The Annoying Passenger Who Self-Upgraded on Emirates

a row of seats with purple pillows
Written by Charlie

The story of a very annoying passenger who decided to self-upgrade to business on Emirates.

Every so often, you encounter a fellow passenger that is really annoying. I mean, just doing things that grate against common decency and show lack of respect for those around.

The Annoying Passenger Who Self-Upgraded on Emirates

When He Started Showing Himself Annoying

I had one of those recently. I was in the line to go through passport control and this guy started right then. He kept trying to edge by me without saying a word (and he was also American and spoke English so communication wasn’t a problem). He would grab the barrier and start to slide around me when we would take turns.

At one point, he was pushing against me in a way that had me move my bags in front of me since I was nervous he was going to try and take something from me with the constant bumping โ€“ in a line that was not that crowded.

After we get through there, he then starts removing barrier straps to get to the front of security so he did not have to follow the line. It wasn’t just removing them โ€“ he didn’t even try to put them back.

Ok, at this point, I’m thinking that he must be late for catching his flight or something. Except we both arrived at the gate for the Emirates flight at the same time.

Nope โ€“ Not Late For His Flight!

Once we were at the gate and the zone boarding began, he ignored the calls for the zones in front of his and just tried to board when he wanted. When he was turned away, he was huffing and puffing, all put out.

On The Plane

Then, we get on the plane. We are both in economy, him one row in front of me and across the aisle at the window. He sits next to the window โ€“ except it wasn’t his seat and he kept trying to get the passenger who did have that seat to sit in the middle.

Don’t Like Your Economy Seat? Apparently, the “Natural” Thing is to “Steal” a Business Class Seat!

a person sitting in a chair

The passenger looking pretty comfortable in his “borrowed” seat

So, instead of taking his proper seat in the middle (it was the bulkhead), he decided he would move up and take an empty seat in business class. This is Emirate’s 777 so it did not have their lie-flat business seat but I guess he figured if he could get it for free! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Can I Have Another?”

I am just watching this guy in disbelief at this point and just assuming that he will come back before takeoff. Nope, he placed is pre-departure drink order, took an amenity kit, asked for another, and then asked for a pair of pajamas. After this, he began to go through the menu.

We took off with him still in business. I could see through the curtain that, at this point, he puts his seat all the way down and gets settled in. I kept waiting for some attendant in business class to talk to him but it did not happen โ€“ yet.

They start taking meal orders and he gives his. While he is waiting, he starts eating the nuts that were delivered to him and puts the headphones on to watch a show.


Having flown a fair amount of business class before (but not on Emirates), I know that the flight attendants normally come through to introduce themselves and they normally refer to me by name from the manifest. I assumed that this would happen at some point. If it did, it took quite a while.

However, finally, a flight attendant approach his seat (I am seeing this through the crack in the curtain) and leaned over to speak to him. The next thing I saw was him escorting the man towards the back of the plane, past his original economy seat. He had his stuff with him โ€“ but not his amenity kit or any pajamas he may have received (Emirates doesn’t normally give pajamas in business class).

The Case of Severe Entitlement

I just couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy, starting from the moment I saw him. He obviously saw himself to be more important than everyone around him and thought that it was not a problem to cut in front of people and make more work for others so he could get to the front of the line.

Then taking a seat that cost thousands more on the airplane? I have seen it happen on domestic flights before and even heard some people suggesting that travelers do it on international flights but I never saw it. At least he did not get away with it!

Have you seen someone self-upgrade to a premium cabin on an international flight? Did they stay the entire flight?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I’ve seen this maybe twice. Once the guy tried to sit in the same row as me in J. He boarded with his group way after I had been seated. I saw his boarding pass which clearly said economy. However, the FAs caught on very quickly and had him move before we took off

  • I have seen this happening but the flight attendant always figured it out through their passenger manifest.
    Although, the cabin you are showing on the picture is lie flat bed. All Emirates aircraft are now lie flat bed in business class and obviously first class.

      • Charlie – I would’ve loved it if you were in business and watched as he tried to self-upgrade to your class and then watch him get rejected and booted out of business as you wave gleefully at him like “byeeeee!!”, I can only imagine the look on his face!

  • Same thing happened to me recently on Jet Airways from Colombo to Mumbai. I wanted to take my seat in J and it was taken by a young backpacker girl with her female friend next to her.
    I told her that this is my seat and she was like ‘Oh, this is your seat?’ and moved one row back (still J). Her friend already had a welcome drink (with Jet Airways it’s no champagne anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and stayed in the seat next to me. I didn’t want to be condescending and think something like those two will have never paid for Business Class. But I was not surprised when the FA called them out pre-departure and asked them to take their original Eco seats. They tried to discuss that they were promised an upgrade but eventually had to move back. Both of them were giggling like crazy…

  • Makes me think of the Seinfeld episode when Elaine sneaks into first. I’ve seen a few of the self-upgraders over the years. Only domestic flights & most were caught in the act. Have had some recent middle seaters take the window next to me & settle in. One time a guy did this on a 767 2-3-2 Y seat config, & the passenger in the window boards. When the passenger with the assigned window showed up, this guy said “no problem, you can just have my seat (the middle seat)”. Heated words were spoken & finally a FA came by & made the seat stealer take his assigned middle.