how do you get "bumped up" to first class.

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Nov 28th, 1998, 06:59 PM
  #1
zeldasmyth
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how do you get "bumped up" to first class.

I fly small comuter flights a lot and there usually isn''t even a first class in them but when flying long distances, how does one get "bumped up" to first class at the last minute. Who do you ask? What fees does it involve? what airlines are more likely to do this. Does dress matter? How dressy if so. thanks for all the advice.


 
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Nov 29th, 1998, 11:44 AM
  #2
Paul Rabe
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I'm a little confused about your question. Are you asking how to pay for coach class and instead get first class? That's not likely to happen -- if you want to fly in the first class section, basically, you're going to have to PAY for that. I suppose you could always ask at the ticket counter how much it would cost to cancel your coach ticket and then re-issue a first class ticket, but that would almost certainly cost more money than buying a first class ticket in the first place. Other than that, I don't see any way you're going to get a first class ticket unless you PAY for it. It's kind of like at a restaurant--if you pay for a hamburger, that's what they're going to serve you, even if they have steaks available.

Many airline frequent-flyer programs allow you a free upgrade, but that's clearly spelled out in these programs. Check around each airline on how many miles it will cost you to get this upgrade.

About the only way you're going to get first class after paying for coach is if the plane overbooks coach and the only empty seats are in first class. That's happned to me once; I was just lucky. To be first in line for such upgrade "bumps", it would probably help to be part of an airline's frequent flyer programs.

In short, I don't think there is a way to do what I think you're trying to do.
 
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Nov 30th, 1998, 05:58 AM
  #3
ilisa
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It probably depends on the airline, but it is possible to get bumped up to first class. For example, my husband flies Icelandair frequently. On his last trip, he asked, very politely, at check in, if there were any available seats in first class (actually, it's business class on that airline). The agent said she would check after everyone has boarded and that he should wait to board the plane. He did so, and it turned out that there were seats available. Thus, he got bumped up at no extra charge. As for dress, he was just in jeans. It really depends more on your attitude and demeanor. Listen, it never hurts to ask. The worst they can do is say no.
 
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Nov 30th, 1998, 03:48 PM
  #4
stacie
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I was bumped up to first class on my trip home from London. We arrived fairly early for our flight and we were told the plane had had engine problems, so they had to get a different plane, which was smaller. And also our flight was a direct flight. We were flying straight from london to halifax, and they offered us to either go to Toronto or montreal, then home. and if we did this, we could get first class. So, of course we did. Dress has NOTHING to do with it. It is basically luck. But they only needed so many people to switch flights, so i'm happy we went a bit earlier And it didn't cost any more, and we still got "first class" treatment
 
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Nov 30th, 1998, 04:13 PM
  #5
TC
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My husband and I have both been upgraded to first class. The reason both times? We had killer flu. I think the gate agents took pity on our coach seatmates and isolated us in empty first class seats. Maybe its not how you dress, but rather how sick you look. (chuckle)
 
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Nov 30th, 1998, 09:15 PM
  #6
Diane
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I recently got bumped up to first class, but it did cost in convenience. An Air West flight from Baltimore to Seattle via Phoenix was delayed for 3 hrs (then eventually cancelled). As I had to be in Seattle, the good folks at Continental (who it appears regularly pull Air West's fat out of the fire) rescheduled me on an American flight to Seattle via Dallas (coach, but I did get American FF miles). I also got $6 lunch money for BWI airport. And a $100 coupon for future Air West flight.
And, of course, the return Air West flight from Seattle was bumped up to first class.

My husband will meet me in Puerto Rico after a business conference in January He's flying first on my US Airways FF miles. My (company paid) coach ticket home is not officially upgradeable. But maybe if we check in early, and I'm particularly pleasant to the counter staff, I can talk my way to an upgrade so we can sit together on the return flight.
 
