Jenny Hewett needs those reward points, and she’ll travel to great lengths to get them.
If I were to accumulate the hours I have fallen asleep watching movies on a plane, I’ve probably wasted years of my life. From a young age, travel has been something of a routine, but since I moved to this city more than five years ago, I’ve done more flying than ever. Living in a place with more disposable income than most means that we have the leisure to spend our hard-earned cash on holidays, and airline reward schemes are a no-brainer. But I have a confession. I am a flying snob and so are most of my friends. It wouldn’t be a regular week without seeing at least one Business Class lounge check-in pop up on my Facebook news feed from Dubai-based jet-setters. And just like them, I anticipate an upgrade each time I set foot in the airport.
But I promise this snobbery is through no fault of my own. You see, I embarked on my flying career in reverse. Think of me as the Benjamin Button of air travel. As the daughter of diplomats, I had the misfortune (and believe me when I call it that) of travelling in the front of the plane more often than not from the age of eight. As a result, like a vampire, you develop an incurable thirst for luxury and high standards for air travel that simply cannot be maintained as an adult unless you’re related to royalty. Or can they?
Recently, a man, perhaps slightly unhinged, made news headlines after flying to Australia for one day to earn reward points. I can empathise. These days I go to great lengths to ensure I have enough to upgrade on long-haul flights and if this includes paying up to double for ticket prices to remain loyal to my chosen carrier and have those precious points in the bag, I’m all about it. Reward points are numerical bundles of joy – until they deplete, at which stage it’s time to get extra crafty.
As it stands, I estimate the number of times I’ve been randomly upgraded on a flight to be around the 15 mark. My family still tease me about one occasion, when as a 12-year-old, I was upgraded while my grandmother withered away in cattle class (I swear to this day that I did offer her my seat, but she refused). This was perhaps the driving force behind my decision years later to give my upgraded seat to a male friend while returning from holiday. But the best thing about being moved to the front is rubbing it in the face of full-fare Business Class paying passengers. One time I was approached in my economy seat by ground staff and escorted Business, where I went about fluffing my seat (and hair) and later ordering every meal, cheese plate and dessert on the menu like I’d paid for the privilege.
That being said, I’m not precious about flying economy either. But there is a complex strategy I set about executing before every flight to ensure I’m getting the best seat in the cabin. But I dare not share my secrets.
Until my next upgrade, I’ll be preparing my next plan of attack from an aisle seat.