be found on some of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ERs—including many of the planes it flies from its Hong Kong hub to such major U.S. airports as Boston Logan, Chicago O’Hare, LAX, and JFK.
Qantas – Bid Now Upgrades scheme is available on selected domestic and international flights by invitation only for passengers holding economy tickets. Passengers may receive an email from Qantas up to seven days prior to travel if their flight is eligible. Travellers make a minimum bid using a mix of frequent flyer points and cash, (non-Qantas frequent flyers can pay in cash). You will find out if your upgrade bid has been successful between 12 and 24 hours before your flight.
A longtime expat, Bagshawe estimates that she flies around 100,000 miles per year as she shuttles between the U.K. and her current base in Los Angeles, where she lives with husband Robin Nydes and four children. Her carrier of choice: Virgin Atlantic. “I’m quite a fearful flyer and I often think, when I get on a plane, ‘Are these the people I want to die with in a plume of smoke?’ she laughs, “And the cabin crew are so nice, always laughing. It has the best entertainment system, especially children, and they bring fab ice lollies in the middle of the flight, which is one of my children’s favorite things.”
Airlines reward their elite and frequently flying customers as those bring them increased revenue. So when it comes to cheap first class flights, these passengers are on the top of standby lists. To become one of them, you can simply join frequent flyer programs offered by all airlines. Strictly speaking, “true” elite clients get their premium seats in any case. However, you have all the opportunities to achieve that status with time. By the way, it works more effectively when you constantly earn points from a particular airline of your choice.
Senior Marketing Manager Douglas Cook left it to his mum to get mad. He explains: “My dad had been working in Australia for a month and my mum, my brother and I were flying out to meet him. Qantas overbooked our first flight, made us wait for another, and then at our change disclosed they had done exactly the same thing on our connecting flight. My mum lost her rag, as we were now going to be days late meeting my dad. In the end they put us on a Singapore Airlines flight in first class, which as you might imagine was lovely, and as it left earlier and made good time meant we weren’t that late after all!”
US Airways – International First Class consisted of six flatbed suites in the first row on the Airbus A330-300. International First Class was eliminated as a separate class of service in 2002, although the seats remained until the A330-300 fleet was refurbished any Envoy passenger could reserve an "Envoy Sleeper" seat in the first row for a small fee at booking, or for free at check-in if seats were available – ground service, on-board service, catering and entertainment were identical to Envoy.
When you fly coach class and there are any inconveniences that are undoubtedly the airline’s fault, you are entitled to compensation. Say, if your seat is broken, some onboard devices don’t work properly, your luggage is lost, or your trip is delayed, you can ask the staff to reassign you to first class. Just don’t break anything on your own in order to force the issue!