Etiquette When Downgrading Oneself, Swapping for a Coach Seat

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by gleff, Mar 22, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    I'm upgraded this evening DFW-PHX, msgleff is not yet, she's likely next on the list. But the flight is F0.

    She's got an aisle seat exit row.

    I would like to trade my F (aisle) seat for the middle seat exit row next to her, which I had had before I was upgrading, but which is now occupied by someone else.

    That is, as seems 98% likely, she doesn't clear into F.

    Proper etiquette in this? How would you do it?

    - Wait in the exit row seat until the occupant shows up, then hand them your boarding pass to go take your seat in F?

    - Ask an F flight attendant if it's ok?

    - Arrange it some other way?

    Etiquette advice appreciated, and in case it matters I'm flying AA..
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think you'd need to let the flight attendants know regardless, since they obviously would try to kick off the beneficiary of your F pass to the back of the bus otherwise.

    Chances are that the passenger would go along with it, but you never know considering that they might be traveling with family or what-not.

    I'd talk to the person at the podium before boarding and see what they say. If they can move the Mrs elsewhere in either Y or F so you can sit together, or maybe relocate you both to the first row, which might be empty but showing F0.
     
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  3. gleff
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    Would they? If they had my boarding pass, not like there's an ID check, and indeed not as though anyone ever questions me when I'm sitting up there?
     
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  4. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well what happens when the purser comes to address you by name? Or if you swap seats with a Jennifer or something? I was told you had handsome features, but I doubt she could pass for a Gary. :)

    I think passengers playing musical chairs in Y is expected, and I've never seen the crew care about it. But I would assume that someone moving from the back to the front would require at least a "heads up" out of courtesy.
     
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  5. gleff
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    That's all fair.

    So assuming the gate agent can't sort it out -- I mean, if there's an F seat then msgleff (an EXP likely next on the list, her ticket was bought seconds after mine and I cleared) probably gets it. I suppose the gate agent might be willing to swap seats for me with the passenger next to msgleff but more likely they're (a) busy and (b) trying to clear the list with folks next in line for the F seat, if they downgrade me then they would want to give that seat to the next person on the waitlist.

    I figure I'm best boarding, mentioning to the F flight attendant that I was upgraded, my wife wasn't, and would it be ok if I ask the passenger sitting next to her in coach to switch seats with me?

    Just wondering if anyone had any cautions, or better advice than that.

    Thanks again all!
     
  6. iolaire
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    I would ask the attendant for help broker the trade. If you or your wife propose it to the someone they may get all paranoid and not want to do it. At least with the flight attendant its semiofficial if she says "we have a first class passenger that would like to sit in your seat, would you like an upgrade to first class?" If in that case the passage might be sketchy or have a good reason for staying then you or your wife will not be in an awkward situation of sitting there knowing that someone refused to help you…
     
  7. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    Personally, I would be inclined to try to sort it out at the counter before boarding. Seems like otherwise you are going to potentially cause problems (moving carryons, disrupting boarding, etc.).

    Of course, I would just stay up front and send notes back to my wife about how I am too full to eat that second sundae but then, I am a bad person.
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    Are you sure you don't want to just give the FC seat to your wife or flip a coin for it? You're married and you don't need to be together 24/7. This seems to be a domestic flight so we're only talking about a few hours, fewer hours that you're apart during a typical workday.

    If not, I think fairness to the next FF on the upgrade list means that you should explain the situation to the GA and let the GA give the FC seat you don't want to its proper owner, the next elite on the list who hs earned it, rather than some random person who happens to be currently sitting next to your wife. I assume that this is what you would want to happen if you were traveling alone and were next on the upgrade list.
     
  9. Scottrick
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    First, I usually ask the GA if I can be moved back. If that's already been given away, I wait in my original Y seat and offer my F boarding pass to the lucky person. Half the time this works. The other half, it's either another couple that doesn't want to split up or the FA in F gets all huffy.

    DO NOT ask the FA in advance. The ones who are okay with it think I'm wasting their time and should just ask the passenger. The one's who aren't okay with it are better off not knowing or else they'll march the person back to Y and make you take your seat in F (this has happened twice to me).

    I had to do this a lot when flying CO last year, which autosplit our PNRs upgraded me separately. Fortunately UA always upgraded us both in advance or asked us at the gate what we wanted to do. We haven't traveled together since March 3, so I don't know what's going to happen.
     
  10. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

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    It sounds like the main roadblock to that is that Gary had booked the middle and aisle seat in coach but when he was awarded the upgrade, someone else has filled into his original seat. Your suggestion would now mean that they'd still be separated and neither would be in first/business. That seems like a worst case at this point.
     
  11. Scottrick
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    I don't have a problem splitting up, but my fiancee does. I would be happy to give her the F seat.

