LOVING My Middle Seat Near the Bathroom...


What could I possibly be talking about?

Maybe the back row isn't so bad if it's on the top floor of an A380 in Lufthansa Business Class on a 10+ hour flight from FRA-SFO. It's even better when traveling on a non-upgradable Economy Class fare, and all of a sudden, the gate agent angel forgets to look at your fare class, takes your soon-expiring UA paper SWUs, processes the upgrades for you and your fiancé, and puts you in Business Class five minutes before departure. Yes! That just happened!

I'm back in SFO now, but earlier today my fiancé and I were finishing up our euro-trip with a PRA-FRA-SFO trip on Lufthansa, with the final segment being on the Airbus A380. I accidentally booked the whole thing on a non-upgradable fare, even though I had planned to use United paper SWUs on it from the very beginning. WHOOPS! DARN!

Well, I figured I would use the typical frequent flier "try try try again" strategy anyways, hoping to get lucky. This morning when we got to Prague at 5AM, I asked the Lufthansa ticket agent if she could apply this to our FRA-SFO flight. She glanced at it, but she then told us that we would have to do that in Frankfurt, as it was out of her control in Prague. Darn. 0 for 1. Oh well. Off to Frankfurt!

We went to the Lufthansa Senator's Lounge in Frankfurt, got settled, and prepared for our confrontation with the Lufthansa agent. We went up to her, threw on some of the biggest American smiles we could, and asked if she could please apply this standby systemwide upgrade to our flights. She took the paperwork from us, and she immediately began scrutinizing.

Then she said, "I'm sorry, sir. This is not an upgradable fare. I cannot apply this certificate."

I played dumb: "Oh really? United told me W fares were upgradable, and my flight to Europe upgraded just fine (ignoring that it was not even a Lufthansa flight)."

She said, "I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do."

Me: "Could I pay a bit more to upgrade my fare code?"

Her: "That would be really expensive - thousands of dollars."

Me: "I see… so there's nothing you can do?"

Her: "No. I'm sorry sir."

Darn again! 0 for 2!

We had a great breakfast in the lounge, and then we went down to the gate. We were a bit late, and the flight was already boarding. After preparing my big smile and over-the-top-polite attitude, I walked up to the gate agent, "Excuse me, ma'am, is it possible for you to please apply these systemwide upgrades to our tickets?" She looked at them for a while. Then she put on her glasses to get a better look. That made me nervous… I hoped that she didn't put those on to check our fare code.

She said, "Excuse me one moment," and went to talk to one of her colleagues. Then the phone rang - she seemed really busy, which was understandable, given that the flight was already boarding. She didn't say much to us, but she started clicking around on her computer. We heard all sorts of beeps and squeaks, not knowing what any of it all meant. And then all of a sudden, we heard the printer… Out popped a boarding pass for a business class seat! Oh! I hoped that she wouldn't see the fare code or have a supervisor walk over before she got to the next one. Then she started writing on one of the certificates I gave her. "VOID" got scribbled all over it - great - once she voided that, no way she was going to reverse the decision. Then the printer made noise again, and out popped another business class ticket! She gave us our tickets and passports and wished us a great trip.

We were speechless. How did THAT happen? We quickly boarded before the agent changed her mind. My fiancé and I are both big travel nerds, and this was our first time ever on an Airbus A380!! We would have been excited if it were in Economy Class, but to be in Business Class was a real treat! We walked to our seats, saw we had the two seats in the very back middle, and we couldn't have been more excited about those two seats :-). WOOT! Flight report to come a bit later!


Congrats on the upgrade! You should have let me know you were in FRA. The LH agents certainly have the power/skills to bend the rules--I am happy you found one willing to do it.

Darren September 19, 2011 at 03:57 pm

Wow, congrats on that. And here I thought Lufthansa ALWAYS followed the rules. ;-)

Brad September 19, 2011 at 06:50 pm

Lufthansa has the reputation with being strict, but I have another story to go against that trend. I had a paper SWU printed for a friend who was traveling on a paid ticket. His wife was with him on an award ticket, and when he asked about the upgrade at the gate, they both were upgraded to Business, using only the one paper SWU. It was December, and the agent gave them their new boarding passes along with "Merry Christmas!"

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