The Fuzz wrote:Secondly the upgrade thing is probably more myth than anything else. If the agent at the gate recognizes that you are a black card member and understands what that means, then maybe they will do it for you just to be nice, but the fact is that most (and this is absolutely true) Centurion card holders who travel extensively are booking in first class to begin with. I know people personally who work in the travel department for American Express and after years of working there they can count on two hands how many coach class tickets they have booked. Generally these people don't fly coach when they are forced to fly commercial.
It is a myth in the way you describe.
Solely having a Centurion card does NOTHING for upgrades on airlines. Centurion benefits include elite status on several airlines; Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Continental, US Airways. The upgrade benefits that come with this elite status is what will give you the upgrade, not the Centurion status.
You could go and wave a Centurion card under the nose of the gate agent and they couldn't care less. Airlines in the US have strict guidelines and policies regarding the upgrading of elite frequent flyers and Centurion doesn't get you round these.
As for the Centurion cardholders themselves, it seems they are elevated to some kind of super elite. I know a few Centurion cardholders myself (in addition to receiving an invite when living in the UK - I turned it down!) and most of them are self employed and have the ability to funnel large amounts of company and travel expenses through their accounts. If you spend a lot of time on the road it really isn't hard to get into the $250k per year territory.
I can believe a lot of Centurion cardholders (in the US) either fly coach or pay for it and use their upgrade benefits gained from Centurion, or just flying outright, to get their seat in the front cabin.