I have been travelling around the world in premium cabins for quite a long periode of time now. And in all those years with the different kinds of premium status I onced hold and still hold. I have not experieced any non rev upgrading from my preferred airlines which I hold with premium status. I only experienced onced in all those flown flights —an unheralded upgrading to the next higher class at the gate. I was surprised and happy of course( I was once as QF FF Gold at that moment and it was in LHR T4 –flight to LHR-SYD) I hate to expect an upgrade from the side of the airline unheralded and wanting to get upgraded for such flights desperately and thinking with my status I will be getting it. As I want to plan my comfort for my flights I normally sacrifice my miles for a booked upgrade when flying C or Prem Y ticket.
I often see other pax being struck by the upgrade fairy or just being bumped up due to overloading by considering their status holding. Generally those who are loyal to their airlines deserve to get such gratitude from time to time–why not?
Regarding to the topic of this thread–I have not experienced yet that the cabin managers on board my flights will obviously upgrade someone or giving someone the outmost advantage on that flight above others. If such cabin crew do that obviously in full awareness of the other pax on board than I definitely believe this person or these persons do not belong in such positions. They should act professionally and giving( at least trying hard in the eyes of the pax ) their outmost best to comfort every pax’s needs on board. They are responsible for everyone on board !!
Those airlines ( actually due to peronal experiences ) –mostly US airlines and their cabin crews/cockpit crews/employees tend to favourise their own family/friends etc.. for an upgrade. Personally I care less, if I do not know all the backgrounds. I am content with my seat and flight as long as I do not feel disadvantaged about it and definitely not obviuosly being treated badly or less comparing to other pax on board–than as an honest person (regardless of paid class or loyalty status) I definitely go to the responsible crew and tell him/her in diplomatic tone about the issue. Now it is his/her part to counterpoint my view. And now you will see–how professional those crews are and if they have done their homework in how to deal with these matters successfully!!