what is an airline upgrade

Oct 31st, 2011, 09:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 22
what is an airline upgrade

although I have done a substantial amount of air-travel, it has mostly been for pleasure. ..thus the inexperience in the matter of upgrades to flights. I read of people obtaining upgrades from coach/economy to business or first class. How does one even go about asking for that? Is there a cost? what can be done to increase one's "luck" factor?
I will be flying from YVR to southeast Asia, perhaps Bangkok in January 2012...any tips?
Thanks for all comments and observations
Ellgie is offline  
Oct 31st, 2011, 10:30 PM
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Hm, well, it used to be said that you were more likely to get an upgrade if well-dressed (men with a jacket and no jeans, for instance). (Uh, obviously wearing chinos or something, I don't mean no pants altogether!) I don't know if the well-dressed thing holds true any more. And airlines also favour their frequent fliers. I had an upgrade once on Lufthansa to business class, when I was doing flights with them more regularly than I do now. Although I don't think my dress was particularly fantastic if I remember correctly. My perception at the time was perhaps I had arrived a little later (although still on time) and all the economy seats had perhaps already been allocated. And on another occasion, flying an airline that is now defunct, my husband and I were seated at the very front of the plane in the upstairs section, which we thought very special, but not sure if it was an actual upgrade, although they served us glasses of port and real ice-cream when this was a novelty. We were both frequent fliers and had booked a package holiday with the airline and their preferred hotels, so I guess that would tend to suggest airlines reward their loyal customers. But I really have no 'insider' knowledge, and of all the flights I've taken in my life only had that one real upgrade experience. I am sure someone here has a better informed opinion than I do!

lavandula is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 03:08 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Many types of "upgrades"

Best for me to join your carrier's FF miles club

sign up for their CC I always do this usually tonnes

of FF miles you can use to upgrade to Prem Econo Biz First

So best to check with your carrier for specifics.

If they are not sold out u can use FF miles or buy upgrades

on many carriers day of your flight have done it a bunch.

So my advice would be to study your carriers options fot

this... Frquent Flyer Members(usually free) always get

priority flyertalk.com for more good info.
qwovadis is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 07:56 AM
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How do you go about asking? You call them and ask how much it will cost for an upgrade. They will tell you how much it costs in money. They might give you options where you can request an upgrade to be paid with FF miles or miles + cash.

Sometimes a flight will be overbooked and the airline will ask for "volunteers" to travel on a later flight, probably on the next day's flight for that transpac flight. They will offer some compensation for giving up your seat that day and they will confirm a seat for you on the next day's flight. The compensation offer might be cash, an upgraded seat, or cash + upgrade.

You can always volunteer and then decline the offer. When you get to the gate you can ask the agent if they need volunteers - you are volunteering to be bumped off of the flight.

Your chances are slim to none, unless you pay.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Nov 1st, 2011, 08:13 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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Upgrades for "dressing nice" or "being on our honeymoon" don't happen. (I always moan when I see travel articles about "How to score an airline upgrade" that offer such suggestions.) If you ask for an upgrade at the counter, you'll likely be met with the response: "How would you like to pay for that?" (Cash or miles.) Airlines have very specific procedures for determining who gets upgraded and in what order. Most will let their first/biz seats go out empty rather than devalue the product by giving them away.

There are occasional instances of what's called an operational upgrade. Coach is oversold and the airline will move people up to empty seats in biz/first to make more room. Frequent-flyers with elite status will always get priority there.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 08:14 AM
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We used https://www.optiontown.com this past spring. We got upgrades on SAS to Copenhagen. It isn't a guarantee but if you do get the upgrades, they are really well priced. Air Indian is one of the airlines optiontown works with; the way it works - you book your flight in economy. Then you go to their website, join [a nominal fee] and then pay for upgrade. IF you get the upgrade, they notify you [usually pretty close to departure time] and you are set. If you don't get upgrade, they refund the money to you. You can do this for both legs of your flight. They may have upgrade to both business and/or economy extra if that is available.

We paid for business upgrade but also indicated that if we couldn't get business, we would do EE. If we had only been able to get EE, they would have refunded the difference. If you choose to try for both classes, you pay the higher amount.

If you have any questions, ask away. There are a couple of airlines that fly to Asia that are available on optiontown.
DebitNM is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 10:55 AM
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I have been upgraded at no charge by BA a number of times over the years without asking. Once I was flying World Traveller (coach) and had requested a window seat when checking in. None was available but I was told one might become available before boarding. As I boarded I was given a new seat assignment and when I inquired if it was a window seat, the agent simply smiled and replied he thought I would like the seat. Imagine my surprise to find it was seat 1A, the first row of First class!

