How To Get Upgraded To First Class

Leah Bourne

Sex-the-City-Airplane-Suites2Have you noticed that it is increasingly difficult to get a free upgrade to first class without a good reason? Here is why: According to travel experts, upgrades are now electronically doled out by a number of metrics—including to the highest-ranking elite flier, or the person who purchased an upgrade-eligible coach fare, or the person who cashed in on miles. In other words, say goodbye to those days where you name was miraculously called while you are standing at the gate, and you got to take a perch in first class.
That doesn’t mean spur of the moment upgrades never happen though. Here, the tops tips to keep in mind should you decide to gun for a first class seat. And by all means you should, have you sat in coach recently?
1. Search Out Full Flights. Airlines are actually less likely to upgrade people on flights that are relatively empty. That same mentality doesn’t apply when flights are full (airlines like full inventory), so look for flights where it’s likely that the economy seats will be packed, but the business or first-class seats are empty. If coach is over-sold you have a chance of getting upgraded. Be the first to volunteer to give up your seat if the flight is oversold, and you might just have a shot.
2. Volunteer Your Seat. If your flight is really oversold, and being upgraded isn’t even option, give up your seat for the airline offered voucher and also ask whether you can be upgraded on the next flight.
3. If You Have Been Inconvenienced, Take Advantage Of It. If you have been inconvenienced by the airline, don’t hesitate to ask for an upgrade. Again, airlines don’t generally upgrade people for no reason, but if they have caused you a problem, that may be reason enough.
4. Use Your Title. Judges, ministers, and sometimes doctors are more likely to get upgrades, so if you have a title, use it when you make a reservation. It might just help matters.
5. Utilize Your Travel Agent. Certain travel agent have relationships with certain airlines that let them book customers into preferred seats that are not released to everyone (usually toward the front of the plane, in exit rows and the like). They can also see upgrade availability fairly quickly, and many agents can add comments to your reservation that increase your chances of being chosen for an upgrade. This is especially true for travel agents that work on business travel.
6. Get a Deal. When most people search for airline deals online they are searching for economy fares—but there are also deals to be had on business class fares and first class fares. It is worth the few seconds of your time to filter for business- and first-class fares when you search. There are also advertised business-class fare sales fairly regularly, so keep your eyes peeled.
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