Gotta Get That Upgrade!!

I’m crazy when it comes to trying to get an upgrade.  I watch for special offers.  I count miles.  I’m looking for any way possible for me to get my bump up to Business Class.  Once I got an upgrade from Saudi Arabia to Seattle, WA, using only 1 mileage point for each direction.  That was such a find!!  I’ve gotten to the point that for me, I feel it’s almost essential that I get it on the 10 hour leg from Amsterdam into Seattle (or Los Angeles).   But, the deal is, I can’t afford to pay for a Business Class ticket from SA to the US.  Those tickets run $6000 (if you’re lucky) and up, per person, versus the approximately $1500 per ticket for, dare I say it, economy/coach.   LOL.  The problem is, with past business travel, etc. etc. I’ve gotten so used to flying Business or First semi-regularly, that when I have to head to the back with the masses, I just hold my breath, vow to be patient, and hope that I don’t have anyone with children within a 6 row radius of me.

I’ve had some ask, “Is it really that much better?”  Uh.  Hell Ya!!  My mom used to quote her dad, “Do the front and the back arrive at the same time?  If they do…”  Well, I say it’s how you arrive that can make all the difference.  She discovered this first hand, when on a trip to Thailand hubby and I were sitting in Business Class, and my mom was in the back.  Roland spoke with the head purser (because at that time, he was an airline employee), and the next thing I know, he’s going to the back to get Shirley and her bags up front.  When she got off of that flight, she stated, “it’s totally worth it.” She talked about the experience for a long time.  LOL.  Seriously!  Oh Yea.  And, they even gave her a bottle of wine because it was her birthday.

Let me give you an idea as to what I’m experiencing while sitting in the comfort (and I do mean comfort) of the Business Class cabin.

It starts when I arrive at my seat with the, “May I take your coat?”  And, from there it’s all good.   I sit in my seat, which has a big pillow, a quilted blanket, and a bottle of water.  The next thing I’m asked is, “Would you like something to drink?  And, I’m offered a tray with orange juice and champagne on it.  I get one of each.  Aaaaaaaaah Mimosas.  Then I take off my shoes, slip on the socks provided in the travel pouch (which also has a pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and chap-stick), put my reading material in the seat pocket in front of me, then I sit back and peruse the menu the flight attendant just handed me, which outlines my meal options for the flight.  Typically before you take off, they have come back around and taken your order.  The meal options were (my selections are italicized):

First Course (yes, there’s a 1st Course):

– Serrano Ham, served with celery remoulade
– Cream of Cauliflower Soup
– Caprese Salad

Main Course:

– Roasted Chicken Breast, garnished with olives, tomatoes, accompanied by sweet couscous, and sugar snap peas
Tender Fillet of Beef, enhanced by horseradish sauce, served with lyonnaise potatoes, and grilled asparagus
– Spiral Pasta, tossed with roasted garden vegetables, tomato sauce and herb ricotta cheese
– Roast Beef and Grilled Shrimp, with a deviled egg, grilled asparagus and roma tomato, served chilled.

Dessert:

– Fine Cheeses, offered with fresh fruit (Since Rolle doesn’t do desserts, I had him order the cheese, which I ate, and I ordered the Ice Cream Sundae…so I would not look like a pig.  But, they will gladly give you both)
– All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae (The flight attendant made this at my seat, asking me if I wanted Strawberry or Chocolate, Nuts, and Whip Cream)

I had a choice of several wines with my main meal; I selected the Wente Vineyards Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore California, 2005 and for dessert I switch up to a dessert wine, Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Porto, Portugal, 2003.

When it’s time for the meal to be served, the flight attendants come through with a warm towel for me to wipe my hands, and before they put down the tray of food, they place a white linen napkin over the tray table.

While I’m enjoying a meal that has the semblance of real food (because it is), the only noise I’m hearing is the hum of the engine, the clinking of cutlery against the plate, and the flight attendant asking me if I “Would you like more bread?”  Yes, please.

After finishing the Ice Cream Sundae, I leaned back, sighed, and picked up my glass of wine.  It’s at this point that I just wanna lay back.  And guess what?  I do, because I can.

Throughout the flight, the flight attendants come around with a snack tray filled with chips, candy bars, cookies, etc.  And, of course, my glass is never empty, unless it’s by choice.

Once we’re about 1.5 – 2 hours out from landing, they begin the Pre-Arrival Light Meal service, which starts off with them, again, offering a warm towel, and the choice of a Roasted Chicken Breast Sandwich, topped with pesto sauce and provolone cheese or the Cold Salad Plate, featuring smoked salmon slices, potato cucumber salad, and tomatoes, accompanied by bread sticks and fresh fruit.  Then they offer me some chocolate, along with my choice of coffee, tea, juice, etc. etc.

After all of this, when you finally arrive at your destination, you’re rested, your belly’s full, and your mood is good.  Unlike your mood when you have spent the last 10 hours crunched up in some unnaturally small seat, with some jerk behind you kicking your seat all night, or using it as a support device whenever they have to get up.

So, now you see why once you experience this kinda treatment, you never wanna go back to the back.

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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.

Comments

  1. That food looks beyond brilliant! It’s making me hungry already, and I have just eaten.

    • Hello Rob! Thanks for stopping by!! Yea…the food is pretty decent, it actually tastes good. See…the lettuce looks like lettuce…LOL

  2. Tell me the tricks to getting an upgrade. We haven’t been able to swing it since we got here (over a year ago now and on the company dime). We’ve been trying to book all of our flights through KLM to concentrate on one airline and maximizing the miles). I can’t tell you (well I don’t have to do I) how bad the long haul flights in economy are. I’m normally pretty even tempered but I become a completely different (and not in a good way) person after 10 hours in the back of a plane. There isn’t enough alcohol in the free world to make that experience passable.

    • “There isn’t enough alcohol in the free world to make that experience passable.” Still LMAO!!! It’s so true. Basically, I’m just accumulating miles…using the same airlines (Northwest Airlines), and keeping an eye our for specials…extra mileage opportunities. etc. I must say though…that I’ve noticed that KLM does not like to upgrade on miles. They wait until the last minute to open those seats up. So…when I say I’m anal about it…I’m relentless. For example, on my last trip back to the states, my routing is DMM > AMS, AMS > SEA. The leg to AMS is a 5 hour flight and it’s KLM. I pick up NWA in AMS. So…when I booked my mileage upgrade, they confirmed me immediately for the upgrade out of AMS and my return out of SEA, but could not confirm on the KLM legs in and out of DMM. They wouldn’t even wait list me!! So…I called every single day for 4 weeks to see if they had released any seats. Nothing. About a week before the trip, one agent told me they had space available out of DMM but that KLM hasn’t released it for upgrade passengers. I inquired even during check in in DMM, they had nothing, but they gave us better seats (as they should since my husband is a Gold Medallion and I Silver). While in the states, about 2 weeks away from leaving, I started with the phone calls again. And, again…nothing was available. Being who I am…I again asked for the upgrade at the counter…and miraculously they had it available. So…with all that said…I think you have to be a combination of flexible with dates (1 or 2 in either direction), relentless in the follow up/through, and rack up those miles.