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Dec 1st, 1998, 10:38 PM
  #7
Nigel Doran
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Hmm.
I think the above postings show that there is no one sure-fire way of securing an upgrade.
It's happened to me three times, twice when I was flying solo:
1 Manchester U K to Taipei via Amsterdam on K L M. I arrived fairly early at M/cr, and when I got on the 747 at Schipol, I was in business class. I was casual but smart, aged 20, perhaps looking a bit lost and vulnerable!
2 Manchester to New York on British Airways. I was sitting at the bulkhead, behind business class. A couple asked a steward if they could swap with me and the woman sitting next to me, as they had a baby and needed the space. The woman sitting next to me was very savvy, and said she was prepared to swap if we could have an upgrade, as she'd specifically asked for leg room {as I had - I'm over 6'4''} and thought it right that our requests still be honoured, pointing out that the desk staff should have taken more care assigning the couple's seats. It worked!
3 Charlotte, S C to London Heathrow on B A. We arrived 5 hours before flight time, which was what we'd planned to do anyway, taking the car back to the rental firm to avoid extra day charges and then taking the bus back into town for a few hours. We were first in the queue, in casual yet smart clothes, ie. no jeans and no trainers, and asked for legroom with a smile. The clerk went behind the screen, came back, disappeared again, and then came back with the news that we were to be upgraded. It was fab! Great service, great seats, great champagne and on the cheapest ever trans-Atlantic ticket - 240 inc. tax for a non-stop 777 flight on a route with no competition as such.
To conclude: be polite, dress smartly. As for asking - I never have and it's happened 3 times.
 
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Dec 2nd, 1998, 06:26 PM
  #8
Louis
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If you tavel over 50,000 miles on one air line a year paying full coach fare you will find there are many way to get upgrades to business or first class. Otherwise, without upgrade coupons, it is a matter of luck and chance. If you fly enough and if you are a nice person, it will happen. You will be surpised what people can do at the airport and gate. Don't expect anybody to give you a do-it-yourself-kit, particularly on the web, as the angles are secrets that will kill the goose that lays the golden egg if given out.
 
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Dec 3rd, 1998, 06:52 PM
  #9
Owen O'Neill
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I have traveled with my boss (who flies close to 100,000 miles annually). His American Air FF status (I believe they call it "Gold" or "President's Club") entitles him to a separate private check-in counter at certain airports, as well as a private waiting area/lounge. Most major airlines offer some such arrangement. He shows his card to the check-in agent and asks politely if there are any empty seats in first class. They always upgrade him at no charge ONLY IF there are some empty seats. I do not have the impression that this is done routinely for those of us who fly infrequently but this is an option for the very frequent flyer.
 
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Dec 15th, 1998, 06:05 AM
  #10
Woodhouse
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This rarely occurs, in my experience. But earlier this year it happened to my husband and me. Sorry, I cannot recall the airline or the route. However, in this case, coach was oversold. As we lined up to board, a gate attendant pulled my hubby out of line at the last minute, and of course, I went along. He was dressed very smartly, as he was going directly to the office from the airport. On the other hand, I was going home, and wore jeans and a sweater! The attendant looked at me in mild surprise, then started tapping data into her terminal. Being rather blunt, I asked what was going on. She said "I am upgrading you to first class because we need your coach seats." When I said "why us?" she nodded at my husband and said "When we do this, we like to chose people who are well dressed." Needless to say, I was shocked. We were not FFs for that airline, either. I don't think the airlines bother to ask or check anymore. In fact, they do so little these days for their FFs, it is almost laughable.
 
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Jan 13th, 1999, 05:30 PM
  #11
Squidgie
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I once heard a conversation on a radio station in Chicago on this topic. Someone suggested bribes, along the lines of flowers for the desk agent. A woman called in who claimed to be a desk agent, and she said she would definitely bump up someone with flowers!
 
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Feb 1st, 1999, 07:47 PM
  #12
Diane
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Adding a PS to my earlier post -- I did get moved up to first class for the San Juan to Charlotte leg of the trip home!
The people at the gate first asked for a coupon (which I didn't have because the frequent flyer folks told me it wouldn't be honored for what they considered an international flight). But ten minutes later, an attendant came and found us and bumped me into 1st. I was simply nice and polite ("Gee, wasn't it nice of me to get my husband a 1st class ticket with MY miles?". If you don't ask, you'll never know. The worst thing that can happen is they'll say no.
 
