This Passenger Stole a Business Class Seat – And Got Away With It

Written by Charlie

Here is the story about a passenger who stole a business class seat on a transatlantic flight – and got away with it.

There is no question that it is difficult to walk past business class seats on your way back to economy on a long-haul flight. I mean, who really wants to spend 8+ hours in a seat that has just a bit of a tilt and you have a stranger just a little bit in front of your face? But, the alternative is spending thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of miles more so people do it all the time!
Sometimes, though, you will see the person who chooses to steal a business class seat instead of spending for it – and that is what happened here.

Passenger Stole a Business Class Seat – And Got Away with It

Flight attendants are very good at spotting people who are trying to slide up to the business class cabin for a little time in the big chairs. Not only are they good at spotting them, but they also go through the cabin before take-off and meet the business class passengers so if they happen to see a previously empty seat occupied later, they know that person wasn’t there before.

I’ve seen this happen a couple of times but this guy certainly got his way for the longest I have seen.

This year, I was flying on a United flight in business class from Europe and saw a man come up from economy after take-off, jump into the empty seat across the aisle from me and put the seat back. He was next to another passenger who had already gone to sleep. I watched as this new passenger from economy quickly assumed a sleeping position.

After a little while, a flight attendant noticed the man in the previously empty seat and began to talk quietly to him. Then he lightly began to rock his shoulder to wake him. After a few attempts, the flight attendant walked away.

Another flight attendant came back after a little while and tried again, speaking quietly to the passenger and then shaking him a little bit harder than the previous attendant. Still nothing at all from the self-upgraded passenger.

One of the flight attendants asked me if I knew when the passenger came up and I told them. I said I had seen him come from economy class and the flight attendant said that it was definitely a passenger from economy.

During meal service, the flight attendants tried again. I have to say, this was more entertaining than anything on the multimedia unit! I kept waiting to see what would happen when the passenger finally woke up and the flight attendants took care of business – however they could do that.

However, the entire flight went by with the passenger never waking up. In fact, before descent when everyone had put their seats back to the upright position, this guy still was in bed mode and sleeping (or, at least, faking it). The flight attendants were a bit more insistent with their shaking as it was now more of a safety issue than anything else but the guy refused to wake up. They even checked for a pulse to be sure he was still alive!

On our final descent, the guy suddenly popped up and went back to economy class. Since even the flight attendants were seated and wouldn’t get up, he must have been able to slip back into his seat or another empty economy class seat and then disembarked with everyone else.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy. I mean, I know this happens, but I couldn’t ever imagine doing it myself! I still don’t know if the guy was really sleeping the whole time or just faking it. Maybe he had just finished a multi-day activity of some kind without sleep and just thought, who cares, I’m sleeping? I don’t know and apparently no one else will ever know either!

Have you ever seen something like this happen on your 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.


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