It’s pretty difficult to get an upgrade to business class for free. Most airlines have their own policies on how they allocate upgrades. In general, airlines tend to give upgrades to those who already hold elite status. Having said that, there may be the odd occasion where you can get lucky and be offered an upgrade. Even though it is very difficult to get an upgrade, it’s not impossible. Here are top tips that will maximize your chances of scoring an elusive upgrade:
Airlines will often overbook flights and will need to bump someone from economy or premium economy up to business. It’s easier for airlines to move one passenger around compared to a group booking.
Travel with People Who Hold Elite Airline Status
If you are travelling in a group, it helps be on the same booking with friends or family that are gold or platinum frequent flyers. For example, say on a trip home from Sydney you were travelling with two friends who both held Platinum velocity status. While you were in the lounge you might have approached the service desk and inquired as to the availability of free business class seats – turns out there was an open seat (see point 3).
Just Ask for
For some reason, people are afraid to ask for an upgrade. Sometimes it is difficult to count the number of times you’ve been rejected by check-in staff when you’ve inquired about the possibility of an upgrade. Having said this, you can manage to score an upgrade just by asking. It never hurts to ask. If you have lounge access, you can always ask at the lounge service desk if you get a negative response at the check-in desk.
When you’re about to check in, try to look for a check-in attendant who hasn’t had to deal with a difficult passenger, a staff member in a bad mood won’t want to help you. Be sure to act the part by dressing appropriately, smile, be charming and make conversation. Mentioning that you’re celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, probably won’t hurt your chances.
Have Flexible Travel Arrangements
If an airline does severely oversell a flight, volunteer to give up your seat and take the next available flight. This puts you in a pretty good bargaining position and if you’re not offered an upgrade on your next flight you can request one.
Airlines Stuff Up Sometimes
Further to point 5, if for some reason an airline causes you significant inconvenience, request an upgrade — you might be lucky. Be firm but polite.
Pay for One or Use Miles
Some airlines will allow you to purchase an upgrade at check-in. The cost is usually significantly less than paying for a full business class fare, and if there is availability it might be worth offering some cash. Alternatively, if you have spare frequent flyer miles it might be worth using them for an upgrade.
About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is a writer at college essay writing service. There he shares his experience of traveling all over the world.