Jonathan Marks, a global investment banker and frequent flier has an envious track record of bagging flight upgrades. He’s agreed to share his secrets, helping us to reach that first class cabin!
Ah the elusive flight upgrade. Everyone wants one but noone knows how. Read on for my upgrade secrets, guaranteed to improve your chances of flying like a VIP.
Everyone likes getting something for nothing but it’s even sweeter when you’re surrounded by people who’ve paid full whack or haven’t quite made it as one of the chosen few.
Perhaps this seems tad mean, a little mercenary.. but let’s be honest, deep down we know it’s true.
So now that we’ve agreed we’re more than happy to leave our colleagues/friends/partners languishing behind in couch class, here are my tried and tested methods for securing that elusive flight upgrade:
If you don’t ask, you rarely get. Be up-front and cheeky rather than shy and apologetic. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be you that gets the upgrade.
2. Engage in check-in banter
Not all upgrades are confirmed at check-in. They are often allocated at the boarding gate when the airline has the full picture re. check-ins and no-shows (business travelers often fly on flexible tickets).
Working at a check-in desk is not the most thrilling of experiences. Make it more enjoyable for the airline staff and they will remember you.
There is then every chance you’ll find a nice surprise waiting for you when you go to board the plane.
3. Travel alone
There are not many seats available for upgrades and those that are tend to be given to passengers traveling alone.
If you don’t mind being separated from your travel companion, then book and check-in separately. You never know, you might both get upgraded!
4. Find out if the flight is over-booked
Often if a flight is over-booked the airline will be looking for volunteers to take a later flight.
If this is the case, and depending on where the volunteers were sitting, this may free up some seats for upgrades. Why not offer to take one of them? Just to be helpful of course!
5. Get an airline membership/loyalty card
Airlines store a lot of information on their passengers, including whether you are a loyal customer or cardholder.
Bear in mind that cardholders almost always get priority when there are seats available for upgrades.
6. Travel in August or over Christmas and New Year
Business travel is much lower at these times meaning a reduced demand for premium classes.
Airlines still want to fill flights and therefore overbook their economy cabin. This means they’ll need to bump people up to ensure everyone gets on the flight.
One sign that they have done this is if they are offering cheap upgrade deals at check-in.
7. Take advantage of special deals
The difference between Economy and Premium Economy is much smaller than Premium Economy and Business.
If you are offered a cheap upgrade to Premium Economy and take it, there is every chance you’ll get to jump another class to Business.
OK, you had to pay something extra, but the size of the leap and your odds of being chosen will be significantly improved.
8. Exploit special occasions
Honeymoons and anniversaries are great reasons to ask for an upgrade. But your chances will increase with some forward thinking.
First, let your travel agent know in advance and get them to note it in the booking. Second, take proof to present to the airline at check-in. As you would imagine, they may be skeptical otherwise!
So there you have it, 8 precious pieces of advice that have worked well for me. Go forth and enjoy the fruits of first class, good luck!
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Been upgraded recently? got more tips? Post up your comments below and let us know!
Photo: Jonathan on a recent trip to Japan.