Let's face it no-one likes to travel economy class on any airline. It seems almost every few years, the seating is becoming more narrow and the leg room more constricting. So if you are game why not try some of these tips out next time you are heading out on a flight to see if you can score an upgrade.
Before we look at some of the strategies that may or may not work, it can be useful to know how airlines think about who deserves the champagne treatment, and although airlines might use differing policies, the rules of the game are about the same.
Airlines won't upgrade just because they have unsold seats in the class above the one you're sitting in. In years gone by this used to be the case, however it's rare for freebies like that to occur these days. The logic behind this change is that if airlines offered upgrades that some passengers could count on, what would be the point of charging a premium price for first or business class seating.
1. The Early Bird Catches The Worm
On approach to the check-in counter if you notice there is a growing line to check luggage, then you can bet there is also a line to get any upgrades, so it can really pay off in the upgrade stakes to get to the airport as early as possible. With some airlines, travelers are able to request an upgrade immediately after purchasing their ticket. Like most things that are limited, it's on a first come / first served basis.
2. Leverage You New Lounge Buddy Acquaintances
In some airport lounges airline agents are able to pull some strings on your behalf, so make friends there. These agents know they have experienced customers in front of them who are likely to remain loyal if they are treated well.
3. Gift Giving
Through the gift of generosity, it's entirely possible to acquire an upgrade and receive priority access, lounge access, or a seat upgrade by giving the ticketing agent a good bottle of wine or a box of chocolates that, uh, shame really … it just didn’t fit in my luggage!
4. Business Traveler Avoidance Technique
Business travelers will nearly always beat a casual holidaymaker in the battle to win an upgrade, simply because they’ve got an elite status that seems to ooze from their pores after years of regular business travel.
According to Warren Chang, the vice president of fly.com getting an upgrade can be much easier when there are fewer business travelers on the plane. So it's best to select a flight which is scheduled to depart either flying midday, midweek, or on weekends.
5. Be Kind
The gift of kindness almost always pays off, so why not get it paid forward to you, after all what have you got to lose. One passenger recently recounted his kindness experience as follows:
'I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her...all the way up to business class!'
6. Dress For Success
People generally make an assessment of others in just a few seconds, so leave the tracksuit at home and dress in either formal or business casual on the day you are flying out.
7. Go For It
Sometimes you just need to summon up the courage and ask. Of course the airline representative could always say no, but what have you got to lose? Dress well, be nice, smile sweetly and a 'please' might just be enough to get you over the line after all.
Have you got a good flight upgrade tip or story?