a man taking a selfie in an airport

First, let me start by saying it was an absolute thrill and blast to be invited back onto Good Morning America, this morning. It’s the show I grew up with, while pretending to eat the healthy parts of my breakfast as a kid- and still one of the very best shows on television. The segment was really fun, made me laugh and hopefully got people geared up to steal my seat, sending me back to economy for good. As is the nature of television and tight schedules though- something fun and important was left out…

People Already-Really Got Upgrades Through The Challenge…

People are naturally wary of this contest- i mean, what are the chances that we’ll be on the same flight and you’ll look up from your iPad to see me? Despite all my Twitter and Instagram clues, it’s still not easy. Well, this past weekend British Airways gave me an unprecedented 10 upgrades to give out to anyone that found me, on each of my flights. 10x the opportunity to trade your economy ticket for a business class ticket, and they even told people to look out for me. Fair warning, I’d say…

But No One Found Me On My Flight From New York to London!

That’s right! Despite British Airways tweeting to it’s massive amount of followers that I would be there, sharing a picture of my face, and telling people which day I’d be flying, only one person legitimately found me. I was so bummed, until British Airways said I could pick anyone I wanted and upgrade them. NINE upgrades! I felt like some sort of upgrade God. It was hilarious- but I zeroed in quickly on people who looked like nice, tired, sad, or excited. I found a nice family of four, a couple wearing “I love New York” t shirt, who coincidentally were on their honeymoon – something I found out ONLY after offering to upgrade them. It. Felt. Like. Magic. It was fun, it was just what travel should be. How many people can say they get to pick and choose that many upgrades on a long flight? Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me- as someone who’s lucky to fly up front often is seeing the pure joy and overwhelming feelings for people who haven’t yet flown in a flat bed. It’s an incredible experience, and to share it with others, just because I created a goofy contest was lovely.

And Then On My Flight From London It All Changed. It GOT CRAZY…

Just like a scene from the movie Catch Me If You Can- there was a mad dash through the airport. A literal mad dash for upgrades. British Airways subtly tipped people off that there might be a strange looking eccentric man in the terminal who has upgrades for the 7:45PM BA183 departure to New York. My twitter feed started exploding with “where are you?”, “we’re trying to find you”. Minutes later- there was a group of people literally running through the terminal, in chase. “It’s you, it’s you- are we too late?”. The chase was on, and when all was said and done, ten people found me in the airport and got upgraded to Club World business class. There was a buzz, a rush and just a great feeling all around.

So Don’t Forget, This Contest Runs All Year, And I’ve GOT LOTS OF FLIGHTS COMING UP, So It Really Could Be You…

There’s no telling what British Airways could be up to for the rest of my flights this year, and I’ve also got quite a lot of flights on other airlines as well. Simply head over to the Catch Me If You Can- challenge page to get a glimpse of the routes and airlines I’ll be on. We’ll be dropping clues on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all year, so all you gotta do is catch me. Best of luck.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. So did you ride in economy on either of the flights? My guess is no…Also, what was the purpose for flying from NY to London and back the next day? If I read that right, you have given away a total of 20 upgrades for 2 flights? Did BA hold 10 seats in Biz to give to you just for this? Bold move

    1. Correct on most if not all fronts. I started the challenge, British Airways loved it, wanted to get involved- so they said let’s do this fun thing for the weekend. They indeed held 10 seats in each direction to make it possible. I thought it was too cool to pass up. The looks on peoples faces were a career highlight. They thought it was a scam hah!

  2. Been following you for a while Gilbert and so excited to see you getting noticed big time.
    Always get your emails on my Sunday night here in JNB and it’s a perfect end to the weekend to read all your exciting articles. Look forward to bumping into you somewhere in the world!

  3. Hey Gilbert,
    I hope to see you in flight next week to Rome out of CLT
    Love your articles

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