Struth! Faking it in First Class

Filed under Struth, Struth!

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a Chinese man who recently made international headlines by dining free in an airline’s First Class Lounge for almost a year, may not be the trail-blazer he’s been made out to be – it seems he was beaten to the ruse by some devious young Aussie travel agents years ago.

The un-named Chinese man bought a fully-refundable First Class ticket with China Eastern Airlines in the city of Xi’an early last year, and immediately used it enjoy a slap-up meal pre-flight in the airline’s Domestic VIP Lounge – after which he phoned the airline, re-scheduled his flight to the next day and went home.

That next day he returned to the airport, ate, drank, changed his flight to yet the next day again, and once more went home… doing the same thing for an amazing 300 consecutive days until the airline realised just recently what he was up to.

And when confronted, he ‘fessed up, pointed out that as his ticket was fully-refundable, and said he wanted his money back – and got it.

But writing in Australasian travel industry newsletter, eGlobalTravelMedia, Australian travel journalist Peter Needham says that many years ago when paper tickets were still in use here, some enterprising young travel agents in a Sydney Eastern Suburbs agency would regularly write themselves a First Class ticket, then duck out to Sydney’s Mascot Airport where they’d simply show their paper ticket and be allowed into the airline’s First Class Domestic Lounge.

There they’d tell staff “they were early and would check-in later,” and enjoy the First Class hospitality for as long as they wished.  As no bookings had actually been made, at the end of their sessions they’d tear up their “tickets” and go home… and as one (now somewhat highly revered in the travel industry) boasted to Needham this week, “you certainly got the best grog in that First Class Lounge.”

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