Quinn left an interesting comment on a recent post about my experience at TPA, with an idea I have been hinting at on FlyerTalk for a long time but never actually got around to doing:
Hey Lucky, how about you do some investigative journalism? Pull a Barbara Ehrenreich. On an upcoming trip, don’t put in any upgrades, and remove your MP number from the itinerary. Dress like a typical college student and see how you’re treated. Or, put in the upgrades and have them clear as a 1K, then remove your MP number.
Now the way I was originally going to approach it was slightly different. Since I usually wear khakis and a sports jacket when I fly, I never get any weird looks, never get any questions, never get carded for entry into the RCC, etc. My plan was to just dress like a typical college student (shorts and a t-shirt or something like that) and fly as a 1K, interacting with as many employees as I can. I would love to see whether all of a sudden I get carded for entry into the RCC, get comments from other passengers, get questioned by FA’s, etc. That was going to be my initial approach, mainly to see how different it would be.
Quinn raises a different yet equally interesting scenario, in my opinion, flying just as a normal college student. Does this mean I would just fly as a totally average passenger and all the things that come with it? That means regular economy (no First and not even Economy Plus), no RCC access, no priority boarding, etc.? On one hand it would be interesting to see what it’s like to fly again with no status, but at the same time I think age plays less of a role here since I’d be flying as the average passenger, after all.
Just in case there are any doubts, I’m not trying to do this to get any employees in trouble, that’s not my intent. Rather I’d be curious to see (for my own enlightenment and maybe for that of my readers here) if there are any differences, yet another potentially interesting data point from my collective travel experiences.
So what do you folks think? Which should I be doing, dressing like an average college student and flying first, using the RCC, etc, or should I be flying as a totally average student without any frills at all? I would appreciate thoughts, be they via the “comment” function here or otherwise via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). BTW, I already have several itineraries in May which would be great for a scenario like this…