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There are plenty of ways to upgrade from economy to business on an international United flight — physically moving yourself from your assigned economy seat up to a premium cabin is not one of them.

A man traveling from Shanghai to Newark on a United 777-200 yesterday insisted on sitting in the BusinessFirst cabin, even though he was only ticketed for coach. The flight ended up departing more than two hours late as a result.

The business-class seat this man was trying to "self-upgrade" to.
The business-class seat this man was trying to “self-upgrade” to.

Given that passengers have to walk past dozens of lie-flat seats (just like the one above) on their way back to coach, it’s understandable that this particular traveler felt a bit left out — especially just before departing on a nearly 14-hour flight in cramped economy. Still, flight attendants have a passenger manifest that clearly identifies empty seats, so you’re not going to fool anyone by sitting in an empty business-class seat like you’re meant to be there.

The flight had three empty business seats.
The flight had three empty business seats.

The flight did end up going out with three empty business-class seats, so the man could have successfully upgraded using miles or an upgrade certificate if he had tried. Instead, he simply refused to sit in coach and ended up creating a scene — and ultimately, didn’t make it to Newark as originally planned.

H/T: View from the Wing

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