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What's the best travel upgrade you've received?

Mattg

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Taking some inspiration from the very interesting recent "best 747 experience" and "flights from hell" threads, I thought I'd start a thread for people to share their favourite upgrade stories.

It could be a flight upgrade, hotel upgrade, maybe even a rental car upgrade... or anything else related to travel, really. It could also be a freebie that you were given. What's the best or perhaps most unexpected upgrade you have received?
 

Mattg

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A few stories come to mind for me...

I've received a few op-ups (operational upgrades, which are given out when a flight is oversold in economy class) over the years from Emirates, United, Malaysia Airlines and even once from Qantas - although in that case it was because I was celebrating my 100th QF flight.

My first ever long-haul business class flight was an op-up on MH; I was 18 and had never flown international business class before. I was so grateful for the great food (holy moly, the satay was good!) and lie-flat bed, and really enjoyed the experience.

But I think my favourite upgrade story was actually at a hotel, rather than on a plane. I was travelling in Belgium shortly after the Winter Olympics, and had booked the cheapest room at quite a nice hotel. When I arrived, the hotel manager was really over-the-top friendly. He upgraded me to their best suite and said I could have complimentary breakfast, for some (as yet) unknown reason.

Over the subsequent days the manager kept checking on me and asking if everything was OK whenever I'd enter or leave the hotel, and kept offering me free drinks etc. I couldn't work out why, until I was chatting with him at breakfast the next morning. He started asking me all sorts of technical questions about skiing - something I had never done in my life. Then it clicked that there is an Australian Olympic skier with the same name as me, who's also around the same age and looks a bit like me. So, I believe this was probably a case of mistaken identity (not that I let it on, once I realised)!
 

Hvr

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I was in Bangkok and staying at a different Hilton each night to retain status. There were three nights in the Conrad over this time.

On my first visit the young Japanese lady on the desk saw my Diamond status and took me off to check in at the special place. She then realised that I was spending several nights there over the week and asked why.

I explained that I was building up my nights to continue as a Diamond member, she smiled and asked me to see her each night. The second night I arrived there she saw me and came over straight away with a big smile and welcome back Mr Hvr. As she was checking me in I gave her a magazine I had picked up in a lounge somewhere, with an edition focused on Japan (I think the Economist) and gave it to her.

She was very pleased and reminded me to see her again on my final night.

Upon arrival on my final night she saw me and again welcomed me, but then looked at me eyes downcast and said "I am very sorry Mr Hvr, but we don't have any rooms left tonight".

I remained quiet and looked at her when she laughed out loud and said we have a suite for you.

Bear in mind I had paid the cheapest possible rate so this was an incredible upgrade.

She then took me up and showed me though the suite which had seven rooms. I literally got lost in it. I doubt I used all the features but I tried. It had two bathrooms, the main overlooking Bangkok from up high. I pity anybody who saw me in the bath but the view was too good to close the shutters.

I'm now a nothing with Hilton, but it was fun while it lasted.
 

oznflfan

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In 1996 was flying from Christchurch back to Sydney. We didn't confirm our flights and was a bit late to the airport. Counter staff stated flight full. I stated disappointed as really need to get back to Sydney. Checked with supervisor and came back and said how much do you really want to get back? Confirmed again, and she suggested I can fly behind the pilot. Not sure what type of plane it was, but older four seat cockpit (maybe 747).

Was Pilot and trainee pilot in front, and co-pilot and me sitting behind in the cockpit. My wife (to be) sat in the pilots sleeping room off the cockpit.

Awesome flight.
 

Mattg

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In 1996 was flying from Christchurch back to Sydney. We didn't confirm our flights and was a bit late to the airport. Counter staff stated flight full. I stated disappointed as really need to get back to Sydney. Checked with supervisor and came back and said how much do you really want to get back? Confirmed again, and she suggested I can fly behind the pilot. Not sure what type of plane it was, but older four seat cockpit (maybe 747).

Was Pilot and trainee pilot in front, and co-pilot and me sitting behind in the cockpit. My wife (to be) sat in the pilots sleeping room off the cockpit.

Awesome flight.
That sounds even better than an upgrade to F!
 

Pushka

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After a horror month for our business where our business partners went broke, we were due to fly out to Venice in Y on Emirates. It was an award flight. We almost cancelled but decided to go. At the airport we were upgraded to J! Our first ever upgrade because Qantas never does them to us. We have also been upgraded to F which was fabulous but this upgrade to J was like the person upstairs had taken pity on us.

And we arrived in Dubai at the start of Ramadan. We were staying at the Intercontinental in a club room. Because it was so empty we were upgraded to a suite which took up half the floor. We kept discovering new rooms. It even had a butlers pantry.

On our First class upgrade we arrived into Dubai to be collected by a "limo" bus reserved for F and which was decorated in a fashion that only Emirates can do.
 

