Video: I need an upgrade. Give me an upgrade. I am an elite member.

Looking for the perfect video for the lazy Friday afternoon? Check out this animated clip showing an average business traveler demand an upgrade from the poor ticketing agent.

As funny as this may seem, this is actually based off real passengers and real interactions with airline employees. Obviously, the whole thing looks funnier in an animated clip, which is what makes it perfect for ending the work week with!

Got any great anecdotes, experiences or passenger stories from your travels? Share them in the comments section!

The top six gangster style first and business class flights from the US — without chartering a G6

We all like to treat ourselves once in a while, whether its with luxury fur coats, $300 gastrogasm dinners at Noma or Momofuku or the Presidential Suite at the DC Mandarin Oriental. For the brass over at Gadling Labs, we like to fly in international First or Business class. And there are a few, very special routes that rank among our favorites ever taken. Curious? Ever taken one yourself? Read below for the best of the best.

6. Open Skies, All Business Class 757: Washington DC or New York to Paris
Flying on OpenSkies is like staying at a bed and breakfast. Instead of dealing with massive, hulking name brands and wrestling the mass of humanity at the airport, OpenSkies caters a boutique, luxury experience flying single-aisle, personal aircraft from the nation’s capitol or New York City directly into Paris Orly, the smaller airport on the south side of the city. Single rows of luscious, business class seats flank each side of the generously appointed aircraft, and if you’re in the mood you can even fly facing backwards while gloating at the quickly dissolving American coast. The best part of OpenSkies, however, is the oustanding prices. With frequent fare sales and an agressive marketing campaign it’s often easy to find tickets on this aircraft for just slightly more than a regular coach ticket on other airlines — and for that price it’s a steal. [Price at booking: $1981 for a Biz Seat,$4062 for a Biz Bed,]

5. Air New Zealand, Business Class on a 777: Los Angeles to Auckland
Private, lie-flat beds are a rarity on transoceanic flights out of the United States, and Air New Zealand does it right. The nose of this 777 hosts eleven rows of lie flat beds, all angled such that each person gets his or her own privacy, such that each person can get the best possible service and can relax and rest up on the 13 hour journey to the corner of the world. Add to that a fun loving group of friendly staff and a delightful destination and you’ve got a winning combination. [Price at booking: $7868,]

4. Singapore Airlines, All Business Class A340: New York City or Los Angeles to Singapore.
Most journeys from the east coast of the US to southeast Asia require a stopover somewhere on the west coast or in Japan. And almost all of the rest of the flights are in two or three class service aircraft, where four hundred people are jammed into a cramped, dank aluminum tube for the eight thousand mile journey. But not on Singapore’s all-business-class service. Consistently rated as top carrier on the planet, Singapore has taken an extra step with a portion of their NYC-SIN and LAX-SIN flights: they’re on full business class aircraft: 100 seats of 30″ wide seats, top notch catering and world class in flight service. In these digs, your 18 hour flight will go by in a flash. [Price at booking: $7400,]

3. V Australia, Business Class on a 777: Los Angeles to Sydney
V Australia brings all of the swankness of the Virgin brand to the transpacific route, from colorful, inflight cabins to inspiring, world class catering to a posh checkin and lounge experience. For the best experience, book seats 5H and K as a couple, where you can pull a series of curtains shut to create your own private cabin. Take in a movie or two on departure from Los Angeles and then get a full eight hours of sleep in a fully flat bed before you pull into Sydney — and did we mention that you get to keep the pajamas? [Price at booking: $5208,]

2. British Airways, First Class 747: Chicago or New York to London
The upper deck of a 747 is a special place to reside, but on the British Airways 747, you actually want to set up camp in the first floor nose — right under the pilot. That’s the section of the aircraft where first class passengers ride, where the full effect of in-flight pampering can be felt and where the stress of your London business trip can melt away. BA is in the process of rebuliding their first class service this year, but you can bet that it’ll remain the industry leader on this route either way. [Price at booking from Chicago: $8351,]

1. Emirates, First Class A380: New York to Dubai (pictured above)
The Emirates A380 has a mixed history with New York’s JFK, but when the service is running, it’s running hot. Emirates’ First Class service features a full host of over-the-top amenities, from private suites for each passenger to onboard showers to a bumpin onboard lounge. You’re going to pay dearly for the pleasure of flying though. [Price at booking: $17918,]

[Editor’s note: We know that the G6 isn’t an airplane. It’s a reference to the Far East Movement Song. Gangster? Get it?]

Galley Gossip: A flight attendant Christmas story

I graduated from flight attendant training on the 8th of December in 1995. Two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, my roommate and I were called out to work a trip – together. The crew scheduling God’s must have been smiling down on us that day because it’s not often a flight attendant gets to work with their roommate who also happens to be their best friend on reserve. Although we were scheduled to layover in Buffalo, or maybe it was Albany (I can’t remember), we knew we were lucky. By the way, that’s us in the photograph.

What I remember most is glancing out the window and seeing rooftops and – Oh. My. God! – we were seconds from landing and I still had first class meal trays out in the cabin! I ran like crazy to collect everything and lock it up in the galley before we touched ground, barely making it to my jump seat in time. The Captain never made the prepare for landing PA, even though he swore he did when I called him on it later, which is why I had no idea how close we were to landing. As if that weren’t stressful enough for a new-hire, things went from bad to worse (at least in my head it did) real quick.

As we taxied to the gate, I began to make an announcement, you know the one. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to….to….to -” Oh no…where the heck are we?! For the life of me I could not remember. My brain was shot after having flown to so many cities in just two weeks on the job. With my heart pounding like crazy, I frantically searched my pockets for the flight itinerary.

