I’ve got a bad condition. I call it upgrade phobia. While I don’t fear upgrades themselves, I fear missing them and I stress out over them even when I know I’ll probably get the upgrade in the end.
While I hate sweating out something as inconsequential as an upgrade, I do. I lose sleep when I see myself on the waitlist and find myself checking the status of my upgrade on my phone or computer every hour, like a crack addict needing a fix. At this stage in my mileage running career, I have not reached the point where I don’t care either way if I get the upgrade or not. I’m still enamored by the plush seat, higher service levels, and a meal.
Today my routing was relatively simple: Philadelphia to Santa Ana via Houston on Continental. I waited anxiously all week for my upgrades to clear and thought I would have no trouble upgrading on a Friday morning 5:40a flight to IAH on a 737-800 with 16 first class seats.
As the week went on, however, my upgrades did not clear and the number of first class seats for sale continued to dwindle. Yesterday, I received an e-mail notification that my IAH-SNA upgrade cleared, but I saw that the PHL-IAH flight was now zeroed out and I still in economy.
I actually stressed about the upgrade all day yesterday, even though the flight was lightly filled in the back and I had an exit row to myself with more legroom than first class (and CO still serves food in the back so it wasn’t even like I was going to even miss breakfast).
First class checked in full and I dropped to number two on the upgrade list this morning. I was one of the last to board and noticed that a seat in first class remained unoccupied. Turns out there was one no-show and a FA came back to fetch the passenger on top of the waitlist, who happened to be sitting in front of me. He also had an exit row to himself (row 20 with no recline) and declined the upgrade. She glanced down at her manifest, looked at me, and signaled for me to move up to first class. I gladly grabbed my bags and moved up.
Breakfast was great and I appreciated the free DirecTV, but I must say I admire the passenger who declined the first class seat.
To recap my condition, I have not yet reached the point of maturity where I can decline an upgrade when I have a row to myself (i.e. a better seat). Even more fundamentally, I have not reached the point of maturity where I don’t stress about a waitlisted upgrade. There’s something about the allure of first class that still draws me, even though after years of flying I know that domestic first class isn’t all that its cracked up to be.
One of these days, I am going to stop losing sleep over upgrades and maybe even turn one down when I’ve got more room to work and more room to stretch my legs behind the curtain. But I’m not there yet.
But perhaps I made some progress this morning. Turns out I have business near LAX this evening so I gave up my upgrade on the IAH-SNA flight in order to fly into LAX instead (I thought a post about using public transportation to get from SNA to LAX would be interesting, but just couldn’t stomach a four hour journey on three busses, the Metrolink, and the LA Metro Green Line). Now, though, instead of being happy that I’ll have an exit row seat with an open middle, a free lunch, a plug to power my laptop, and DirecTV, I am again stressing about whether there will be any no-shows in first class:
Anyone else dealing with a similar phobia? Maybe we should form a support group…