This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

3 Tricks Cavemen Used to Get First-Class Seats

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's one of the most frustrating experiences in airline travel.

You try to negotiate an upgrade to first-class travel, only to be told no first-class seats are available.

But when your board the plane, three or four empty seats are in plain view.

Why did the airline give you the big brushoff? It may well have something to do with your nonverbal communication skills or, more specifically, your lack of them.

So says Mark Bowden, a Toronto-based body language expert and the author of the book Winning Body Language.

But if you dig deep and release your inner caveman (or cavewoman), you'll find yourself seated comfortably in first-class on that flight, and at a good price, Bowden says. It's all about tapping into the true language of airline travel upgrades, and it turns out that includes nonverbal skills used by cave dwellers thousands of years ago.

Prehistoric humans didn't use verbal language to signal they wanted a fire lit or a mastodon taken down for the big feast Friday night. "Basic body language" got those tasks done, and the same holds true today for airline consumers looking to advance their traveling status.

In general, Bowden says, the sunnier the nonverbal disposition, the better.

"It's generally shown across the planet that open body language and a smile will create an unconscious reaction in the recipient to want to give back to you -- be it an upgrade, a better seat or a free drink," he says.

Bowden advises using the following caveman-like nonverbal gestures (he calls them "Neanderthal nuances") to land that cushy seat in first class time and time again:

  • Be a prehistoric pal. Show your sunny side when approaching a decision-maker who can expedite your first-class seat. "That comes in handy when meeting upgrade gatekeepers," Bowden says. "By opening your arms in a welcoming way, you show others you mean no harm. A smile is a great addition."
  • Show your minimalist side. This one requires you to verbalize a request, but with a twist. When you sidle up to an airline attendant and ask, "Hey, do I see an empty seat in first class?" raise your eyebrow ever-so-gently when you do so. "Sometimes less is more," Bowden says. "By slightly raising your eyebrows you will be perceived as an approachable person." And it's approachable people who win first-class seats.
  • Try an eye crinkle. It's no use trying to get away with a fake smile -- the airline attendant will know it. But if you smile while showing the wrinkles around eyes, you'll appear more genuine and hike your odds of getting into first class.

Whatever you do, don't show any signs of anger, verbal or nonverbal. Even so-called "polite pleading" will turn a flight attendant off; they're used to being treated rudely by travelers, but that doesn't mean they like it.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,614.81 +215.14 1.31%
S&P 500 1,941.28 +37.27 1.96%
NASDAQ 4,419.4780 +103.4040 2.40%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs