Before I tell this story, I need to set some background. If you get caught drinking and driving in
They’re not very flattering, but they serve a purpose. Sober drivers certainly pay more attention to drivers with Whiskey plates. Cops are allowed to pull Whiskey plate cars over for no reason whatsoever, other than to administer an ad-hoc breathalyzer test.
My friend Karl loves to encounter these drivers! He’ll pull up alongside them, make a beer mug out of his fist (his thumb is the pouring spout) and give them the “glug glug” sign, then point and laugh. I said, “Karl, that’s cruel. What if the driver is the mother of an irresponsible teenager and the teen is the one who garnished the infraction?” Karl replied, “So what? That doesn’t change my fun, so what’s your point?”
I laughed. He’s right. Although, it’s certainly true that things aren’t always what they seem to be. It must be horrible to be that mother, enduring the leers and stares from other “holier than thou” drivers. It doesn’t seem fair.
Well, things aren’t all that “fair” in the world of elite upgrades either. I have recently discovered a hole or bug in the algorithm that NWA uses to assign their first class upgrades. I even got 15,000 extra miles as a “reward” for finding it, so I suppose they’re working on it; but until they get it resolved, here’s how to use it to your advantage.
Suppose you’re a Platinum flier and your flight leaves on Saturday at noon. Meanwhile, Sally Silver only has Silver elite status and she’s booked on the same Saturday flight that you’re on. Friday at noon is exactly 24 hours prior to departure so you both are allowed to log in and select an upgraded seat for free. Let’s say that you decide to go ahead and check in for the flight, reasoning that if you check in earlier, you will be placed nearer the top of the upgrade list. Sally is lazy, so she waits to check in until Saturday morning at 8:59am. Now, let’s say that Frankie First-class already has a first class seat but he changes his mind and takes the evening flight instead, thereby making another first class seat available. Sill with me…? Guess who gets Frankie’s seat?
WHAT? Silver kung-fu more powerful that Platinum kung-fu?? I discovered this while sitting next to a Silver flier in a bar in
Your strategy? If you’re Silver or Gold, you can trump a Platinum flier by checking in prior to the three hour window. If you’re Platinum, never check in 24 hours in advance. The upgrade list isn’t assembled until the day of departure and it can hurt you to check in too early. I check in as early as I can on the day of departure. Then when the program sweeps the list at T-3 hours, it will find me as early as possible.
Feel free to call NWA customer service and complain about this if you’re Platinum or Gold, they’ll give you a ton of miles to make you happy. If you’re Silver, then e-mail me and thank me for the tip!