If You Recognize This Man in the Airport, He’ll Upgrade Your Flight to First Class or Give You a Free Hotel Suite

Gilbert Ott
Photo: Courtesy of Gilbert Ott

Do you recognize this man?

If not, look again. Closely. You’ll want to commit this face to memory:

It’s the face of Gilbert Ott.

You may recognize Ott, the blogger and frequent flier behind God Save the Points, for his viral “Catch Me If You Can” campaign a couple of years back. While Ott was jetting around the world in 2017, he offered travelers the chance to swap their economy class seats for his business or first class seats if they recognized him at the airport. During the contest, Ott managed to upgrade 40 people, “which just felt cool,” he told Travel + Leisure. This year, he’s bringing the contest back — only this time there are even more prizes and chances to win.

First class seats
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Ott has partnered with Capital One Venture to trick out the contest for 2019. In addition to the flight upgrades, travelers could also win a night at a hotel suite, tickets to sold-out James Beard dinners, and other goodies along the way. And they don’t need to have a flight scheduled to win.

If you miss Ott at the airport, you can try to spot him in the city. His travels will take him into New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, and D.C., where he’ll be giving away prizes like Michelin-starred dinners and nights at luxe hotel suites.

“I had a concept to make the contest more accessible to people who couldn’t necessarily afford to travel, who might just want a night of R&R and amusement,” Ott told T+L. “I asked Capital One to help me book some crazy hotels and they said yes, so it enabled me to try and make it more fun for more people across the USA.”

And there are some truly crazy hotel suites up for grabs. Two lucky people who spot him in New York will be handed the keys to the Penthouse Suite at New York’s Plaza Hotel. And to live like Kevin McAllister for the day the hotel is even arranging ice cream sundaes for winners. Ott is also giving away rooms at the One Hotel Miami Beach and the Four Seasons in D.C.

Plaza Hotel
Getty Images

You won’t be able to game the system to win these rooms though. It won’t work if you spot him in the hotel lobby, but “anywhere else you find me (a la ‘Where’s Waldo’) in the city, airport, subway, whatever is fair game,” Ott told T+L.

The first opportunity to catch him is in Dubai on a flight bound for JFK on Dec. 1, he told T+L. Afterward, he’ll be on flights from New York JFK to Miami, Miami to LAX, Los Angeles to Seattle, Seattle to Boston, and Boston to D.C.

You’ll have to work quickly. Ott won’t switch if you only spot him once you’ve boarded the plane. As soon as he steps foot on the jet bridge, he is headed for his luxurious seat and you’ll be left to brood in economy class.

But that is unlikely to happen. In 2017, news about the contest went viral and Ott was regularly recognized at the airport. “British Airways jumped on board when the games began to grow and gave me some extra upgrades to give away,” he told T+L, “but didn’t tell me that they were showing everyone at check-in my picture. So when I got to the gate, people started like running up to me like I had free Gold Yeezys or something. It was nuts.”

Even if you don’t recognize Ott, your good behavior might earn you an upgrade. On one particular flight when Ott had procured four upgrades, he got to the gate and found “parents actually playing with their (seemingly) nice kids on the floor, rather than handing them iPads, so they all went from economy to flatbeds,” he told T+L.

The last chance to grab him in the U.S. will be on a British Airways flights on Dec. 8. Ott will board a flight from JFK to Heathrow in the early evening, with five giveaways in his hands. Be on the lookout — and on your best behavior.

For more hints, follow Ott on Instagram or the hashtag #WheresGilbert where he’ll be dropping clues on how to catch him.

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