First Class Upgrade
May 23, 2012 Airline Travel
Few things are as appealing in travel as a first class upgrade. Ironically, many people never take the time to discover how to get an upgrade. Consider various approaches to getting into first class and see how easy it is to put them into action. Some of the simplest strategies can yield excellent results.
It's also important to keep in mind that there are delicate matters when it comes to moving up to first class for little or no money. The way you conduct yourself makes a significant impact on the possibility of getting an upgrade, whether it is on the flight or in the hotel.
You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade into first class. Researching your available options while engaging staff with your excellent communication skills are great approaches to moving up for little or no money.
Anyone can try these basic strategies for snagging a seat in first class. Some are simple common sense approaches that few practice. They might not work in many cases, but they are worth a try.
Dress for first class
Airlines are more likely to upgrade a passenger who is well dressed. Dressing as if you expect to fly first class or business class is an important aspect. Airlines may shy away from upgrading a person wearing athletic shoes and sweatpants.
Get to know the staff
Regular fliers can benefit from their loyalty to a certain airline as well as their pleasant manner in which they treat the staff. If you fly frequently, it behooves you to become familiar with the staff members who will be more than happy to accommodate their favorite travelers.
Ask for an upgrade
This approach isn't going to work the majority of the time, especially if you make the request with a ticket agent. The ticket agent usually has no control over such matters. However, it doesn't hurt to inquire. Better yet, the ticket agent can code your ticket to let the staff on the plane know that you are eligible for an upgrade.
Use your connections
If you know people who work in the industry, ask them to help you. If you are a travel agent, make sure to communicate this to the staff. While frequent fliers are on the top of the list for upgrades, agents are often close behind.
They say that the early bird catches the worm, and in this case, the early bird can catch the upgrade. If the airline has a choice between two passengers, they are most likely to upgrade the passenger who arrives first.
Passengers who are willing to wait for the next flight because of overbooking may be upgraded to first class in some cases. The more accommodating you are with the airline, the more accommodating the airline will be with you.
The strategies you use to book your tickets can make all the difference in your ability to get an upgrade through the airline. Making smart purchases can make all the difference in your attempt to get an upgrade.
Use a travel agent
Airlines are trying to grow a loyal following of professionals who travel regularly. A travel agent can mark your ticket with a not under Other Significant Information (OSI), alerting the staff that you are a VIP traveler for another airline. The competition for your regular business may be enough to motivate the staff to move you into first class.
Take the direct approach
While your travel agent can help you in many cases, it may be beneficial to book with the airline directly. The airline can take note of OSI details about you. It behooves you to let them know if you are a travel writer, event planner, or travel agent when you book directly.
Buy a coach ticket at full fare and ask for an upgrade
This surprising approach can work well because some airlines have a code that automatically allows people who pay full fare in coach to move to first class if a seat is available. However, this doesn't happen automatically. You have to request an upgrade.
Call the airline
The more you communicate the better your chances are to get an upgrade. Ask the airline the price of a coach ticket with first class seating privileges costs. Keep in mind that the ticket is most likely non-refundable.
Purchase discounted first class tickets
Use your resources to compare prices. You may find that you can purchase a first class ticket at discounted prices. The first class tickets are still going to be more expensive than coach is, but the price difference may be surprisingly small.
Flight Attendant Help
Your flight attendant can be a great resource for getting into first class. Simply asking for an upgrade is not always going to do the trick. If you spot an available seat in first class, consider some of the legitimate reasons that an attendant can move you up.
- Overbooking can be a considerable problem for airlines. When a flight is oversold, the airline is in a tricky position. Sometimes there are too many passengers in coach. Make sure to book a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible. Volunteering for a later flight can also lead to an upgrade or some other generous compensation from the airline.
- Bad company on a flight is no laughing matter. Few things are as miserable as sitting next to a troublesome passenger. If you have a legitimate complaint about the person sitting next to you, discuss the problem discretely and politely with the flight attendant. You may have an opportunity to change your seat.
- A malfunctioning seat is a serious problem that requires a move. If there is no room in coach and your seat is not working properly, you may be moved to business or first class. This is a very rare occurrence but you should communicate any problems with your seating as soon as you notice a problem.
The old notion that nothing is free can apply to airline upgrades. While you can expect to get an upgrade on occasion, the potential for moving up to first class without spending a dime isn't always realistic. Buying an upgrade may be the most reliable approach to getting into first class without spending too much money in the process.
You are more likely to get a great deal on an upgrade if you purchase it on the same day that you fly. Not all airlines allow people to buy an upgrade when they check in but if the airline permits you to buy one at the gate, take advantage of the opportunity. The airline is motivated to do this because it is better to make a little money on a first class upgrade than have an unused first class seat making no money.
Know your ticket. Some airline tickets simply are not eligible for an upgrade. As a rule of thumb, you can generally get an upgrade if you pay full fare for coach. However, some discount tickets are still eligible for upgrades in some circumstances.
While a Y-Up fare isn't technically considered to be an upgrade, it is definitely cheaper than paying full fare for first class. Airlines have different names for the purchases. You may see them as Q-Ups among other designations. Right now, North American flights offer these specials that code first class tickets at economy fares.
You can purchase virtually anything on EBay it seems and this includes first class upgrades. You can also purchase cheap upgrades through some travel forums. Cheaper deals require you to wait until check-in to make sure that they are valid while options that are more expensive typically allow you to confirm via telephone before arriving at the airport. Upgrades have been sold for very little money, some as low as eight dollars.
Dos and Don'ts
Your presence and personality can take you straight into first class seating or they can put you in the worst seat on the plane. Consider some simple dos and don'ts while planning your strategy. The little details can make all the difference in your flight experience.
Do be pleasant
This is especially important if you are a regular flier. Your politeness can take you into first class if you are tenacious.
Don't be demanding
You want to act the part of a first class passenger but this doesn't mean that you should be a diva.
Do be flexible
The more willing you are to work with the airline, the more willing the staff will be to work with you.
Don't be pushy
You may really want the upgrade, but being too persistent can cause you to become a thorn in the staff's side.
Do be appreciative
The crew is happy to see when a passenger is willing to share his outstanding travel experience. Demonstrating that you are likely to appreciate an upgrade will increase your chances.
Do not be threatening
Making a scene is going to do little for your cause. The airline isn't going to cave to aggressive demands and childish behavior.
Do be patient
This is especially important when things go wrong. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you are in a good position for an upgrade if you are patient and accommodating.
Don't be presumptuous
Assuming that you will automatically get an upgrade can work against you in some cases. If you demonstrate patience and understanding, the staff is more likely to return the favor. However, if you are presuming that you should get special treatment, you are likely to be disappointed.
Don't make a scene
The airline isn't in the position to give everyone an upgrade just for asking. Those who are loud about the upgrades are not likely to be granted one. Making demands and showing off your upgrade just makes the situation difficult for the staff.
Do be discrete
The airline appreciates customers who are discrete about their upgrades, especially when others on the same flight are not getting them.
Do use your frequent flier status when necessary
If you have earned frequent flier miles, make the most of them.