Misleading Travel Advice

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Nothing tends to make me shake my head faster than a mainstream article that gives misleading travel advice to the masses.

My “favorites” include the regularly circulating tips I see about how to regularly score upgrades on airlines that generally run along the lines of “show up dressed nicely and let the gate agent know that you’d really love to sit in first class”.

Yesterday this piece on the Huffington Post really made me laugh as its great pieces of wisdom included suggestions to:

  • Hint that there might be a tip in it for the agent
  • Stand around the desk and make small talk
  • Offer the agent a small gift in hopes that they will favor you over others

Now I’m all for being nice to agents… anyone who has traveled frequently can tell you that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar (as we say here in Texas).  But standing around trying to chat up a busy gate agent while he or she is trying to do their job is not likely to endear you to them (unless they think you are flirting and are interested in that attention).  And the suggestion that you offer to bribe them with cash (which was not within their rules to accept, the last time I checked) is just silly.

Listen… the bottom line to getting an upgrade is to know what that airline’s policy on upgrades is (including how to obtain them, what order they process them in, and what your chances of getting one are whether you do or don’t have status) and then do what you need to do in the boundaries of that.  Yes, purely operational upgrades DO happen, but they are a fairly rare breed on most carriers these days if you don’t already have status or are flying on a pretty expensive ticket (and let me tell you – THEIR idea of pretty expensive is MY idea of a mortgage payment).

The article does have a couple of good tidbits though about swapping seats (which I’ve shared – and more – previously) and how to possibly get bumped to a later flight.  But it’s hard to take those as seriously when mixed in with misleading travel advice.

The best tip in the article has been one that many of my fellow bloggers advocate… and that’s to HUCA (“hang up, call back”).

Have YOU tried any of the techniques that the article suggests?  Or have you been given misleading travel advice?  I invite you to share your stories in the comments below.

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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