Another time I missed my flight back to Seattle due to late arrival of my BA connecting flight and ended up spending the night at Heathrow. The next day I was re-ticketed stand-by for the afternoon flight, but in Traveller (coach) rather than Club (business), which is what my original ticket was for. When I questioned the agent in the lounge, she moved me up into First.

Several times over the years I have received upgrades from Traveller to Club when a flight connecting with an earlier Seattle-bound flight was delayed and the late-arriving passengers were shoe-horned onto my flight, causing a ripple effect of sorts, multiple passengers upgraded, rippling through the cabins.

I have been a silver-tier member of BA's FF club for almost 20 years so that may explain some of my 'luck.'

For the past 10 years or so I use have used miles to upgrade whenever I can. 25,000 miles plus the price of a ticket in Traveller Plus assures me a seat in Club.
julia1 is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 01:51 PM
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Thank you all for the enlightening information, your answers have made me very realistic about the possibility of a free upgrade....and of course, that is fair. The Airlines should indeed be rewarding their most loyal customers.

I will look a the other options that the a/l's offer. \
thanks again.
Ellgie is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2011, 11:09 AM
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For the past 10 years or so I use have used miles to upgrade whenever I can. 25,000 miles plus the price of a ticket in Traveller Plus assures me a seat in Club.

Is that 25,000 miles plus the price of a full-fare ticket?
sf7307 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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Its usually 25,000 miles plus the price of an "upgradable" ticket -- which is almost as expensive as a full Y coach ticket. Many times I've found FC fares that are less expensive than the upgradable coach ticket + miles. Always thought that was a real joke on the part of the airline. Give us just money or give us more money + your miles. Don't assume the money and miles option is always the best.
TC is offline  
Nov 11th, 2011, 09:30 AM
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For the past 10 years or so I use have used miles to upgrade whenever I can. 25,000 miles plus the price of a ticket in Traveller Plus assures me a seat in Club.

Is that 25,000 miles plus the price of a full-fare ticket?

Different airlines have (very) different upgrade options. In some (e.g. Delta) you have to buy a "qualifying" coach ticket in order to upgrade using miles. The fare classes of those tickets are always higher than the cheapest, but not at all "full Y" fares (which are astronomical.) In the case of British Airways (the example above) you can upgrade from any premium economy fare (even the discounted "T" fares) to business/club; however to upgrade from ordinary coach to premium coach, only higher-priced "underlying" fares are eligible.

Other airlines (e.g. American) allow upgrades from any coach fare to business (or first on domestic two-cabin services) but only on payment of a co-pay charge, which could be anywhere from $75 each way to $350 each way, depending on whether it's domestic or overseas. When you add the "value" of the miles (say, in the case of AA, 25,000 - each way - to upgrade from coach to business on a flight to Europe or Asia) then often it's "cheaper" just to buy a business class fare outright, or even to buy whatever additional miles you need for an outright redemption ticket.

It's all very airline-specific, and all in the numbers.
Gardyloo is online now  
Nov 11th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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sf7307: 'For the past 10 years or so I use have used miles to upgrade whenever I can. 25,000 miles plus the price of a ticket in Traveller Plus assures me a seat in Club.

Is that 25,000 miles plus the price of a full-fare ticket?'

Not full fare. The price of an upgradeable ticket. Just last week I paid USD 586.00 + Taxes/Fees + 25,000 miles for round-trip Club World (flat-bed business) Seattle-Heathrow-Venice in April 2012. BA was having a fare sale and upgradeable fares were on sale too. Not bad, I'd say. Since I normally don't travel during peak times and try to get in on fare sales whenever I can, I usually pay in this same range for upgrades to Club.

TC: 'Always thought that was a real joke on the part of the airline. Give us just money or give us more money + your miles.'

Actually, I've never found 'FC fares that are less expensive than the upgradable coach ticket + miles' (TC again), and seriously doubt I ever would with BA. Even with this fare sale the cheapest Club tickets for my dates are $4400+ and First tickets are $13,000+.
julia1 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2011, 09:46 AM
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Julia, I find this almost every year on the flights to Mexico for our winter vacation on Delta. As Gardyloo says, each airline has a different way of calculating what it will cost to upgrade, but in response to the OP question, there just aren't many/any "smiling upgrades" anymore.
TC is offline  
Nov 14th, 2011, 01:33 AM
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When i lived in Melbourne I had to travel to Sydney to connect with many major airlines that departed directly out of Sydney. I usually had to travel on the local carrier, Qantas and was twice upgraded from Business to First class on international 747's. I figure this was to give me a "sniff" of how great Qantas first class was so I would transfer my business to them. It wasn't so fabulous.

I do object a little to free upgrades. If you want to travel a certain way pay for it like the majority of people in those seats do. I do not want the cabin filled up just because there are spare seats.

I think the days of upgrades changed after 9/11.
MissGreen is offline  

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