I had read about the $5 flight upgrade before and whilst it was perhaps culturally inappropriate in Australia, today I tried it on when flying to Melbourne.
It’s a really simple tactic and it worked so much better than I could have hoped.
Here’s how it works, and how it worked for me today.
On the way to the flight I stopped and bought a big bag of M&M’s, one of the family sized bags for $5. As I walked to board the flight attendant checked my boarding pass and I walked into the chute from the terminal to the plane. But there seemed to be a problem, no one was getting from the chute onto the plane and everyone was just standing around.
When I say standing around, we were there for 30 minutes between the terminal and the plane. People were getting upset, starting to complain to each other and sighing, loudly! (That’s Australian for yelling). There’s only so much a crowd member can check phone status on a Sunday after all.
I started to think will this $5 flight upgrade work? Was it too much or too corny? I knew I shouldn’t doubt myself and it was now or never.
Finally we were moving and I got to the plane door to board the plane. With all the sighing and complaining between passengers in the queue I thought the flight attendants must be feeling the pain. As a regular travelled I know sometimes things happen, you just cope and move on. This thinking that the flight attendants were feeling the pain was confirmed when I overheard two talking and saying “you need to have a thick skin for this job”. And that’s when I knew that I had to do the $5 upgrade.
So it was my turn to approach the plane door and present my boarding pass. I stepped up and handed over my pass and then immediately handed the flight attendant the bag of M&M’s saying “these are for you to share with your co-workers, I just want to share a smile with you guys”. m and ms
She was speechless and didn’t know what to say or how to respond, I suspect that no one has ever done that to her before. I think after what seemed to be a big problem boarding her mind wasn’t anywhere near being thanked. She had a facial expression I have seen only once before, when I surprised my son Reece with a MacBook Air for his birthday. Just stunned and delighted, unable to respond.
See the $5 flight upgrade doesn’t get you a different seat, or better meals, it makes someone who wants to serve you (and make you happy) a lot happier. In a small way this then makes everyone on the flight happier.

Later in the flight I walked to the back of the plane and the M&M’s were the talk of the crew. As I waited for the toilet another flight attendant said ” would you like some M&M’s?” She explained that they all wanted to know who gifted the M&M’s and that they had made her day. The other flight attendant then shows me how he mixed them with his chocolate dessert.
Quite possibly the best $5 I have spent and it certainly upgraded my flight. I will be doing this upgrade again!

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