If you like the idea of flying at the pointy end of the aircraft, but it hurts to part with the thousands of dollars that go with purchasing a business class or first class ticket, the team at Cheapflights.com.au have some tips for you.
If it is at least six months prior to your departure date, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your upgrade chances – like signing up to a frequent flyer programme, as many offer upfront points which may later be used for an upgrade.
Not fussy about your food? If you can get away with it, don’t opt for a vegetarian, vegan or “religious” meal – special options can hurt your upgrade chances, as flights don’t general carry spare special options.
Cheapflights travel expert Kara Segedin says, paradoxically, you can also increase your chances of an upgrade by not necessarily choosing the cheapest fare available.
“Airlines will usually upgrade someone who has paid a full economy fare rather than a discounted fare; it is a bit of a gamble, but it could be a case of ‘spend a little more – to get a whole lot more’. Also, generally speaking, there are more upgrade offers around on weekends, when there are fewer business travellers in the air,” said Ms Segedin.
And if you’re dead-set on angling for an upgrade, she advises against booking tickets as a group – and recommends purchasing tickets separately. “It is much easier to upgrade one person than a whole group.”
Another consideration is the type of aircraft you are flying on, a Boeing 777, for example, has more first and business class seats than a 737.
Keep your ear close to the ground. “Some airlines, like Virgin, give passengers the option to bid for upgrades, while others will email cheap upgrade offers the day or so before departure,” said Ms Segedin.
But if all else fails, on your day of travel, dress to impress, act like a seasoned traveller and all-round-nice-person – and be kind to the air crew and ground staff.
“You might not get an upgrade this time, but you might get a free drink, a chocolate treat or an immigration VIP express pass, which can all help smooth your way.”