Who would say no to travelling Business or First Class, especially if you’re just paying the price of an Economy ticket? Yes, you can get a an upgrade, but don’t throw tantrums or try chatting up check-in staff to score one. While get bumped up a class is rare, it isn’t impossible. We’re here to help lift your flight game and ensure you get to your chosen destination in style with these tips on how to bag an upgrade on your next trip. See you in first class!
Text: Natalya Molok / The Singapore Women’s Weekly / April 2017
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Don’t expect the staff at the check-in desk to fall over themselves at the sight of you in a full-on ball gown complete with a 10-foot veil but you’ll limit your chances of an upgrade if you turn up in socks and Adidas slides. Dressy shoes are always a smarter sartorial choice for the lounge, too.
Turn up early
Upgrades mostly happen at one of two times: before barely any guests are checked in; and when everyone’s checked in and the flight is almost at capacity. Play it safe and go early, politely suggesting you’d be happy to be moved if the flight is looking full, and cross your fingers.
Use your points
If all else fails, handing over your frequent flyer points can help guarantee the seat you want, without the hustle. Find a membership rewards card that gives you a choice of airline partners. Then, make the most of your new plastic whilst overseas too – every point you earn can be put towards your next trip.
Be loyal to the airline
Fly with them (or one of their affiliate airlines) where possible, and invest in their frequent flyer program. Without being rude, don’t be afraid to drop mention of a time they’ve inconvenienced you in the past, or play the pity card if you’ve just had a particularly hellish leg. When in doubt, tales of crying babies work wonders.
Check your emails
Often if a flight has been overbooked (it’s more common than you’d think), the airline will send out an email to see if anyone would like to upgrade for a relatively small fee. While not exactly a free ride, it’ll be far cheaper than if you paid for the full fare to begin with.
Travel at quiet times
Lynn Unick, a growth manager at Skyscanner, reckons you’ve got a better chance of upgrading to business class by booking a flight on bank holidays and at other times of the year when business users are less likely to fly, as the seats tend not to be taken up.
Turn up late (and do not reserve your seat ahead of time)
Be late without reserving your seat: if you’re lucky and if the flight is overbooked, you might just be able to bag a premium class ticket. However, Joe Sarre, Senior Product Manager in APAC says it “works well at busy times, but it’s a dangerous game! If you’re too late you might miss the check-in time, or they might have already sorted their overbooking problems by giving upgrades to the passengers ahead.”
Be nice and just ask
Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Yes, that’s right, bagging an upgrade could be as simple as a show of clean teeth and a few well-placed words complimenting the check-in staff on their nail extensions. This tactic is particularly good for girls travelling alone but not in peak periods.