American Airlines Agent Upgrades Pastor to First Class On a Whim

by Anthony Losanno
AA Agent

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There are articles posted all the time talking about ways to get upgraded. Some give bogus advice like dress nicely, ask politely, etc. These almost never work. Apparently, if you want to get an upgrade (while not following the airline’s policy), you just need to be a pastor and find the right agent to break the rules.

Pastor John MacArthur of True Gospel Ministries in Brooklyn was in Indianapolis for a conference. It appears that his flight home was delayed and the agent assisting him decided that she would upgrade him to First Class on the spot because she recognized him as a popular pastor.

This is wrong on many levels and the agent might have put herself in a position to be reprimanded as agents cannot just choose who they would like to upgrade based on their religious beliefs or who they like. Looking at this pastor’s Instagram, it’s clear that he is looking for attention and not a very humble pastor (his Louis Vuitton bag also gives this away). Anyone can start a church and as Karl Marx famously said religion is the “opium of the people” or “opium of the masses.” Thinking that this guy needs an upgrade to better pedal his religious beliefs falls right in line here. I wonder if she would have upgraded another religious figure or an atheist with the same gusto.

Anthony’s Take: The agent should follow the policies set by the airline for upgrades and not decide to bump up this passenger based on her religious beliefs or personal preference. Hopefully, American Airlines addresses this and retrains this agent as needed.

(Image Credit: jdmgrp via Instagram.)

(H/T: Live and Let’s Fly.)

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Christian July 17, 2023 - 4:16 pm

Well said!

Ed July 17, 2023 - 4:18 pm

I thought religious leaders were supposed to be humble and embrace the lower classes. Something like the poor and the meek inherit the earth. Agree, airline agents should never get to set upgrade preferences. It leads to favoritism and possible corruption.

Pat July 17, 2023 - 4:22 pm

What Anthony said.
What Christian said.
What Ed said.

Anon July 18, 2023 - 12:43 am

This could be a borderline race / religious issue cuz not many black POC usually fly first class in a political sense I already see race wars happening in workplaces the Jim Crow affect is still there

MIndYaOwn July 20, 2023 - 9:10 am

Amen. This coming from a “white girl”. This entire post is absolutely petty. Let me guess, she should’ve upgraded any old Joe Schmoe. Like it or not, first class is either paid for, earned, or extended. It’s literally none of any passengers business, if they didn’t straight up pay for it or earn it. making it about religion is absolutely hateful and violates her own right to respect. Way to go, get this woman fired overextending a courtesy just because you didn’t like how it got extended to. What a freaking world.

MUDD July 18, 2023 - 1:14 am

Then again, maybe she just upgraded him.
“Looking at this pastor’s Instagram, it’s clear that he is looking for attention and not a very humble pastor…”
So you’ve got this guy pegged just by looking at an Instagram for a few minutes…wow. So you trash him on the blog because he accepted a free upgrade to first class.
It seems Anthony needs to spend a little more time looking in the mirror.
I won’t even give the time of day to the other ridiculous comments here.

Christian July 18, 2023 - 2:08 am

“Every delay is in your favor…” I don’t think she gave the pastor a free upgrade. It sounds like he was already on the upgrade list, and an upgrade became available for him due to the delay… We don’t even know the full story, yet you’re jumping to conclusions and hating on him because he’s a pastor… Lol I doubt you would care enough to make a blog post if he were any other person. Maybe if you followed the teachings of one of the religions you call “opium of the masses” you’d be a less vengeful person… I used to be a bitter atheist, too!

Jim July 18, 2023 - 6:42 pm

That is probably the case. If he is a famous pastor, he probably flies a lot, earning priority status, which can lead to free upgrades.

Erick July 18, 2023 - 7:17 am


Matt July 18, 2023 - 10:47 am

Would you be writing this same article if this was a different type of “celebrity” getting upgraded? Your article reveals you bias against this man based on him being religious. Would you write that any one else was looking for attention based solely on the type of bag they have? I don’t know who this pastor is and plenty aren’t as pious or focused on what they should be, but that doesn’t allow you to discriminate. Check your own bias before you call out that of this agent or anyone else!

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno July 18, 2023 - 10:59 am

I’d write it about anyone that jumps the line and gets an upgrade before the next person entitled to it by program rules. I don’t care if they’re an actor, sports figure, politician, or religious figure. The rules should be followed.

Jaycee July 19, 2023 - 2:24 pm

So you’re just assuming right? That’s the problem you’re assuming he jumped the line and tell us, what makes you assume that?

Mark July 19, 2023 - 5:30 pm

It is so common now to read about Televangelist scandals, filthy rich ministers with private jets, begging for $ but worth millions – so it’s not outrageous to be suspiscous.

Anon July 20, 2023 - 5:23 am

I wonder if you would have written this article in the same fashion had it been Joel Osteen or Pat Robertson… this op ed was clearly written with a bias.

Kimberly Chandler July 20, 2023 - 8:04 am

How do you know that the agent gave him an upgrade on a whim? Were you part of the conversation, or are you assuming? Agents have enough grief to deal with, they don’t need bloggers with micro aggressions to add more fire to the pile. Was it because there were two black people involved that got your spidey senses going? You are way out of line, and don’t bother to say you can’t be a bigot because you drop a dollar in a beggars cup. You’re still a bigot.

WhiteGirl July 20, 2023 - 9:17 am

OMG. Y’all, the “about“ link on this page. This guy is all about being upgraded. He’s all about flashing us. And he dares to call out a pastor in that regard. Jealous much? Sounds a whole lot like an entitled butt hurt racist at work. and I am white so there’s that.

Anonymous July 20, 2023 - 2:02 pm

AA gate agent here. The system will not let you upgrade anyone – your pastor, your mother, the Pope, ANYONE, on a whim. If he got an upgrade, he was next on the list. Everything else was theater. This is a nothing burger.

And for the person who said POC don’t fly first class, I suspect you’ve never flown first class. There are as many POC in first class as any other type of person on any given day. This is all ridiculous.

Patrick July 23, 2023 - 2:14 pm

Why do you care? It could be you next time. Choose your battles.


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