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Feb 11th, 1999, 07:52 PM
  #13
stephanie
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We were bumped up to business class when we flew to Germany just for asking for window seats! And my husband and I were dressed in shorts - we looked like we were ready to go backpacking! I didn't know that the row 11 that we were assigned was in business class until we boarded - I said to my husb., "are you sure we're..." and before I could finish he said, "shh! Just act like you're supposed to be here!" On our way home, we thought we would try it again. This time at the airport in Germany we asked for any upgrades that were available. We were again seated in business class. I don't think those sections on the big overseas planes are ever booked - too expensive. Try it!
 
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Feb 14th, 1999, 01:41 PM
  #14
dawdle
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It has only ever happened to me three times. The first time I got a friend of mine in the industry to put a request in. (Which is of no help or consequence to anyone on this forum, I know). But, the second time, I got my husband to go and ask at the Business Class desk, (as it was a young woman manning (sorry for the pun) the desk at the time). Finally, there was a change of aircraft at the last minute on our flight, and the configuration of the aircraft meant that my husband and I were not going to sit anywhere near each other, and the other passengers would not move or cooperate in any way. Basically, certainly with British Airways, they will NOT upgrade from economy to Club if you are wearing jeans, or not looking casually smart. I don't know about other airlines. I find that it certainly pays to ask at every possible opportunity. (ie at check-in, at the gate, and on boarding the aircraft.)
 
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May 18th, 1999, 06:40 PM
  #15
Kay Hull
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I travel to Europe with my 15 year old daughter and we've always been upgraded to business class on United. We always are dressed in nice jeans etc. We always smile a lot. I think they can't resist her smile. She always does a little "yea!" when they upgrade us. They love her.
 
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May 20th, 1999, 11:20 AM
  #16
Kat
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Upgraded without trading in FF miles or certificates? By United? On international routes?
 
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May 25th, 1999, 10:03 AM
  #17
jayne
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We've been bumped up to business class by pure chance, but my question is if you try to get some kind of official upgrade--using ff miles or certificates or even asking at the gate--don't you have to have a full coach fare ticket as opposed to excursion fare or whatever they're calling discounted tickets these days?
 
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May 26th, 1999, 02:05 PM
  #18
Kavey
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Hi All

In my experince there are a few occasions when economy flyers are upgraded. Recently our prebooked requests for extra legroom seats were messed up by British Airways. I complained though very politely and expressed my disappointment and left it at that. When we went to board we were pulled aside and upgraded to Club.

If the airline messes you around you may be able to wangle an upgrade, but alwyas be polite.

Other time also on BA several years ago was when they had over booked economy.
Dont know why they chose as as the three of us had just soent 6 weeks wondernig around India and boy did we look it...

I doubt when they have those last minute decisions about needing to upgrade for such over booking reasons that they care or have time to give the upgrade to those who paid full or whatever. They just choose on sight, perhaps clothes, perhaps smiles, who knows.
 
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May 27th, 1999, 01:15 PM
  #19
Jordie
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These stories suggest it's easy, but believe me, it's rare to get bumped up, particularly on American Airlines, unless you are already "privileged" with gold or platinum FF status. Sure it never hurts to ask, but more and more are asking, and many gate agents get downright crusty, no matter how nice you are. Forget it if you are a woman traveling alone, without premier status.
 
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Jun 26th, 1999, 01:30 AM
  #20
Nellie
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bumped up to First or business class??? Pure luck most of the time. I work for an airline. On flights with irregular operations bumping up is normal. Top tier FF are usually given first priority specially if they are nice. Ordinary citizens would depend on the gate controller if they are in a good mood, are you neatly dressed? The screamers usually get the seat next to the toilet or middle seats. Be nice to the check in agent too. They are friends with the gate agents.
 
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