When I learned that Kansas City International (MCI) would become the location of a mass airplane storage site, I ignored it. COVID-19 has brought unprecedented and rapid change upon us all. And we are all coping with it differently. For me, rather than accept the fact that my passion has ground to a halt, I have done my best to ignore the bad news while focusing internally on my family and friends.

But history is in the making and after a few weeks of airplane stockpiling I had to go see. I don’t know what I expected. I was excited to visit the airport for the first time in months. But when we drove past the threshold of runway 19L the site was… heartbreaking. Words truly cannot describe the feeling of seeing over a hundred planes in “active storage” lining a once busy runway and taxiway at an airport that has seen consistent and impressive growth over the past few years.

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Parked Plane Stats:

I called my good friend Nick Benson, chief AvGeek over at JetTip to see just how many planes have been parked at Kansas City International since the pandemic took hold.

An AirlineReporter ongoing series. Unsolicited travel advice from David.What do you get when you combine writing about airline travel since 2008, with a few decades of being a sarcastic chap? Unsolicited Travel Advice from David (the Editor-in-Chief of this dog and pony show) — that’s what! There are way too many travel-related click-bait stories out there that give you boring and questionable information from “experts.” This series will be different — I will give you entertaining, possibly less questionable information, while not caring about any sort of clicks or bait. Let me set the mood. Imagine that you and I are hanging out (before all the COVID-19 stuff ), when we have just hit upon an interesting airline/travel topic (free first class upgrade) and I am fired up and ready to spew my thoughts and opinions. When I wrap up, I am hoping that you won’t just awkwardly stare at me, but instead continue the conversation in the comments. Let’s do this…

Now, that is what I am talking about -- what I think about when I think "first class." (this is on a Etihad A380)

Now, that is what I am talking about — what I think about when I think “first class.” (this is on a Etihad A380)

HOW DO I GET A FREE FIRST CLASS UPGRADE?

This one is easy. You don’t. Conversation over.

“This is not what I was expecting,” you might be thinking to yourself. “I have heard about special tricks, some have to work, right?” Okay, okay, this wouldn’t be any fun if I didn’t at least talk about some of my favorite “tricks” that travel “experts” have given over the years. Or at least make fun of some:

  • Dress to Impress: I have seen this one for years. The idea is you dress to the nines, and the flight crew will be so impressed, that they will upgrade you for free. Right. Maybe (just maybe) this would have worked decades ago, but flying has changed. First class passengers wear everything from suits to PJs (and worse).
  • Suck Up: There are a number of valid reasons to bring a little present for your flight crew (like if you have loud kids, or you plan to act like a kid), but some passengers will try to butter the flight crew up before asking for an upgrade. It is not very genuine and I am guessing that the success rate is pretty low.
  • Be a Frequent Flier: If this is the first time you are hearing about being a frequent flier, you probably don’t deserve first class upgrades. #sorrynotsorry
  • Hope Your Seat is Broken: Seriously, I saw this given as real advice. Because if it is broken, you might get sent to first class. Heck, why not go one step further and just break your seat? Then demand to be put in first class (this is me being sarcastic — do not do that). Of course, this could all backfire and you’d end up in a back middle seat, delayed to the next flight, or permanently banned from the airline.
  • Lie: Just tell them it is your birthday (hope they don’t ask for your ID), your anniversary, or you are going on your honeymoon (make sure you have someone with you). Maybe they will upgrade you on your “special” day.
  • Be Sneaky:  Be one of the last to board or wait until the plane takes off and go find yourself an empty first class seat. Even if you ignore the fact that this is pretty much theft, the flight crew has a pretty good idea who is supposed to be in the premium seats and it is not you!

This classic first class is totally worth trying all the tricks in the book… it even has a sweet projector!

Those are all pretty worthless, but have no fear! I have 5 WAYS TO GET A FREE UPGRADE TO FIRST CLASS, that are 100%* legit. Keep reading to find out what they are (you won’t believe #4)…

Air France 777 Business Class Seat

What’s a French spin on long-haul flying look like? Until a few months ago I had no idea. I’d never flown Air France, their recently-retired millennial spinoff airline Joon, or a French leisure carrier like French Bee or Corsair. For my first flight on a French carrier I opted for the classic, and scored a nice deal with miles on Air France in business class from Sao Paulo to Paris. It would be on a Boeing 777-200ER, a plane well equipped to handle a long-haul flight like mine. The triple-seven isn’t the largest plane in Air France’s fleet (the A380 is) and newer dual-engine long-haul planes like the 787 and A350 get more love and attention nowadays. But Air France has a long proud history with the 777 — they were the launch customer for the 777-300ER — and the 777 is the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet.

Air France 777

In terms of the onboard experience, Air France embraces the stereotype of French style and service. So as I geared up for my flight, I was looking to see if cabin design, dining, and service would do the airline’s home country justice. Did they? Read on to find out!

The Pacific Coastal Air Beech 1900D we flew back to Vancouver

The Pacific Coastal Air Beech 1900D we flew back to Vancouver

Why drive hours to Canada just to take two 20 minute flights on a pair of Beechcraft 1900Ds, on two different airlines? Why not?

Back in February, my friend (and sometimes contributor to AirlineReporter) Jason made a visit to Seattle from his home in New York. He stayed with another friend of mine Jeremy (who is pretty much my AvGeek archnemesis and really good friend — it is how I roll). Instead of doing the normal (and boring) touristy stuff, Jeremy had another idea in mind. He wanted to create a fun little AvGeek adventure, taking two different forms of aviation transportation on an amazing day-trip in Canada. I was down.

NERDS! Jeremy and Jason welcome our plane back to YVR.

NERDS! Jeremy and Jason welcome our plane back to YVR.

He ran through different options and landed on taking two small airlines from Vancouver (YVR) to a small town called Campbell River, BC (YBL). I was told what tickets to purchase and what time to be at his house — that is all I needed. With my passport and GlobalEntry card in hand (yay, I actually got to use it for once), I was ready for our little adventure.

Flying from Vancouver (YVR) to Campbell River (YBL) and the star is Seattle – Image: GCMap.com