Celia Rivenbark

From the Belle Tower | It’s OK to say no to upgrades

If you haven’t heard the phrase “hate selling,” you probably don’t buy airline tickets online very often.

Consumer advocates are complaining that the worst offender is a very large carrier whose name rhymes with Relta. I don’t want to use the airline’s real name because there are two sides to every story and I wouldn’t want to be accused of being unfair to Delta. I mean Relta. Ack!!!!

The alleged “hate selling” takes place when you order a ticket online and you are, critics claim, “shamed into upgrades.”

OK, I have zero patience for a grown adult person who can’t simply click on “no thanks.” The website’s constant checking makes sure you understand that when you buy the cheapest seat, you’re going to experience less actual service.

For instance, if you buy the cheapest fare possible, you might be informed that your low rate is based on “willingness to fly out there on the wing which is super cold, we’re just sayin’” or “be moved to the seat beside the exceedingly smelly backpacker who needs a ride to his sister’s house when you land.”

Hate-selling makes the consumer feel like, well, they’re not a very good or generous person according to critics. What kind of a tightwad doesn’t opt for one of the fine-dining options? Or even one of the not so fine options? As airlines find new ways to make profits other than charging to do stuff like fly you AND your luggage to the very same destination, they have to get creative.

Look, I agree with Relta on this one. If you’re so sensitive and weenielike that you don’t want to seem cheap to a big airline, you get what you deserve. Don’t want to pay for the blankie or the movie? Then don’t. You can’t be shamed online. Unless, of course, you’re watching midget porn again. Sorry. Little people porn.

The notion that this is some sort of consumer movement tickles me no end. To Relta’s credit, it has tried, very delicately, to point out that the reason it has to repeatedly remind people “if you buy the cheapest ticket, you may or may not have one of those yellow mask thingies with the cord on it at your seat” is because, well, consumers aren’t all that bright.

No we is not.

It’s not that the airlines are nagging us to upgrade; it’s that too many of us apparently show up at the airport expecting foi gras and champagne and we actually bought the ticket that doesn’t include anything except “the flight to your destination and unlimited use of the spacious and elegantly appointed rest room facilities on board.” Never mind that last. The backpacker is “washing out a few things” in there for the next hour or so. Be cool.

Finally, don’t expect to buy the rock-bottom cheapest ticket and board with Zone 1. No, no. You’ll be the last one on. And everybody will stare at me. I mean you.

Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

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