Every passenger wishes to travel in comfort – wider seats, a little more legroom, free drinks, and the chance to board a little earlier. However, the desire to shift to business or first-class without having to pay a hefty price may seem inconceivable. These upgrades are done by the airline’s computer system choosing the deserving candidates. Long ago this ‘surprise’ flight upgrade wasn’t a very rare thing as it is today since everything related to air travel is charged with some unaffordable fee for many common citizens. Many factors these days have promoted the ‘zero upgrade’ conditions due to the extensive charges, computerized seat assignments, full flights and a competition for upgrades due to the degraded state of the flying coach.
Upgrades on longer domestic flights are feasible for instance the American Airline offers lie-flat seats in the first class on some transcontinental routes and the Hawaiian Airline has lie-flat facility on its flight to Hawaii. Even for international flights besides better food and beverages, the convertible beds in the business class section are actually worth the upgrade.
Some tactics to employ for a flight upgrade:
Be a loyal customer
This can easily be done by being part of a frequent flyer program. You can earn your upgrade by joining a loyalty program meaning you need to stick to one airline and you will be able to bag several useful deals. If an airline is overbooked and the staff needs to transfer a passenger from economy to economy plus class, the priority will obviously be given to the high-mileage and high-dollar customers as a reward.
The upgrade wait checklist that many airlines draft is based on the check in times. It may be like a first-come-first-serve basis. The online check in option is available 24 hours before the departure and if the airline is overcrowded, the staff may choose someone who checked in earlier to bump up from economy to business class. Having good timing is also essential. Requesting the airline staff for an upgrade is best done at the earliest time when there is plenty of spare time before the flight and no one else is competing for a similar cause.
Volunteering to give up your seat
In an oversold flight you can offer your seat as an alternative for a better deal. When the airport staff is in urgent need for volunteers to give up their seats in favour of passengers who are in a greater need, this is the perfect time to ask for concessions and leverages for an upgrade. You can approach the airline and set out your conditions such as some amount of money in place of your seat or an upgrade on the plane for your replacement flight provided that you reach your destination by a set time. As a reward for your flexibility and goodwill the airline will not hesitate to offer you a bump in class.
Don’t hesitate to speak up
If you are stuck with a chair that doesn’t recline or a music system that does not work, you can administer your request for a change of seat on lengthy flights so that the flight attendants will register your request positively. And If you are lucky enough, this relocation may lead to an upgrade when the only seats available are in business or first class. If you have a genuine, practical reason which only affects you and not a lot of people on the same flight, the airline becomes obligated to upgrade you on a subsequent flight. This is because they don’t want to slacken in their customer experience.
Set up email and text alerts
You should turn on your email or message notifications even if your inbox fills up with spam. Your eye may catch some worthy can’t miss deals and sales that the airline companies want their customers to know world wide. This manner of spreading the word is effective as you subscribe to your favorite airline’s newsletter or emails. This way you can get updates on cheap flights potentially in the business class!
What to avoid for a flight upgrade:
Choosing flight times unwisely
You should choose flight times which although may not be very convenient to you but are still somehow manageable. Avoid the business hours especially from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. These are the most packed slots for business travelers like Monday mornings and Thursdays or Fridays. The peak times means the flight is full of business men and women all of whom are top members of the airlines flyer club. Flying midday on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays will land you in the finest spot to be chosen for an upgrade.
A flight which is relatively empty
In an empty plane the chances of receiving an upgrade are rather slim. Even though the seats in business class may also be empty, it is unlikely that the airline would bump you from economy class without any legitimate cause. Airlines are very vigilant when it comes to planning overbooked flights and their inventory departments don’t consider it a loss when people are upgraded in exchange for giving up their seats. If your story is convincing, you can easily achieve an upgrade.
Not travelling solo
One of the factors which influences your chances of winning an upgrade is whether you are travelling alone or in a group along with family or friends. Traveling solo has its upsides for the airline is more likely to accomodate a single person and fit them anywhere on the plane without the havoc of catering to every member of a family. Such as preventing obstacles like having to find seats which are closer to each other if you are traveling with your children and want them to be in your sight at all times.
Don’t order a special meal
It is highly unlikely that a passenger with specific meal requirements be it vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy-free will be offered an upgrade. Clients in economy class are not expected to be stingy about what is already being provided to them. Since airlines have a limited number of meal packs and need to cater to specific dietary requirements when required, these upgrades are not possible to be made with you. So it is improbable that an economy will be served a special meal in business class.