|Sunrise over Siberia 2010|
Overall, if my flight lands safely [so far, so good], I am happy. When deplaning, I always make it a point to say "thank you" to the attendants who are standing at the door. And, on more than one occasion, simply being friendly and polite at check-in has yielded special treatment and upgrades.
My best upgrade was on a New York to Moscow flight. There was an extra check-in at the gate involving hundreds of passengers. The person in front of me began loudly demanding an upgrade from business to first class and claiming that she always got automatic upgrades and so on. The ticket agent insisted that no upgrades to first class were available. Then came my turn. I gave the agent a smile and said something like "tough day, isn't it?" She smiled back, rolled her eyes, and taking my business class ticket she told me to stand near the desk for a moment. The next thing I knew, she was handing me a new ticket for a first class seat.
I was not being polite that day to get an upgrade, I was merely empathizing with someone having the tough job of dealing with difficult people. Saying "please" and "thank you" is easy. Hearing nice words, whether or not they are directed to you, is, well, nice. Given the many inconveniences of travel, we should all resolve to make everyone's day friendlier in the skies and on the ground.