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December 21, 2011

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You can get preferred treatment by acting. I do this without dressing up because that can get in the way of the gig I'm trying to play. Innocence, sweetness, and naivete combined with understanding how airports function gets you the best treatment of all.

I think this is kind of outdated. A lot of this is automated now based on frequent flyer's and class of ticket at least on Delta. All else being equal the system goes to who checked in first. The counter staff has little say anymore. As far as dress, since I also travel mostly for work and work dress code for travel is at least smart casual, I'm general in the middle on dress.

I, too, feel like this is out it used to be. Maybe in the PanAm days. Nowadays, the airline will upgrade a high tier elite in shorts and a tank top over a non-elite in a tuxedo ;)

I used to fly by standby a lot.

Quite often, I found that many business class seats would be empty. If I indicated at the desk that I was interested in those seats, and had dressed the part, it seemed more likely I would get one if it became available.

I think the author is way off base. As mentioned above, the upgrade is based on factors such as the class of ticket, how much you paid for the ticket, and your loyalty to the airline. It doesn't matter how empty first or business class is, you will not be upgraded if you bought a cheep T class ticket. I don't think the airlines (I fly Delta and United) will even allow an upgrade by paying additional money if you have a T class ticket. By the way, purchasing through discount travel sites is one way to end up with the low class tickets.

I had one experience where the air plane was changed out to a smaller plane and only 2/3 of the original flight was booked to the new flight. It was based on ticket class. There were a lot of ticked-off people left at the gate as they did not make the flight, but what do expect when you buy a cheap low class ticket.

I think the author is just assuming based on an isolated experience from his friend and what he remembers form 30 years ago.

I assume if an airline cares about you then they already know they care about you. They have your frequent flier info and they know you get special treatment. Otherwise its first come first served.

While the airline may not treat you any differently based on dress, other passengers may. As a young career professional, you can be treated better if you dress the part (given a seat in the terminal, for example, instead of having to sit on the floor). When you seem "young" and headed on spring break, people may assume you don't have any place to be or that you're fine with "hanging out". Being comfy on a flight, however, may be worth all the discrimination.

I don't think that dressing up helps you get an upgrade. It's all computerized and based on your FF status, miles on account, how much you paid for the ticket, when you requested the upgrade, etc. However, dressing up does help you get better service when in first class. Dressing up doesn't mean you have to wear a suit and tie. It can mean you wear nice casual clothes showing you take care of yourself. This can be nice jeans and a nice collared casual shirt. In other words, don't dress like a slob.

Or... to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, don't show up with all your stuff in Piggley Wiggley bags!

I have noticed that your clothes make a difference at Menards. When I show up over lunch or after work in khakis I get a lot more, "Can I help you?" than when I come in on the weekends wearing work boots and a tape measure hooked on my belt. I don't know if dressing up helps at the airport but customer service is better at Menards when the help assumes you know nothing about home improvement because you are wearing business clothes.

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