“Buffalo, we’re in Buffalo!” yelled a passenger. Or maybe he said Albany. I still can’t remember. But wherever we were that Christmas Eve, that’s when everyone on board started to laugh – at me. Mortified, I hung my head.

The following day my roommate and I wound up eating Christmas dinner out of a vending machine located on the second floor of our three-star hotel. The restaurant in the hotel was closed and there was nothing else open nearby. Although we would have been much happier eating turkey and dressing at home with our family and friends, we made the best of it with a couple packets of peanut butter crackers and Diet Coke. To this day, fifteen years later, it’s the most memorable Christmas I’ve ever had.

Four months later my roommate quit. I’ll never forget the day my cab pulled up to the curb outside our crash pad in Queens and I spotted her sitting on the stoop smiling from ear to ear. She couldn’t wait to tell me the big news. I hadn’t seen her look so happy since our first day of flight attendant training. The job is not for everyone, and being away from loved ones during the holidays certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

Today I still work for the same airline, and from time to time I still screw up. But not this Christmas! Seniority is everything at an airline and because I work out of New York, the most junior base in the system, I have the day off. New Years Eve, however, is a different story. So for those of you traveling to North Carolina in a few days, consider yourself warned.

NOTE TO SELF: North Carolina, North Carolina, I’m flying to North Carolina!

A special thanks to all the airline employees who went to work today! It’s because of them that many of you are having a very merry Christmas this year.

Photo courtesy of me! (Heather Poole)

Galley Gossip: Celebrity passenger claimed to have special powers

Tom Cruise.

It’s not often I get to start a Galley Gossip post with that name! But that’s the name several readers mentioned after I asked if they could guess which celebrity passenger offered to assist an unconscious woman with his “special powers” on the airplane. Honest to God, I wouldn’t joke about something as serious as this!

It’s interesting to note that Gary Busey, Depak Chopra, Uri Geller, and the Director General of the FBI were also mentioned as celebrities possibly possessing a very unique power. Tom Cruise, however, won the poll by a landslide with twenty-three votes. I wonder if Mr. Cruise is even aware that so many people believe him to be to powerful?!

“Tom Cruise has one power, jumping on Oprah’s couch!” said a reader named Jeff after I posed the question.

Another reader named Neil said, “It’s true. Tom Cruise had special powers over my wife at one time. She’s outgrown him though.”

Now that I’m thinking about it perhaps Tom Cruise does have – or had – special powers! Then again maybe I just have a lot in common with Neil’s wife! Whatever the case, I do know that the celebrity passenger in question was not Tom Cruise, or any one of the other people mentioned above. Unfortunately I am unable to name the passenger (I’d like to keep my job), but I will tell you exactly what happened. Just remember this is Galley Gossip, first class 767 galley gossip to be precise. That said I’m fairly certain the source is a reliable one.

THE STORY …Years ago a celebrity passenger boarded a flight in Dallas. He and his bodyguards took up the entire first class cabin. That’s twenty-two seats on a 757. At some point during boarding one of the bodyguards informed the lead flight attendant that while the celebrity usually didn’t mind signing autographs, he wasn’t feeling well that day and wanted to be left alone. He then told the flight attendant that no one in their party would be needing anything during the flight and that they didn’t want anyone passing through first class unless absolutely necessary. That included the flight attendants. I should mention here that this happened before 9/11. Later on in flight a passenger seated in coach went unconscious. As a flight attendant passed through first class to grab the medical equipment, the celebrity passenger stopped her to ask what was going on. After the flight attendant informed him of the situation, the celebrity offered his assistance, and that’s when he mentioned his special powers.

Did the unnamed celebrity really have special powers? Maybe. Maybe not. According to the flight attendant involved in the situation it was hard to tell if the unconscious passenger came to because the celebrity had touched her with his special power or because her husband had become so overly excited by such a hugely famous person trying helping his wife that he kept knocking her in the arm while exclaiming the celebrities name over and over again. Then again it could have been a combination of both. So don’t underestimate a star’s power!

Photo courtesy of Cristilive

Five indicators of the airline industry’s future: start with first and business class

Airlines are getting a little lucky. The big bucks and wider margins that come from first- and business-class fares are coming in faster than the nickels and dimes from economy class. This will delight the various airline industry employees who think that passengers aren’t paying enough, and it’s also a growth indicator.

According to the International Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, year-over-year growth slowed down in August relative to previous months, though this is due in part to the fact that August 2009 was the first month of the industry’s recovery, setting a higher bar for year-over-year growth than in the few months prior.

Nonetheless, airline sector growth is slowing down a bit, and not just because of the higher base in August for relative measurement. The total number of passengers traveling fell a little over 1 percent from July to August this year.

In August, first- and business-class passenger traffic surged 9.1 percent, following a 13.8 percent jump in July. Behind the special curtain that separates the elite from the proletariat, passenger traffic climbed 6.2 percent in August, following 8.8 percent in July.

So, where is the airline industry going this year? Here are five indicators to watch:

1. According to IATA‘s 230 members, demand for premium travel is up 17 percent relative to 2009 … but 99 percent of that hit in the first quarter of 2010.

2. Premium-class travel has leveled off since the end of Q1, but it’s uncertain if this is only a temporary state.

3. Business confidence is still positive, but it is inching downward. Premium markets remain 11 percent below the early 2008 peak, MSNBC reports.

4. Leisure travelers are even trying to help, with total economy travel up 11 percent from the depths it hit in 2009.

5. Month-over-month stagnation now may not say much about the future, according to IATA. Leading indicators point to growth of 5 percent to 6 percent a year.

[photo by Let Ideas Compete via Flickr]