Branson Is My BFF & Other VS Upgrade Excuses

Open Jaw

With his great hair, ubiquitous arm candy and adventurous nature – not to mention his wide-ranging Virgin business success – Richard Branson is a very familiar face. But claiming you’re his pal will not get you an upgrade on a Virgin flight.

The cabin crew has heard that one before. In fact, they hear it all the time.

Virgin Atlantic surveyed its cabin and ground crews about the most frequent excuses they hear from passengers seeking free upgrades to first class. The staff cited a fictional friendship with the billionaire as a “popular tactic,” a variation on the old “I’m with the band.”

"Sir Richard Branson is my friend and Sir Richard Branson promised me an upgrade were the two most common reasons passengers gave when requesting a complimentary upgrade to upper class suite," VS stated in a press release.

The other most-overused attempts focus around birthdays and honeymoons. And tall passengers often plead for the extra leg room of first class, though they don’t want to pay for it.

The airline staffers highlighted their favourite excuses, which range from the truly weird to the pathetic:

My Baby: "My newborn baby has claustrophobia, she is in counselling and we really need an upgrade so she has more space."

My Money Stayed in Vegas: "I lost all of my money in Vegas but really need an upgrade."

My Team Lost: "Manchester United lost today and I am really upset and need the space to get over it."

My Wife is Pregnant: "My wife is pregnant. I need an upgrade as it is a really stressful time for me."

Do any of these excuses work? In a word, no.

VS says free upgrades are "rarely offered" and if they are, it would be to a frequent customer.

However, in the spirit of fun the airline is encouraging passengers to post their upgrade pleas on Twitter ( TWTR, Tech30) at #BestRequest.

Here’s one creative example: "We'd love to be upgraded," writes one passenger, "to see red unicorns serving unlimited amounts of champagne." 

(will not be published)