Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cash for class

Good morning fellow business travelers and democrats. Have you ever been on the internet before? Its great. There are items, concepts, some kind of primitive written language, basic structures, evidence of camp fires, and human bones.

I wonder how long it has been around? Probably at least 1 or 2 years. What I like most about the internet is how convincing it can be...without even trying.

Let me explain to you how the preceding nonsense is relevant. Before a flight on United, I get notified by e-mail 24 hours before take off that I can check into the flight online. The e-mail contains all of the important departure information as well as my upgrade request confirmation. It will also present you with sundry 'experiences' you can purchase for your flight. For example, for non-elite flyers, you can purchase premier boarding and security line access, and you can also upgrade last minute to economy plus or buy Red Carpet Club access.

Well, since I had flown first class from BUR to SFO, and since I had such an unfortunate experience on my flight there not being on the upgrade request list, I felt like I was in a vulnerable position. Sort of like when you explain your inner most fears to a grizzly bear who refuses to understand and eats your face instead.... and then goes online and trashes you on a blog. Stupid grizzly bears... trolling the internet and eating human faces.

So, I was sitting there minding my own HILARIOUS business when my phone indicated to me that the internet wanted attention. So I checked my electronic communiques and found that check-in was available for my flight to JFK from SFO. And then I saw it. The button of time past. "UPGRADE". I hadn't actually seen this button since United implemented its co-pay for upgrades when you use miles and its subsequent policy of automatically requesting an upgrade for you every time you book a ticket. But there it was, temping me with its buttonness™. I pressed it. Instantly I was transported back to 1992, which was incorrect, so I was offered a free voucher to be instantly transported to 2009, which I agreed to use, and so........I was instantly transported to 2009! It actually let me upgrade to Business with 15,000 miles. No co-pay. I was confused, excited, hungry, and bored. But I debated whether or not I needed to press it. On the one hand, I could be upgraded for free because I was already on the upgrade request list... but on the other, shittier hand, I could either have a repeat of what happened when I flew out to SFO or there just simply could not be enough Business class seats to accommodate my lowly Premier status upgrade request. The internet sat there and stared at me blankly while I mulled over the decision in ULTRASECONDS™. Even though the internet was silent, I could tell it wanted me to press that damned button and guarantee my upgrade right then and there.

I caved. I pressed it. I kissed goodbye to 15,000 miles (you don't give elite qualifying miles, just your mileage currency that you use to buy tickets) and was instantly upgraded to Business class. So I slept well that night knowing that my 5 hour flight back to New Yortk would be much less of a burden on my body.

The next day I arrived at the airport about 7 minutes before boarding was to begin. I breezed through security because of the Premier line and found my way to the gate, snaping a picture of this ad on the way.

Really? Breastcanswers? Are you sure? That is ok with you? Just put a giant sign that takes advantage of a word, that for a lot of people, reminds them of sadness and loss?


I watched the monitor for the 4 minutes before boarding to see what the upgrade request list was like...just to see if I really didn't have a chance of being upgraded without spending the miles. The upgrade list never came around on the monitors, so I thought that Business and First were full. "Ok good" I said to myself as I queued up on the red carpet lane to board my flight.

I sat down in the now familiar business class seat on the United Premium Service flight and waiting for the rest of the riff raff to board. The flight attendant handing me a glass of champagne and asked me to toast the widening gap between the upper class and the middle and lower classes... and to oil contracts. Cheers. The steady line of people boarding slowly thinned... then stopped. I looked around and noticed that 3 or 4 business class seats remained open. I started to feel a tinge of guilt. I quickly eliminated the tinge with a swift single knife hand chop to the tinge-generating area of the brain. But when they closed the door and the seat next to me was still empty, the tinge came back, and morphed into... I don't know... an explosion. I probably would have been upgraded without forking over 15,000 miles. Or maybe not? I didn't see an upgrade list at the gate... or maybe I wasted 15,000 miles!

I suppose there isn't much use in worrying too much about it anyway. The house (internet) won. It happens. And I flew comfortably in business class all the way home... which is a good thing. Your stress and post-flight fatigue seems to be so much less. I can't really say exactly why. It could be the full meals, the free drinks, the comfortable chairs, the extra space, the lack of gross people's elbows constantly rubbing against you, or perhaps its just the feeling of being able to partake in the excess of luxury for no other reason than that you are you.

Actually, I think its the telephones that serve no purpose.

Sometimes gambling against the internet is worth it, and sometimes you have to pay the internet back.


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