Whether one will admit it or not, everyone wants to fly or get upgraded to first class or at the very least business class. The problem is that most people either cannot justify the price or are unable to afford to pay the exorbitant prices that these seats are sold at. However all is not lost and I am going to give you 10 tips on how to get upgraded and show you that there are a variety of ways for one to be able to fly first class without having to pay the high price. The only thing you need to do is to do a little research and with a minimum of effort you too can have good chance of sitting in one of those comfortable seats.
Check Business Fares
This is the easiest and most overlooked option in finding a cheap business fare. Most people go to a airfare search site like CheapOAir Bookings.com and look for just the rate for coach class. However if you take just a few seconds more and check what the first class or business class fare is for that same flight you just MAY be surprised. Sometimes although not often, the business fare is not THAT much more then the coach!
Fly When Business Travelers Aren’t
Keep in mind that Monday is the cheapest day to book airline ticket whereas Saturday is the most expensive day to book the flights. The most expensive day to fly is Sunday, when the cheapest day to fly is Friday.
Below are some of the better times of the year to go somewhere if you want to increase the likelihood of an upgrade:
- The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas
- The week after New Years
- Mid-March to Mid-May
Lastly business seats are easier to get on flights to or from second-tier or airports, for example flying into London Luton Airport instead of Heathrow.
The way this works is that an upgrade from a coach ticket will cost a certain number of miles and may also include having a co-pay depending on what class of service your coach ticket was purchased in. If you are thinking of using this method to try and get a upgrade be careful and make sure the coach ticket you are buying is able to be upgraded. In todays market many classes of service are not able to be upgraded using miles.
Dress like a VIP
As superficial as this sounds, one of the easiest ways to increase your chances of getting an upgrade is by dressing the part. Airlines like their first and business class passengers to look the part and if you show up wearing flip flops, shorts and your favorite sports team jersey, the likelihood of getting a “yes” is substantially lower. You may be amazed how well wearing a linen jacket or expensive looking Kashmir scarf or shawl can work.
Volunteer to get Bumped
Do to a variety of reasons including the amount of “no shows”, airlines will often overbook their flights so that the least amount of seats go empty. The problem airlines run into with this is sometimes more people show up then anticipated and therefore have to ask for volunteers to take a later flight. Therefore, when the airlines asks for people who are willing to give up their seat, let them know you will, if you can be upgraded to business or first class on the next flight.
Ask about Upgrades
Alright if your a betting person, I would say this is probably the least likely to work but at the same time its the easiest to do and the least expensive option of all. And really, you have nothing to lose as if they say no, you are in the exact same position you were in before you said anything.
When your at the counter and checking in for your flight, you can simple say something to the effect: “If there are any upgrades to business or first class on this flight, I would appreciate it if you would let me have one.” Of course it helps if you say it with a smile and you just never know.
Airline Credit Cards
I like to earn miles from my credit cards so I can save them up and use them to get a first class or business class upgrade on long haul flight for example, to Europe or Africa.
When looking at your airline of choice you will notice that for the domestic tickets you will need to get to elite status to get the free upgrades and if you fly internationally you will have to use the mileage you have accrued. If you travel frequently, look at what airline credit card will give not only upgrade benefits but also other perks like first check-in and special lounge access that their card may offer.
Also look for an airline that had alot of flights from your home city. The reason for this is so that you won’t have to change planes as often. Lastly, check to see if the cards has any cost involved in getting it and if so, take that into consideration when deciding which is the best card for you
Choose your Plane Wisely
This is bit more extreme but to have the best chance at getting the bump, you can call the airlines you are looking to book your trip with and ask them how many seats they have in business and/or first class. If all else is equal ie price, route etc. You could go with the airline with the higher number as this will simply increase your odds of getting the bump.
Buy a Y up or Q up Fare
What is this you ask? Its almost exclusively for tickets within North America and probably one of the airlines least known secrets.
If you are traveling at the last moment you should ask your airline agent or look on your favorite search engine such as CheapOAir or booking.com about buying your ticket in this class of service since its basically buying a first class ticket at coach prices.
Just keep in mind that this ticket will not be cheap but then again what last minute ticket is but at least you can fly more comfortably to your destination.
Bid on an Upgrade
This is somewhat new but growing option that airlines are offering and a good alternative for those traveling overseas. Policies and pricing vary from airline to airline and route to route, but you sometime are able to get a great deal on what would normally be unaffordable tickets.
Here’s How It Works:
- Go ahead and get your ticket in coach.
- Afterwards you should get an email from the airline informing you of the option to bid for a business class upgrade. However If you don’t check on the airline website about bidding or call them directly and ask them about the process.
- Decide on the price you want to pay for the upgrade and place your bid and give them your credit card information. The card will not be charged unless your bid wins.
- You will not know whether you won or not until about 24 hours before you flight but if you do than let the party begin as you will be flying to your destination at a fraction of the price and with alot more comfort.
This is just a short list of tips that you can use to try and get that elusive upgrade. I’ll add to this every time I hear of something new and I ask that you do the same. Comment below with any things you think can help someone get a upgrade on their next flight.