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The How-To Lounge: Getting an Airplane Upgrade

With the added security at airports, flying is more of a chore than ever before. Gone are the days of an easy check in and boarding process, but if you're lucky, an upgrade can make the hectic travel process worth it. To learn some helpful tips on how to get an airplane upgrade,

  • If you are a frequent flyer, become a member of the frequent flyer programs -- oftentimes they offer special treatment to loyal and repeat customers
  • Listen to the ticket agents when they tell you to be at the airport at least an hour before your flight – the more time you have to get through security, the less stressful your flying experience will be
  • Even if you checked in on line, speak to the people behind the counter at your gate right when you get there
  • It is always worth asking for what you want, so inquire if they are offering upgrades in first or business class if they aren't over sold. Sometimes, if the flight is empty and if you get a nice customer service agent, they will bump you up free of charge so you won't have to use miles or credit to get an upgrade
  • We all know that appearances matter, so take your overall wardrobe into consideration
  • If upgrading isn’t an option, ask if they have any exit rows or bulk head seats available. Some extra leg room is sometimes all you need
  • As always, being as polite as possible will make the customer service agents more inclined to help you
  • If your flight is oversold and you are willing to go on a later flight, ask if giving up your seat will secure you an upgrade on a later flight

I hope these tips are helpful the next time you fly. Since there are only a certain amount of seats in first class and only a few exit rows with the coveted extra leg room, the earlier you arrive at the airport, the high your chances are of getting the seat you want. If any of you have other good ideas, please comment below – I think we could all benefit from any secrets you might have!


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Daisie Daisie 9 years
You can always ask nicely to be bumped up for free. But you can also pay for an upgrade the day of the flight. A recent trip cross country would have cost me an extra $1000 if I had booked first class when I bought the tickets a month prior to flying. Arriving early and paying on that day made the first class bump only $150.
1missy 1missy 9 years
I don't understand why people just can't do some of these things all the time
JennaV JennaV 9 years
Good advice! Another good reason to arrive WAYYY early? If the flight is oversold and they cannot get any volunteers to give up their seats (it happens quite a bit)...guess who they bump? The last person who checked in! You will still get compensation, but if you HAVE to be at your destination at THAT time....don't cut it close.
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