Frequent Flyer, Michael Freedman, is an upgrade expert. He’s agreed to share his frequent flying secrets with us. Read on for some nifty tips on boosting your upgrade chances.
Want to increase your chances of flying in First? Follow these expert tips for improving your frequent flyer status and see the points come flooding in!
Investing time and effort into improving your frequent flyer status is one of the best ways of improving your upgrade chances.
Airlines have a complex scoring system (which they often deny exist) to rank you and your worth to the airline. This is how they usually determine upgrades in advance.
The most obvious way to enhance your score is to fly a lot. But there are several little-known tactics for gaining points and status:
1) Choose Your Airline Wisely
Do some serious research regarding the best airline to reward with your loyalty from a points perspective. For example, BMI is a great airline to consider for the following reasons:
- Superb points redemption value using their miles plus cash option
- Low status threshold – silver is 15k and from there to gold is 38k, which is pretty low
- BMI Gold cardholders gain access to ALL Star Alliance lounges and the spectacular Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow regardless of cabin class.
2) Earn Points on the Ground
There are countless ways to earn Frequent Flying miles without flying! It’s possible to rack up a lot of miles by concentrating your spending on the right credit card and by accruing points from hotel stays, car hire etc..
Some banks will even pay miles instead of interest on deposits and there are loads of promotions and bonuses to be found if you look hard enough. So remember to ask about air miles whatever the purchase is!
3) Book in Premium Coach
If you pay a little more to travel in Premium Coach the difference in price will not only increase your chances of being upgraded to Business, but also earn you a load of extra Frequent Flyer miles.
4) Upgrade Your Fare Class
When airlines talk about booking class, they don’t just mean which cabin you sit in. They also mean fare class, ie. regular coach, flexible coach etc.
Whilst the difference in price between these fare classes can be very small, the number of miles you accrue, and the seniority you gain in line for an upgrade, can be very significant.
Always check with a travel agent what your specific fare options are. This can form part of a long-term strategy to help you gain and retain Frequent Flyer status.
5) Pay Attention to Status Points
On most Frequent Flyer programs, there are two sets of points – miles flown and personal status. Your best way of getting and keeping Frequent Flyer status, and of getting upgrades, is to ensure you select fares that earn you a good number of status points.
6) Book a “Status Run”
Following on from above, certain routes have disproportionately high yields of miles and status points; these “status runs” vary from year to year but can be found quite easily by checking Frequent Flyer forums, for example an old favorite is British Airways from Doha to Bahrain in First Class for about £300 (also a nice way to experience the wonders of First for an hour!)
7) Control a Corporate Travel Budget
An alternative tactic, if you own your own business, is to control a corporate travel budget. If the airlines are aware that you’re the key decision-maker for a lot of potential revenue, or even just the PA who just books the flights, they will try hard to schmooze you!
Several airlines openly offer personal incentive schemes for this, and most have a corporate incentive scheme – where small business owners can claim for their staff then get the occasional ticket for free (or use the points to upgrade themselves)!
8 ) Trade Your Points
Within the US there are perfectly legal sites that let you trade and purchase other people’s Frequent Flyer points (which you can use to upgrade). I upgraded my parents on a recent transatlantic flight this way for about $500.
9) Buy Miles on Sale
Airlines themselves sometimes have “mileage sales”, for example US Air are currently selling 100k miles for just £900 – a bargain if you consider 120k miles are enough to fly from the UK to New Zealand in biz class!
Are you Silver or Gold?? Got more tips for boosting your frequent flyer status? Let us know!
If you liked this, you might also like: 15 Ways to Fly Like a VIP (Without Paying VIP Prices).
P.S. for bespoke advice on how to enhance your own frequent flyer status and how to get upgraded for cheap or free, contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.