How many times have you boarded an aircraft and looked longingly at the plush first or business class cabin, before heading to your seat in the crowded economy section? The simple solution to getting one of the premium seats is to buy a premium priced ticket, but these can be many times more expensive than sitting in the economy cabin. Some lucky travellers know the inside tips and tricks which they use on a regular basis and get upgraded to the expensive seats, for free. Here’s how to do it…
If you know anyone who works for an airline you are travelling with, ask them if there is anything they can do to pull some strings for you. They might not have any influence as different airlines have their own policies, but there is no harm in asking.
When booking your tickets, if you have a title such as Doctor etc. listed on your passport, use it when booking. Dr Smith is more likely to get upgraded than Miss Smith or Mr Jones. Solo travellers also have a better chance of being upgraded than those travelling as part of a larger party.
Look the Part
There is no need to turn up at the airport wearing your most glamorous clothing and dripping in diamonds. However, if you look smart enough to pass for someone on a business trip, you are more likely to get picked out of the crowd than someone in ripped jeans and a faded t-shirt. Glamorous clothing or a smart outfit may help your chances, but your behaviour is even more important. Be polite, smile and make life as easy as possible for the airline staff and they might just think you’re exactly the sort of person to fill that empty seat in Business class.
Don’t lie about it, but if you are on your honeymoon, or if it’s your anniversary, let the check in staff know. They don’t always have the flexibility to upgrade you, but knowing that you’re celebrating can push you to the top of the list. Even if it doesn’t result in an upgrade, staff may be able to offer you extras such as a free glass of champagne, access to the business class lounge or priority baggage reclaim at your destination.
One of the main ways in which an airline decides who should be upgraded is to prioritise passengers who are members of their frequent flyer scheme. Most of these schemes have tiered membership, and the more often you fly the higher up the tree you climb. Make sure you book using your frequent flyer number, and also present your card at the check-in desk too.
If the airline has overbooked and asks for volunteers to wait a few hours for a later plane, or asks you to give up your seat so a family can sit together, always agree. You’re not guaranteed an upgrade, but airlines often choose to reward accommodating customers in this manner.
A great article by our guest blogger M. Peers. Peers has a constant urge to travel, managing to upgrade her seats frequently.