Whenever I fly I usually keep an eye on the booking situation for the flight, just to get an idea about what the expected cabin load will be like. If the flight is packed to the limits or if you might get a free middle seat or even your own row. And of course it also gives a rough idea if there is a chance for an operational upgrade, which means a complimentary upgrade for operational reasons, like if a cabin class is oversold. There are several tools to check the booking situation, but you need some experience to interpret the data properly.
A check like this also gives an idea what the service level might be like. A light load may mean a more attentive cabin service, but it could also mean the complete opposite, that the cabin crew take the opportunity to relax a bit more in the galley.
No matter what I got it completely wrong this evening. I knew the flight was going to be rather full, but not full to the very last seat. So I was very surprised, but thrilled, when the machine at the gate beeped when it was my turn to board. “Seating issue” indicated the small display on the boarding pass reader and after checking my name I was given a new boarding pass with seat 03A. I had been upgraded!
Usually when there is a need to upgrade an airline starts with its own status passengers, so for Lufthansa it would mean Miles & More Hon Circle and Senators, which made this even more interesting. I do hold a Star Alliance Gold card, which was obviously the reason for me being given the upgrade, but not with Lufthansa or a Lufthansa partner.
I had initially selected an aisle seat but was now given a window seat, but it did not matter that much. There was an Italian middle-aged woman in 03C but of course the middle seat was empty in business class, which really makes a difference for the comfort.
During the flight a cold meal with salmon, potato salad and some kind of vegetable pate was served. The Lufthansa shorthaul business class food may not be the best in the industry but the salmon was tasty and better than some other meals I have had on Lufthansa.
After the main meal there was a mousse for dessert and some chocolate pralines in a box.
I had a gin & tonic to drink, something you cannot order in economy class, before dozing off after a long day. The service from the cabin crew was friendly but not exceptional in any way.
The approach into Rome Fiumicino airport was made from the north with landing from the south which meant we passed right over the city centre and I got a gorgeous evening view of the Eternal City.
You can also quite clearly see the Vatican City to the right on the photo with the large St. Peter’s Square.
It was a very pleasant surprise to be upgraded, something I had not expected. A very nice way to end a long work week.