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Now I know why that random guy kept being the one to get upgraded! This story combines all the elements travelers and frequent flyers are interested in: upgrades, special services, secret services, bribes, international intrigue, celebrities and British Airways. In the latest case of men behaving badly, a British Airways employee has been suspended for taking bribes, for just about everything. I doubt he’s the only one in the game….

Matthew Underwood is alleged to have accepted bribes from celebrities, frequent flyers and just about anyone who knew they could pay to receive a service whether they deserved it, were entitled to it or not. Upgrades and catching a last minute flight entail elements of chance that some passengers and celebrities simply weren’t willing to risk. Off the bat, here’s what makes me laugh, most of the bribes Mr. Underwood allegedly accepted were for services forbidden to regular fliers, but reserved and accepted for top tier and secret tier elites. Apparently, many elites didn’t like playing by the rules, and Mr. Underwood thoroughly enjoyed accepting wads of cash every day to make miracles happen. A win win, at least for those on the inside. Most surprisingly, taking bribes was a daily event which only came to light when a plane was held not for an Executive Premier member which is allowed, but a Gold member’s children. The Gold member was not aboard the plane. Maybe too much fun in duty free?

Who to be mad at… Well, it sounds like there are a lot of people to blame. Mr. Underwood clearly became very cozy uprooting the fair process for anyone willing to pay, yet at the same time, many gladly paid, knowing that they were breaking the rules. In the end I blame Mr. Underwood for allowing individuals to uproot the integrity of a system designed to reward loyalty on a scale, not a buck. The real question however, is how many people in how many airports across the world are running the same racket?

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