When you make your way through first-class to your coach class seat, you pass passengers already seated in their wide seats, relaxed, with beverages and their noses stuck to their devices or magazines.
You squeeze yourself into your middle seat and shove your carryon under the seat in front of you because all the overhead space was taken by the time you got there.
Nodding at the guy next to you, you mentally calculate if he’s the kind of guy that would deny you elbow space on the armrest later in the flight.
You also mentally calculate if you could sneak into first class and take one of several empty seats you saw.
The answer? No.
Why? Because it’s stealing.
You’ve paid your fare and it was for coach. Why should you be the one to get an empty first class seat over another passenger?
Recently, on Twitter, United Airlines put it another way when a passenger tweeted this question: “What’s the point of empty seats if they can be filled and your customers can have a better experience?”
Because, United answered, “… If you were to purchase a Toyota, you would not be able to drive off with a Lexus, because it was empty.”
The customers who choose to pay for Economy Plus are then afforded that extra space. If you were to purchase a Toyota, you would not be able to drive off with a Lexus, because it was empty. ^BA
— United Airlines (@united) September 7, 2019
Something else to keep in mind, flight attendants know who is supposed to be in their first class cabin. If they do note someone taking a seat they didn’t pay for, they can confront that passenger.
In forums, tales of passengers getting charged for the upgrade or even getting arrested are frequently discussed.
More legroom and a free cocktail doesn’t seem to be worth the hassle, does it?
If you’re really determined, you can try asking the flight attendant if you can move up. Don’t count on a warm reception to the idea, though.