NickCorr

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Landed on a sunny Monday morning in SYD, to be greeted with the Budget computers having crashed and the staff being swamped by people trying to collect cars to make meetings in town. So joined the merry queue and started waiting with everyone else. Noticed a Budget member of staff slowly walking up and down the queue, co-incidentally at the time I had got out my booking paperwork and my Fastbreak card. They notice the card and come over to have a chat.
"Do you have a reservation?" they asked.
"Yes I do, just for a small hatch, got a few meetings over the next few days".
"Could you just come over here please," walking me to the previously unstaffed Fastbreak counter. "Please sign here and here, and here again. It has a full tank and here are the keys," as he grabbed them from under the counter. "It's down the corner in one of the back bays. Should meet your requirements" he smiled. I looked at the keys and thought Commodore, that will be a nice upgrade.
Walked around the corner and there was a collection of silver Statesman. Pressed the button to find the right car, checked the vehicle, chucked the bag in the boot and wafted off for 3 days cruising around Sydney.

They had my regular business for some time after that...
 

henleybeach

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Like Matt my first upgrade was a MH flight from ADL-KUL and I was hooked from there. As a 20 year old i couldn’t stop looking around thinking I’m sitting with millionaires. (I didn’t know about FF points and schemes at this stage)
My best hotel upgrade was Abu Dhabi at rosewood Hotel. We had booked a normal room and when we checked in they couldn’t stop fussing over us. I couldn’t understand why, then the gentleman upgraded us to the royal suite !!! It was by far the best room/s ive ever stayed in. 24/7 butler. I can only assume they thought we were someone else !
 
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flyingfan

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The best flight upgrade was an op-up Y -> J on MH MEL-KUL for me and +1. It was all the more incredible because not only had I paid the absolute cheapest fare (a price match by the dreaded Flight Centre to another TA, so I could pay without CC surcharge) but we were only SG that year. I always thought you had Buckleys of an op-up if you weren't a WP flying solo. My +1 noticed my shock when we got the beep and new BPs at the gate... clearly my attempt to play it cool failed miserably. It was my first time in MH J and loved the satay (asked for seconds).

The best hotel upgrade was a Hilton. I was in my room when suddenly another guest opened my door. I rang up reception who said they'd mistakenly coded someone else to open my door. I firmly requested another room. Ten minutes later, the same guy from reception came with the bellhop and a trolley, profusedly apologised - and moved me to one of their massive suites. Shame it was my last night there but I still enjoyed it!

(not that I let it on, once I realised)!
Well played sir :cool:
 

jastel

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Not exactly a free upgrade but still great service.

Recently I got a Points Business upgrade on a QF flight to LAX, I have a friend who is a Business Class FA but have never managed to get on a flight with her. About 30 mins before the flight I noticed she was online and messaged her..."Dont suppose you are on QFXX in 30 mins?"
She said she was standby for it but everyone turned up...she told me the name of the CSM and something personal about him. So when I boarded I go "Hi Fred remember that time in xxx"...of course he didn't know me but was polite and showed me to my seat etc looking confused.
I then met my section FA and told my friend her name...my friend told me another personal fact about her...so when she came back with my drink I asked her about that...more confusion. The doors were closing so I signed off the messages and then showed the FA and CSM my phone the next time they came by.

They got the joke but I wanted for nothing on that flight...
 
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hey I think I rememberer more wonderful upgrades than flights from hell, so here are a few:-
  • 10 days in a huge suite at the Fairmont in Singapore after a botched check-in the night before (details too boring to go into)
  • one week in literally the presidential suite at another 5* hotel in Singapore (sorry forget which one) for no apparent reason - I had been feeling sorry for myself as the hotel I had wanted to stay was fully booked
  • upgrade for Mr LL & I on our one and only EK flight in discounted Y (unfortunately it was only AKL-SYD)
  • a 10 person shuttle from Whistler to YVR was a stretch limo when only 2 of us were booked
  • many complimentary upgrades from J->F on UA "back in day" when I was 1K
looking forward to reading about others' experiences.
 

drron

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Three very nice hotel upgrades.
First Hilton Anchorage.We were to stay there on mrsdrron's birthday so I booked a suite.In the days before there had been major floods and access to Denali was cut-both road and rail.There were literally hundreds of Princess passengers hoping for a room.But being Diamond then and having booked a suite we received the Governor's suite.very convenient as we had friends witthout a room so were able to offer them one of the bedrooms.

Second was the Westin Madrid.I had done a status match from Hilton to SPG and this was my first SPG stay.The check in guy personally escorted us to our room which he said we would probably like.Well the Royal suite was acceptable even though we didn't have a maid to occupy the maid's room.However the next day was Spain day so we were able to sit on our balcony and watch the parade.Naturally after that I decided SPG was to be my primary hotel scheme.

Third was the Sheraton IAH.It was the night I got to 500 nights and LTP.Given the Presidential suite plus free meals.
 

