Flight Upgrade Best Tips
I received a really nice surprise in my inbox the other day with the offer of a flight upgrade.
I was booked economy class from Melbourne to Auckland and wasn’t really expecting anything special. Then Emirates surprised me. (Which was really nice as I was going away for my birthday!)
4 days before the flight I received the Dream Bigger Emirates offer Flight upgrade. Since I only splashed out a very affordable $200 AUD for the economy seat, I had to weigh up if I wanted to take up the offer to upgrade for just $329 AUD (one way) to the luxurious business class. Total $529 AUD.
Before I decided, I did some research using bookmyowntravel.com/flight-cost and worked out what business class would be if I booked it outright.
A full $889 AUD one way (which is still pretty good for one of the best business class seats available).
So $529 AUD was looking pretty reasonable for a flat bed, gourmet food, an onboard lounge, 2500 channels (I didn’t realise there were that many), priority check in at the airport and my own private cocoon to relax in and soak up the ambience. Alternatively I could take the economy option and feel like I was on a well appointed bus. (It was a no brainer, business class here I come!)
So how do you score a flight upgrade?
Use a Full Service Airline
- Using a full service airline and one as professional and organised as Emirates is one option. Full service airlines also have a range of booking classes from Economy, Premium Economy, through to Business Class and First Class.
- Most low cost airlines only have one class or a very basic business class (which is really like Economy on a full service airline).
- Make sure you have all your details in your booking. Fill in your passport details and any frequent flyer information. Join their airlines reward or loyalty member (most are free to join).
- Fly when it is not really busy, during the week, off peak times, outside school holidays.
- Consider also that you may not be able to gain a flight upgrade from Economy to Business, but you may be able to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy which offers more leg room and some additional services. Ring the airline or ask at the airport (be really nice) or keep an eye on your inbox.
Use your loyalty or frequent flyer points
- Upgrades on flights can also be gained through using frequent flyer points. Most programs are joined to credit cards which allow you to accrue points just by spending money.
- I was shocked to see we had accrued over 30,000 points just for buying our groceries and paying the bills with our American Express card. Then I was quite pleased with myself as I realised there is no yearly fee for the card, no interest (as I paid it off each month) and it was a way to get a few free upgrades each year.
- Flying continually with the same airline will also put you in good standing. You will gain points each time you fly and airlines reward loyalty. So the more you support them, the more chance you have of accessing extra benefits and services, including upgrades.
Advise of special events
Although not guaranteed, if you advise the airline that you have a special event, i.e. a major birthday, or anniversary, or you recently won a prestigious award they may (yes may) do something extra for you. It may only be a glass of champagne or an announcement or they may bump you forward in the plane….wouldn’t that be nice!
Be prepared to help
Airlines like strong, fit looking adults who in an emergency can open or push out the exit door. Airline staff at check-in have to manage loads and need to fill these seats as they are at the front and middle of the aircraft. They will often look for strong, healthy, athletic people to sit in the exit row. So stand up strong at check-in, be really nice (they want to know you are friendly) and you may score a flight upgrade to a seat with more leg room.
Dress to impress, wear at least a nice shirt, pants or skirt. Airlines want to see you care (about yourself and others) and being respectfully dressed can make a difference. I once worked at a very busy regional airport. Many of the fly in/fly out workers, because they flew so much were eligible for upgrades at the airport. Despite this they still turned up in their dirty high vis shirts and pants and work boots and they had a pretty awful smell about them! (Even in economy this is not that nice). Some still had the gumption to ask if they could be upgraded. They were declined and asked politely to shower and change. Only once they were clean would their request be considered. So dress nicely, it might make all the difference to being upgraded to a better seat.
Thanks Emirates, it was a great experience. Well worth it!
Author Yvette Hayes