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Business Class Upgrade Secrets Tips and Strategies

Business Class

First class and business class air travel is a luxury usually reserved for the rich, but there are ways to experience all the perks without breaking the bank.
Airlines each have different upgrade processes — and even with rules in place, whether you actually receive the upgrade is often left to other variables.

For many travellers, paying up to $5000 for a business class ticket in order to fly in greater comfort simply isn’t an option. However, what very few people realise is that most airlines will upgrade passengers from economy class for free – if they meet certain guidelines.
In this article, we will pass on some of the things that the check in staff look for and require so that you can take advantage of the loopholes and get your upgrade for free.
These 7 top tips come direct from the check in staff of some of the best-known airlines, and are considered by many regular travellers to be the holy grail of getting something for nothing.

Warning: Before we go into what you should do, let’s talk about what not to do. There are tons of sites online that will sell you unused miles, which they claim you can redeem for upgrades, free airline tickets, and other perks. They buy these points from businesses or frequent travelers who rack up more points than they can use. Sounds legit, right?
The problem with this practice, is that nearly all commercial carriers forbid the buying and selling of unused miles and according to most terms of carriage, the airline can void itineraries booked through a mileage broker without notice or compensation. Bottom line: stay away from mileage brokers. You might get away with it, but it’s not worth the gamble.

Tip Number 1:

Look the part. Make sure that you are dressed smartly when you travel. There is almost no chance of getting a free upgrade if you are wearing shorts and a scruffy t-shirt, so at the very least, check in wearing a shirt and pants. there is no need to go overboard and wear a suit – unless you really want to. The key is to look smart, but not like you’re trying too hard.

Tip Number 2:

Turn up early. The check-in staff know exactly how many passengers are travelling on a particular flight well in advance, so if there are seats to spare in business class, they will know straight away.
Or:  Check in late.  Closer to the end of check-in, airlines might be faced with overbooking, which could make them more inclined to offer flight upgrades. One way to check if your flight might be overbooked is to check your flight status online 24 hours before departure.

Tip Number 3:

Be Polite. Put yourself in the place of the check in staff. Would you reward a person who gives you attitude and starts shouting the odds, or someone who is pleasant and gives them the time of day. There may be 250 people in the queue behind you, so make them remember you. Flirt, smile, use their name, be nice, and you may well get a pleasant surprise.

Tip Number 4:

Be a Frequent Flyer. If you join an airline’s frequent flier programme, you are far more likely to be at the front of the queue for an upgrade, as the airline will want to reward you for your loyalty. Even if you do not fly regularly, go to the airline’s website and join their programme online. It will only take a minute or two, and is well worth the time.
Loyal customers – who are members of and have status with an airline’s frequent flyer program – will normally be given priority when an airline needs to upgrade a passenger (for example, because of overbooking in Economy Class).

Tip Number 5:

Purchase Upgrades! There are many ways to buy upgrades cheaply. Keep in mind that there are specific rules for who can use them and how they are used. You need to read the fine print carefully. But in most cases, not only is it easy to purchase upgrades, its easy to put them to use. Upgrades for most major carriers can be purchased on Ebay, in travel forums, and some can be found for sale in classified ads. In some cases you can purchase an upgrade for as little as eight dollars, but as usual, these upgrades can only be applied to your ticket at the check in counter once you arrive at the airport. Other more expensive upgrade will allow you to confirm your upgrade over the phone before you arrive at the airport.

Tip Number 6:

Ask. They say that if you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it, so make sure you do – but do it at the right time. If the check in staff look stressed, and no amount of charm has elicited a smile, don’t bother to ask them, wait until you get to the gate. If the counter staff have responded well, when they ask you if you have any specific seat request, be cheeky and say “First Class” to them. It might just work.

Tip Number 7:

Bid for an Upgrade – Some airlines will allow you to name your price, like at an auction, and bid for a business or first-class upgrade. In order to do this, you must have a confirmed reservation and be ready to pay if your bid is accepted. This is not a guaranteed upgrade, the way paying for one with cash or points is, but it’s a way to gamble on getting that upgrade at a discount.

Tip Number 8:

Keep an eye out for Business Class discount deals and sales.  Most of us will completely ignore any Business Class fare as it seems out of reach anyway. However, that’s a wrong assumption. Business tends to slow down during the school holidays and airlines cannot fill their Business Class seats, hence selling them at impressively discounted prices, that – in some cases – match the price of the tickets for the seats in the crammed back of the plane.

Tip Number 9:

Sign up for airlines’ newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters of airlines you frequently fly with to be notified of special promotions regarding flight upgrades. You can then receive first-hand news when flight upgrades become available, and plan your trip accordingly.


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