This Passenger Stole a Business Class Seat on Turkish Airlines – And Got What She Wanted

Partner Fare Classes
Written by Charlie

There are a lot of great things about business class – the food, the service, the space, and the lie-flat bed! This passenger obviously really wanted some part of that on one of my flights and she got exactly what she wanted as she stole a business class seat!

The differences between business class and economy class are great enough that you often see the passengers doing long stares at those seats as they make their way back to coach. I am sure that the thought of “self-upgrading” or stealing an upgrade has occurred to some people at some stage of travel! Thankfully, most people never act on that. However, this passenger on one of my flights did and she pulled it off.

This Passenger Stole a Business Class Seat on Turkish Airlines

This summer, I was flying business class on Turkish Airlines between Boston and Istanbul. I have flown them probably around 20 times and really enjoy the whole experience. There is a lot to like about Turkish Airlines business class (and even more to like when they roll out their newest business class next year!) for sure!

Here Comes the Passenger – Surveying the Business Class Cabin

On this particular flight, I was seated in the back of the cabin. I noticed this woman walk up through the curtains separating coach from business class and slowly walk forward through the cabin, looking at the seats as she went. Now, I know this woman had not been sitting in business and I was curious to see if she was just hoping to use the restroom or if she had bigger plans.

It turned out that she had bigger plans! The passenger in the front row of business class had just asked the flight attendants to make up her bed while she was in the bathroom. So, there was a freshly made business class bed and this passenger from coach could not help herself. The whole thing was playing out a like a little bit of a Goldilocks story as the passenger from coach looked around one more time and then lay down on the bed.

I was watching in disbelief and also a bit of curiosity as I really wanted to see what happened (this was not the first time I have seen someone sneak a business class seat!) when the flight attendant asked her to move back to her seat. Shortly, the business class passenger exited the bathroom and walked toward her seat. She stopped in surprise to see this other lady lying in her bed! She checked the seat numbers and then bent over to talk to the lady.

She Got Exactly WHAT SHE WANTED!

Apparently, the lady that had stolen the seat did not reply so the rightful owner of the seat went and asked a flight attendant to come. The flight attendant started speaking to the lady from coach and then gently shaking her shoulder. That’s right, either the lady had already fallen asleep or she was doing a great job of faking it! No matter how much the flight attendant shook her shoulder, the lady would not budge! 

Eventually, the flight attendant made up another seat for the business class passenger, just across the aisle. The flight attendant was very apologetic and the passenger was handling it very well. After about 4 hours, the passenger from coach woke up and the flight attendant quickly went over to her and told her she needed to leave the seat. She escorted her back to coach and that was the last we saw of her.

I couldn’t believe the lady had been that brazen but she had gotten exactly what she wanted – a few hours of sleep in a lie-flat bed. I am honestly not sure what should be done in a situation like this, do you have the airline staff meet her on the ground and charge her extra for what she did?

What do you think should have been done to this passenger and should the flight attendant have tried harder to wake her?

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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 wonder if this is something cultural? Two days ago, I was on a TK short-haul flight in Y. I had booked an exit row seat, aisle. A guy was in the middle. And an old Turkish lady sat in the window of the exit row.

    Boarding continued, and a younger German woman arrived and claimed that the window seat was hers. The old lady said, in broken English, “no, I sit here”. The young woman took out her boarding pass, which clearly indicated the seat was hers. The old lady took out hers, which clearly indicated that she was in a row much further in the back. Still, she wouldn’t budge.

    A flight attendant was summoned and talked to the old lady. She just shook her head and started staring out the window. At which point the flight attendant told the young German lady “Okay, you just go take that lady’s seat back there.” The German woman looked gobsmacked, irritated, then trudged off to the back.

    And I was left amazed by how successful the combination of brazenness and stubbornness had proven in the light of conflict-shy FAs and other passengers.

    Now I know how to get that Business Class seat the next time!

    • You are welcome for the secret! 🙂
      I saw something similar on a different flight as well with an older lady. I think they may have some level of comfort about being near the window?
      As for this instance, I purposely didn’t mention this woman’s ethnicity because I didn’t want it to seem that I was blaming that. This woman was actually not Turkish, though. She also wasn’t an American!

  • How is she any different then all the people who buy a mistake fare ticket or who pester an agent for an upgrade?

    • Seriously?! One is someone who purchases a ticket and only is able to fly if the airline honors it. The next customer you mention, while annoying, has not taken something that belongs to someone else.
      Both are very different from this woman.

    • I run several businesses. Recently, I accidentally sold an item that cost far more just to ship than the customer paid in total (much less what I paid for it). But *I* made the pricing and advertised it, and so I ate the loss because I felt it fair to follow through. The customer who bought it knew that the item was priced at ~20% of all other available items in that model and thus probably a mistake; it’s why they bought it. I had the option of canceling the sale, and I did not. I do not blame them for buying my mistake price, and I think it’s silly when people blame customers for buying what a company is selling if the company honors the price.

  • I have seen people sit in biz and in comfort class many times. The fa’s are too busy smoking .

  • I dare this woman to pull this crap on AA. She would’ve been clubbed unconscious by the bouncers/FA’s onboard.

  • Ask her to get out of your $3,000 seat, then punch her in the ribs. Then say you are only going to ask nicely 1 more time. You will be amazed how well that translates into every language.