There are lots of things that people dream of but for travellers the offer of a surprise upgrade, especially on long haul flights, is like hitting the jackpot. Not only is it the benefit of the extra leg space, there’s also the additional perks to enjoy, like champagne dining, quieter surrounds and fancy amenity kits.
Upgrades to the higher classes, be it premium economy, business or first class, are less common than they were years ago due to greater efficiencies by airlines. However there are still smart ways to try to sneak yourself to the front of the plane.
While dressing well and asking politely are no longer the clinchers they used to be, the Flexicover team offer five tips to get you bumped to the better seats.
Become a frequent flier
By far, the best recipe for upgrade success is to be a member of the frequent flier programme; airlines themselves are quick to explain that regular patrons are the first to be rewarded with this perk. If you're not a member already, join at the time of booking your flight so the membership is noted well in advance. Even if it's your first and only time flying with the airline, the very fact that you're a member will put you in better stead than others. By the same token, the more miles you've flown, and the more impressive your frequent flier balance sheet is, the higher on the upgrade list you'll find yourself.
Check in early or late
The time you check in may have a small but significant influence on whether there's an opening for an upgrade. If you're one of the first to check in, it could be that the airline staff know the allocation and are happy to make the necessary changes. A riskier move is leaving your check in to the last minute. If the flight is overbooked and there are no economy seats left, in their haste, they may allocate an upgrade out of their usual priority order. You may also get the opportunity to take the next flight in return for an upgraded seat - and often a free return flight on top of that. But checking in late may mean that only the least desirable seats are left, so it’s probably worth weighing up the pros and cons before going with this option.
Use inconveniences to your advantage
Airlines upgrade out of necessity or for loyalty, but also apology. If the flight is cancelled or delayed, be a forceful but polite complainer to try and swing an upgrade. A delayed flight may mean that you'll have to go straight from the airport to a meeting, tour or restaurant booking. If it interferes with your plans, they may be more inclined to ensure your flight is as comfortable as possible, even if that means a pricier cabin. Equally, if your entertainment system isn't working or if you're seated next to a screaming baby, hostesses may be sympathetic to your request to move seats - and if there are none left in economy, an upper class seat might just be the only option, mores the pity.
Choose your flight times carefully
Knowing that frequent fliers are the first ones to be upgraded, the prime scenario is a full economy flight with plenty of seats in business. So opting for a time when business travellers are least likely to fly will help your chances. For long haul flights, weekends are perfect for this. For shorter journeys, flights during the working day should also be considered.
Most often it's only one or two lucky people who will be upgraded on a flight. And even if there are extra seats, adults are preferred over children, so everything is weighed in favour of the solo traveller. That means you'll stand the best chance of an upgrade if your booking is just for yourself. If you're going with a pal who's equally intent on positioning themselves favourably for an upgrade, book separately to stand the best chance.
Make sure that you take out a Flexicover travel insurance policy before flying anywhere. For great rates on travel insurance please visit the Flexicover Website, travel with peace of mind!