Buzzard

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Many years ago I used to like flying domestic from the international terminal for reasons I shan't go into.
Doing some volunteer work for the media, I used to go to the Indy Cars on the Gold Coast. I think it was 1998 and I was flying home to SYD from BNE and found I was one of only about 12 pax on a 747 repositioning flight.
The crew started a conversation with me about what I had been doing up in QLD and when I told them they said I must meet the Captain as he was a motor sports fan.
I was taken to flight deck and spent the rest of the flight in the jump seat, landing included and left the aircraft with the crew.
A better upgrade you couldn't ask for.
Those were the days.
 

Happy Dude

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I once showed up to the airport check-in really late for a BNE-ICN-NRT flight on Korean. A customer service office dude came scuttling over saying "You're so late we have to put you in business class!!". Okee-dokee then. Pleasant flight ensued but only as far as ICN.

I've a had few other long haul op-ups on various airlines, including Y-J on JAL which was lovely and a Y-F on MUH which was sorta fun but ruined because the dude next to me spilled a whole glass of pre-take off champers on me, which is surprising as I've never held any status until relatively recently. As a QF PS, the bride and I were bumped to PE on a LAX-BNE flight.

However, as nice as a long haul upgrade is, sometimes the best upgrades are ones that make you feel like you've dodged a bullet by taking you from a chockers Y cabin to a roomy J seat on VA between ROK-BNE.
 

Happy Dude

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Over the subsequent days the manager kept checking on me and asking if everything was OK whenever I'd enter or leave the hotel, and kept offering me free drinks etc. I couldn't work out why, until I was chatting with him at breakfast the next morning. He started asking me all sorts of technical questions about skiing - something I had never done in my life. Then it clicked that there is an Australian Olympic skier with the same name as me, who's also around the same age and looks a bit like me. So, I believe this was probably a case of mistaken identity (not that I let it on, once I realised)!
Prior to the days where any and pretty much all info is at your fingertips, I used to use the name of one of the several trainee pro golfers I knew to get free rounds of golf.
 
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Glider_

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Booked the absolute cheapest, auto-club discount budget room at the Aria hotel in Vegas for about $200++ Aud.
Got there and I did my usual routine with the check-in ladies where I'm very happy and asking about their day and oooh-ing and aaah-ing about it being our first time there and looking forward to it so much etc etc. The receptionist saw it was my birthday in a few days and with a big smile said she can find a better room for us.
She hands us the key cards and directs us to the exec tower and we end up in a $1000+pn sky suite with view of the strip.
*Fabulous*
 

Matt_01

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I will throw my hat in the ring and agree with @luxury-lizard alluding to forgetting the "flights from hell" in 30 years of travel I have had my fairshare but that just comes with the territory.
Now to the upgrades in a pre Covid world:
  • Flights - I have had my fair share of op-ups and P1 upgrades with QF and other OW alliance flights.
  • Hotels - Lots of upgrades from the base room to suites mainly in Asia and the US, I have platinum or equivalent status across 3 different chains.
  • Cars - A number of upgrades, but only did this when drivers were not available.
For my prediction in a post Covid world and status dropping:
  • Flights - No more upgrades and I will become one of those who complain that I cannot get reward seating and spend hours in the QF CC queue even though I am LTG.
  • Hotels - no upgrades and I have to stay in line with all the other guests.
  • Cars - use Uber and at worst a taxi after standing in line for longer than I care to remember.
 
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Spongbob

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A few stories come to mind for me...
Over the subsequent days the manager kept checking on me and asking if everything was OK whenever I'd enter or leave the hotel, and kept offering me free drinks etc. I couldn't work out why, until I was chatting with him at breakfast the next morning. He started asking me all sorts of technical questions about skiing - something I had never done in my life. Then it clicked that there is an Australian Olympic skier with the same name as me, who's also around the same age and looks a bit like me. So, I believe this was probably a case of mistaken identity (not that I let it on, once I realised)!
And I am guessing, once the Manager realised you were not the Australian Olympic skier it was all down hill from there?
 

kiwitripper64

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The first international upgrade is always the best. Got to BKK on way to LHR, checked in and walked off. About 5 min later I heard my name on the speakers asking to return to checkin. Being new to flying I had no idea, but got a shiny new boarding pass to J and a visit to the lounge. So happy.
Hotel. We were at an Oberoi hotel when the smoke detector went off at 1am. After some time staff turned up and asked if we wanted to wait while they replaced the battery or just take the unit away. By then it was 1.30 and we told them to remove it. The next morning we were met by the manager who profusely apologised and gave us the previous nights meal comped. As far as we were concerned, the apology was good, the free meal more than enough. Then we arrived at the next hotel. We were sent to the bar for check in, met by their manager, then taken up to our upgraded suite which we enjoyed for 3 days.
Over the top but really appreciated.
I have had an upgraded room when I arrived at a hotel at 2am with 6 am departure. Just felt disappointed.
 

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