I believe it was Matthew over at Live and Let’s Fly who first coined the term “upgrade phobia” – a condition of nervously worrying about whether your upgrade will come through, constantly checking your position on the list, etc. And I have admittedly been deeply phobic most of the time, which results serious disappointment when an upgrade doesn’t come through.
I’ve been fortunate to maintain an incredible upgrade percentage the past few years, primarily due to selecting off-peak times and days and/or only booking flights where I could confirm an upgrade at ticketing.
But with changes in my flying patterns and upgrades becoming harder to come by – in some cases simply due to the way airlines offer and process them – I will be flying coach a lot more often in the future.
Here I was yesterday (below) at number 17 on the upgrade list out of 49 with a fully booked and checked-in cabin from Washington Dulles to San Francisco:
I resigned myself to knowing I’d never clear and definitely felt a little depressed about it… until about an hour into the flight. I sat there in my perfectly comfortable exit row window seat and gazed at the gorgeous horizon and setting sun and had that feeling of pure joy and relaxation I seem to have lost track of recently. Sure, I have always loved the view and experience of flying, but the game of needing an upgrade has been putting a veil over my experience the past few years.
It’s an addiction, really, and my flight yesterday reminded me how the resulting emotions the phobia brings clouds my true passion for flying in the first place – simply flying.
Flying is awesome and it, in and of itself, is what I love to do. Chasing the high of earning top-tier status and getting upgrades these past few years has really suppressed some of my natural joy.
My goal on United this year is simply to hit million-miler status (I’m 4,100 miles away after counting what I have booked, but not yet flown) and I’ll be dropping from Premier 1K status down to Gold for 2014. Upgrades will definitely be rare after that and I was happy yesterday to have been woken up from the (over-entitled?) behavior I’ve been demonstrating.
I hope to stay in this current mindset and avoid relapsing into old phobic behaviors. If I get an upgrade, great. And if not, simply love the experience of flying.