#90 (03.30) Upgrade

Thursday afternoon. I get an email from Air Canada changing my itinerary for my flight to England to give me a 6.5 hour layover in Heathrow instead of one and a half. I call Air Canada, try to figure out why, get it shifted. He tries, to no avail. 25 minutes on phone, I sigh. Request an upgrade for my trouble. He laughs.

Thursday evening, trying to check in online, I click the “e-upgrade” button with hope. Maybe I’ll get lucky on my overnight flight to England. I know I have a store of more than 40 upgrade points that I chose with my Elite status, and now that AC has this online system there’s no begging, just a request that’s met automatically if there’s room, based on when you requested it and how many points you have.

Insufficient points, it says. You need 14 poinst. You have 10 available. And yet, there’s a little button saying I have 41. Not available. It’s late, there’s no one to call. I get stubborn.

I try to purchase an upgrade, using aeroplan points. I select the flight day and time, which is now today, since it’s after midnight. “You must select a date in the future,” says the message. I sigh.

Friday, noon, on the streetcar, rushing to pick up my glasses. I call Aeroplan to ask why I supposedly have 41 upgrade points but only 10 available. The dude has a hard time understanding what I’m asking. A woman next to me is more irritated than I am. ‘Ask to speak to his manager. He’s not getting it,” she says. I laugh. He can’t figure out what I’m asking, wants to transfer me to reservations, I need to go fetch my glasses, I leave it.

Packing, an hour later, fortyfive minutes from my cab, I call again. Different dude, tells me 31 of those points have expired, they were from 2011. I wasn’t Elite in 2011, so I’m confused. We go around. I thought I was selecting 2012 points, they were in fact for the rest of 2011, Dude gets argumentative. I ask to speak to supervisor, acknowledging that it’s my mistake and I’m really trespassing on his good nature, try to get choices reversed. He reads me the marketing material. I point out it doesn’t say they’ll expire. I’m persistent, polite and pesky. He agrees to try to get them back. On hold, I forget to pack my binoculars. He says I can get them back, but probably not today.

At the airport, I try to request an upgrade when I print my boarding pass. Insufficient points, it says. I shrug, laugh at myself. In line, I get a text from Supervisor Dude. “Points now in your account and available.” At the desk, I ask air canada lady to request an upgrade for me, commiserate about the government’s refusal to allow them to strike, even for a day. ‘It’s the PRINCIPLE,” she says. I agree, peering over her shoulder to see if she has clicked the upgrade.

At the gate, I ask. “No, there was only one seat and I’m sorry, it wasn’t you.” I buy water and prepare to board.

As we board, I use my status to jump on early, make sure I have storage space. She looks at my passport, pauses, and hands me the upgrade. I practically cartwheel down the ramp.

Overnight to London, en route to my sweetie, the perfectly designed little executive pod with the duvet, water, orange juice, seat that stretches out. I want one for my home.

Persistent. And privileged all right.


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