Not So Fast: Crew Members Explain Why Sneaking Into First Class Is A Bad Idea
By Sharelle Burt
There is a major difference between flying coach and flying first class. Besides being first to board a plane, there is more room to move around. But of course, how do we get access to the first class experience if we can’t afford it?
According to a few flight attendants, passengers have watched the hit movie Bridesmaids one too many times. One of the most common ways to sneak into first class, hilariously enough, is to put a blanket over yourself. Now we could be wrong, but we’re pretty sure it’s not hard to spot a human shape under a blanket, but it looks like people try anyway. One stewardess recalled a moment when someone used that tactic on her. “It’s not an invisibility cloak,” she said. When she caught someone doing this she “asked him for his boarding pass and he asked me why he couldn’t stay there if nobody is sitting there.”
That is a pretty good question. If all passengers are on the plane and the seat is empty, what’s the issue? Well, you could still be punished. The first step would just be the public embarrassment of having to take the walk of shame back to coach. Jay Robert, cabin manager and founder of A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge, says it’s all fun and game until you mess with the wrong crew member. “The crew often talk very loudly so your fellow passengers know the reason you are being escorted back to your seat,” Robert says. “We will also tell all the crew on the plane about your antics and put you on our “watch list.”
The next common excuse is claiming that your upgrade to first class is under doctor’s orders and using a phony doctor’s note. Another cabin crew member recalled a time when a coach passenger was sitting in business class and when asked about it, she claimed she the note was lost. One crew member says the best way to handle that is to charge for the full amount of the seat and tell the passenger to reclaim it through health insurance.
We know that you’re surprised that you can get charged for your sneaky ways, but to crew members it makes sense. “A passenger might think it’s a fun game trying to sneak into a higher class of service, but as crew, we are not amused,” Robert says. “Those seats are the products we sell, and when you try to take something you didn’t pay for, that’s stealing.” Trying to get over on a crew member could result in a gate agent waiting for you to accept payment for the difference in fare you tried to dodge paying once you reach your destination.
While many people claim they get away with it all the time, the reality is that’s not the case. Crew members are equipped with a seat map which tells them which seats are vacant and for sale, as some passengers will try to finesse ground crew members into telling them which seats are free. Anyone that flies knows that is extremely rare.