    As for who gets the F seat, the problem is usually that my original Y seat is now gone, so we can't sit together anyway either in F or Y. The only real solution is to give the lucky owner of my old seat my upgrade. As I pointed out above, I've always asked UA to pass over me and give it to the next elite passenger when I can, but CO seemed to take every opportunity to split us up.
     
  12. gleff
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    msgleff is not willing to just take my F seat. She wants us to be together...
     
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  13. jasher926

    jasher926 Silver Member

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    I would do it with the gate agent. Have the person paged and switch boarding passes at the counter. I've done this before when my wife and I weren't sitting together and it seems to work nicely.
     
  14. cvsara
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    I'd wait to see if she gets the up-grade at the gate. If she does, it's much easier to trade seats in F with a person who is in a 2 seat location. I have, on several occassions, given my F seat to the 'bride' who is all too happy to take it. You would think (hope) she would be a really nice F flier, and bring my friend, Jack, back to visit me a time or two. I have never understood why persons, most of the time the female, wants to sit next to the 'significant other' on a plane when they are together virtually 24/7 on a trip anyway. Sometimes there is such a thing as 'too much togetherness'.
     
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  15. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    I've done it often -- if Mrs DTWBOB and I both get upgraded, we're likely to be in different rows in FC and we get someone to swap with us and just tell the FA what we're doing once we're on the plane.

    Same with swaps to FC (which are a bit rarer).

    -- though in this case, Emily Post would say for you to take the exit aisle seat and send the person there to FC <lol>

    DTWBOB
     
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  16. rwoman
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    Last fall, I let my best friend have my upgraded seat in J (JFK-ATL) since it was her birthday. After boarding, I approached the purser and explained, asking if I could give her my seat. They happily obliged.

    :)
     
  17. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Wow, interesting question.

    The problem is that it's not clear to me that the upgrade is "yours" to trade. Essentially, you'd be skipping over whoever else is on the upgrade list in favor, potentially, of a non-elite, low-revenue passenger.

    It's possible that the gate agent or the flight attendant might not want to allow that to happen, especially if they have been dealing with a difficult non-upgraded elite. But they might also just go along with whatever you work out. Your real problem is if you have this discussion in the presence of one of those upgrade-eligible non-upgraded passengers.

    I think your best bet would be to arrange it yourself with the passenger and then, if you feel the flight attendant needs to know tell her that you've offered to let your "friend" (and, honestly, after an offer like this I'm sure he will be your friend) take your place in first as a present. The fact that he's a very new friend doesn't have to enter into it.
     
  18. gobluetwo
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    But there is no harm done to the "skipped over" elite, either. He (or she) wasn't going to get that seat anyway, so what does it matter WHO is in that seat? It wouldn't have been them in the first place.
     
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  19. Steven Schwartz
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    Hmmm - think I should be offended? I think my wife would treasure 2.5 hours of not having to listen to me talk about miles and points! You're a good man, Gary.
     
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  20. MSPeconomist
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    It would have been that elite if gleff had not requested the upgrade or if he had been able to code the request to be upgraded only if msgleff is upgraded too.

    The right thing to do is to give the upgrade back to the GA and let the GA officially give it to the next elite on the priority list. We complain about shenanigans when performed by airline employees, as we should, but we should not engage in our own upgrade shenanigans. Companion upgrades are a privilege, just as all upgrades are an earned privilege, but upgrades are not ours to give out arbitrarily. There is no useful business purpose in upgrading a random person at the expense of an elite who has paid for that upgrade by flying, choosing an expensive fare, etc.
     
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  21. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think the general consensus though is that the upgrade to F is the incentive for the current person in Y -- next to the Mrs. -- to give up their seat so they can sit together.

    Giving back the upgrade -- while noble and serving "the greater good" so to speak by making available to the next elite in line -- doesn't necessarily guarantee the desired effect. As someone mentioned, chances are actually pretty good that at that point both him *and* the Mrs would end up in Y, sitting apart anyway.
     
  22. perryplatypus

    perryplatypus Gold Member

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    I would mention it to the F Flight Attendant and also talk to the passenger in your old seat. Just hope the middle and window passengers are also not a couple!
     
  23. NYBanker
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    I've swapped a number of times over years across cabins (including, once, sickeningly from sq f to sq j...needed to sit next to a colleague) ... There's never a problem.

    Your only issue is potentially if the person in the middle seat is traveling with a companion. If so, they may take the upgrade anyway...or alternatively, ask the person across the aisle.

    I've never involved the FA.

    (On that sq flight, at first the guy said no to the swap...presumably he thought it was a j for j swap...I showed him my BP and asked him if was sure...and he grabbed it immediately and bolted to the forward cabin!)
     
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  24. MSPeconomist
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    Of course I'm aware of the logic, but it isn't right for someone to pick a random person to upgrade when there are elites on a priority list who have requested and earned the upgrade. If a GA did this, we would be sharpening the pitchforks and boiling the oil, so why is it OK if a fellow FF does it?
     
  25. wrxmom

    wrxmom Gold Member

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    So what happened? :)
     

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