Kid in a suit

Does dressing nicely help you get upgraded on flights? Photo by David Wiley

For the average traveler, getting upgraded on a flight has become an increasingly elusive experience. The days when batting your eyelids at the check-in agent or claiming you were on your honeymoon led to being promoted to the front of the plane are long behind us.

Which is why I was more than a little surprised to see this USA Today article, claiming the author’s friend was upgraded on an Air Canada flight between San Francisco and Vancouver simply because he was wearing a suit. The man had no frequent flier status with the carrier, and when he enquired about the upgrade, he was supposedly told it was because:

“Our station manager noticed how well dressed you were and told me to upgrade you.”

Now, truth be told, most people dress pretty poorly on flights (hot pink Juicy Couture sweatpants and flip-flops, anyone?) so donning a suit certainly sets you apart from the hordes wearing what you could only presume to be gym wear (though to be completely fair, it does make stripping down at airport security a lot easier). That said, most upgrades these days happen before a gate agent has ever had a chance to lay eyes on you.

Having been upgraded a number of times myself; I’ve found it was always because my traveling companion or I had some sort of frequent flier status with the airline. And the upgrade often happened before we ever arrived at the airport. Furthermore, in not a single one of those instances was I ever wearing a suit.

So I want to know – have you ever been upgraded? What were the circumstances? And do you think the way you dressed played any role in the upgrade?