11th Jul 2017

How to get travel upgrades

How to get travel upgrades
SJ Fallick

Upgrades are a traveller’s dream but getting one doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may think. Here are a few things to remember to improve your chances.

Good things come to those who ask. It’s very simple – if you don’t ask you don’t get. While no airline, hotel or other provider is under any obligation to offer, if you ask, the worst that will happen is they will say no. Best case scenario, you get what you’ve asked for or possibly another perk. When I moved to London I asked for an upgrade to Business Class. They weren’t able to as they were overbooked, but they waived my excess luggage fee.

Remember, it’s all about leverage. What will the provider get in return for upgrading you? If you work in the industry, have a blog or online following, or something else that may help your case, it’s definitely worth mentioning. Similarly, if you have a special circumstance, this is another great approach. On my most recent flight back to London, I again asked for an upgrade and I ended up with consecutive exit row seats. I explained I am scared of flying and didn’t wish to sit down the back of the plane where the turbulence is stronger.

Ask in advance. Rather than waiting until the last minute, make a note of your request at the time of booking. You will be given priority if anything arises.

Be nice. You’d be surprised how many people aren’t. Nobody wants to help someone who is rude, aggressive, entitled or angry. While you may feel it’s somewhat cheeky to ask for an upgrade, if you do it nicely there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Be gracious in defeat. If the answer is no, don’t be a sore loser. It’s likely the person you’re dealing with has their hands tied. You’ll be no worse off than when you started and, who knows, they may find a way to reward you for your understanding.

Have you had success in getting an upgrade? How did you go about it?

Related articles:
Make economy feel like first class
Score a free hotel upgrade
Qantas upgrades by invitation


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Tom Tank
12th Jul 2017
As the Good Book says "Seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given unto thee."
Asking very nicely with a gentle smile can sometimes work wonders. If the answer is in the negative then accept it graciously. As my dear old mother used to say - good manners cost nothing but can bring unexpected rewards. I can never understand why people are rude to others but it happens all too often.
12th Jul 2017
I've asked a few times, but only when it looks very likely the plane will not be full. The answer has always been no. Don't bother asking when there are long check-in queues and the staff are flat chat. I think it is almost certain that it won't work with low cost carriers either. I tried a couple of times with Air Asia X when their planes used to fly half empty, specially on the night flight home to Melbourne from KL. No joy there.
almost midnight
12th Jul 2017
Yes, ask nicely! I have had upgrades a couple of times with Air Asia - not to business class but at least they moved me to 'the quiet zone" - no children allowed - a real bonus on a night flight!
12th Jul 2017
I had already booked a seat in the Quiet Zone, as I always do. I was sort of hoping for an upgrade to Premium to get the bed seat :-)
12th Jul 2017
Strange, no one has mentioned frequent flyers etc. Should you hold any status with an airline as a frequent flyer, the higher up the ladder you are the better your chance of an upgrade.
25th Nov 2017
Recently I flew with Virgin on a flight Cairns to Melbourne and was greatly impressed with the service that I received from the flight attendants.
Emma you are a lovely girl and I would be very proud of you if you were my daughter.
Virgin is very lucky to have you on their staff you and the rest of the crew 1st class Thankyou all I will be back again signed Alan Porteous.

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