There are few things that better highlight the difference between the haves and the have nots than the slow shuffle everyone in economy has to make past the first-class passengers or, even worse, past the the curtains that separate glamourous luxury from cramped hell. To promote his website God Save the Points, travel writer Gilbery Ott launched his 2017 Catch Me If You Can promotion to help weary coach travelers take the high end seats they so desperately long to recline in.
Inspired by marketing and adventure luminary Richard Branson, Ott has promised to give his swanky seat to any person from the same flight who catches him before he boards. “I’m really proud of our new site,” he writes in an announcement for the promotion. “and if the chance to make me sit in coach while simultaneously making someone’s day brings me a single new reader, I’m psyched about that. For now… it’s worth it.” And, it’s certainly worth it to people who spot him. Dude, an upgrade to business or first-class is plenty of reason to wander up to a stranger and announce that you caught him.
It won’t necessarily be easy. “You may need a little bit of luck,” he writes. “But if you find me in an airport: check in counter, security lane, terminal, lounge or even boarding gate, I’ll switch seats with you, provided we’re on the same flight.” Those who follow his Instagram, his Twitter, and God Save the Points will spot clues to help them figure out if they have a chance to upgrade.
This isn’t a rare opportunity, Ott takes 100 tips a year. Rolling into 2017, he already had trips on American, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Delta, Alaska, Qatar, Swiss, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Etihad planned. And, every week brings a new invitation from across the world. In the next two months, he will hit New York, London, Amsterdam, Doha, Tokyo, Oslo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seattle, Sydney, Auckland, Queenstown, Zurich, Luxembourg, Mumbai and Delhi.
How has the year been going for Ott? When he spoke with us, he made it sound like the pendulum regularly swings between his being utterly ignored and pursued like The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night. At a few points, airlines have joined in on the fun. British Airways gave him 10 upgrades to give away as he chose. “People were casually alerted that some guy in the airport has 10 business class upgrades to give away for the 7+ hour flight between NY and London in both directions. People obviously realized that a bed with champagne would be a cool way to go — so I was literally chased (running) through the airport in London. It was awesome. In NY — no one recognized me — so they let me play upgrade god and pick 10 people who looked nice/tired/touristy whatever to upgrade. Muahahaha!”
And, he’s learning a lot about the insular proclivities of the average traveler. “My big takeaway,” he notes “has been that people keep their head down at the airport. I have been much more aware of people around me since starting the competition — but all I notice is that even people who could potentially recognize me and get an upgrade are just looking down playing Candy Crush. I’m not saying I don’t do the same thing, I just find it funny.”
With three months left to go in 2017, there are plenty of oportunities to slide into sweet, sweet first class, so keep an eye out for this gentleman.