Everyone wants to fly first class or vault to the penthouse suite. Unfortunately, for many of us, luxury doesn’t come cheap. But, don’t give up on that dream just yet. An upgrade is not always out of reach if you know some basic tips and tricks.
Here are some tried-and-tested approaches to help you score the upgrade you’ve been dreaming about:
- Join an airline’s loyalty program.
While it’s hard for many leisure travelers to accrue enough miles for a business-class ticket, it doesn’t hurt to become a member of an airline frequent-flyer club. Even if you don’t travel often, you’ll be the first to snag great deals and receive upgrade opportunities. Sometimes, if agents are looking to move someone on the day of departure, they would usually reach out to passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline first.
- Dress the part
If you want to get upgraded to business class, you have to ditch the track pants and sweats for a more business-savvy attire. Sometimes airline agents just randomly pick out whom to upgrade from the crowd, and looking the part can earn you a one-way ticket to an upgrade!
- Check in early.
As most airlines may only have one or two upgrade seats available, maximize your chances of bagging them by checking in hours ahead of your scheduled departure. Even if you don’t get the upgrade, at least you know you won’t be missing your flight due to traffic or delays!
- Give up your spot
Most airlines usually tend to overbook their flights during holiday season. As such, there would be instances when gate agents will be asking for people who are willing to give up their seat for a first-class upgrade on the next flight. Sure, you will experience a delay, but it might be worth it if you don’t really have any pressing matters to attend to at your final destination.
- Inquire about upgrade discounts upon check-in
As an empty seat in first class is lost revenue to an airline, they may sell deeply-discounted upgrades up until departure. It may be a lot less expensive than you expected, so it’s worth the shot to ask.
- Be nice to the airline staff
Kindness really pays, so always be nice and polite to the airline agents. When you check in, smile and tell the staff politely that you’d like to be upgraded. They’re so used to people complaining all the time that it makes it easy for you to stand out if you’re friendly and genuinely nice.
If these do not work, you can try bidding for updates or buying your way to more legroom in the plane. While it will cost a few extra dollars, it’ll be much cheaper than purchasing a first- or business-class ticket.
- Book in up-and-coming hotels
As part of their marketing strategy, new or boutique hotels are more likely to give impressive deals and upgrades to their guests. They are willing to profit less in order to build up their dedicate fan and get some repeat business in the future.
- Don’t purchase an entry-level room
It’s a long shot to ask for a penthouse suite upgrade when you booked the cheapest room of all. You’re more likely to get upgraded to a bigger suite if you purchase a mid-range room or suite in advance. All upgrades are of course based on availability and will be awarded depending on how busy the hotel is.
- Make your reservation over the phone
While most of us are so used to booking tickets and accommodations over third-party websites, it is much more advantageous for you if you call the hotel directly over the phone. Try asking if they can offer you a better price for the room. You’d be surprised at how easily they can give you a discount!
- Check in at a later time
Arriving late in the day can increase your chances of a better room in the hotel. Most often than not, there will be cancellations throughout the day that can pave the way for a suite upgrade.
- Join loyalty programs
As it is the hotel’s best interest to keep their most frequent guests happy, becoming a member allows you to get free upgrades or generous perks. During off-peak seasons, they may even offer very good discounts for suites exclusively for members.
- Mention that you’re celebrating a special occasion
Talking up celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries and engagements really does help people get upgrades. Instead of mentioning it only upon check-in, the best way to go about it is by letting them know in advance. Most hotel staff usually review all their arrivals at least a day before the guests arrive, and they would always put in high priority all the special guests they know about in advance.
- Be polite
While it always helps to be polite in dealing with everyone you encounter, manners go even a longer way in the hospitality industry. That’s because they are so used to dealing with angry or indifferent customers who always have a thing to complain or two. Instead, be as pleasant as you can as soon as you enter the hotel premises. You would be surprised how much greeting a receptionist with a smile and introduction can make a world of difference. Sometimes you wouldn’t even have to ask for an upgrade, they would just give it to you right away.
If there’s only one thing you should learn about how to get upgraded to first-class or the suite you want, it’s that it never hurts to ask. Sometimes you just really need to tell the staff that you’d appreciate the extra legroom or a room with a view. Just don’t forget to do it nicely and you’ll be well on your way to getting what you want! You’ll be surprised sometimes all it really takes is a smile and a good attitude. Good luck!