How to get upgraded?

Jul 24th, 2004, 10:34 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 28
How to get upgraded?

I am a novice traveler and want to ask the professional travelers out there about some of there tips and tricks on how to get upgraded? For example, how to get upgraded from coach to first class? And, when checking into a hotel, how do you get a room upgrade? As a novice, I hear that the pros get upgrades all of the time. Thanks to all who are willing to share their secrets! Victor
vvv352 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 11:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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If you're talking about domestic flying, then your only chance of upgrade is to have "elite" status with an airline, by flying at least 25,000 miles with qualified fares with them in a calendar year. Very little chance of international upgrade. The other way is to choose very full flights to book, which the airline is likely to overbook, and then go to the airport early and put your name down in the front for being bumped onto another flight. They MAY give you a first class seat on the other flight, but not necessarily.

For hotels, it's a lot easier. Sign up for the hotel's "frequent stay" program and you may already get better rooms (or at least higher floors). Then ask at check-in.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 11:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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BTW, some airlines automatically give you domestic first class upgrade if you buy a full-fare economy seat. But of coures, that full-fare Y ticket probably cost as much, if not more, than a domestic first class seat already.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
I have two upgrade stories - one successful, the other not - neither one of which is helpful as a guide for the future :

Successful: I had bought tickets at the last minute for me and my wife to go to Florida and pick up my grandfather (who had unfortunately reached the age where he couldn't safely live on his own). On the way back, we were given the last three seats after everyone checked in - two in first class, one in coach. My wife sat in coach, while grandpa and I enjoyed first class... I still hear about it from her to this day. (Very Seinfeld like - I can understand about not being able to go back).

Unsucessful: On the way to Australia for our honeymoon, I figured I'd ask about the mythical "honeymoon" upgrade. In LA, as we switched to our Sydney flight, I waited on line at the gate and politely said, I don't know if there is anything you can do, but I heard that sometimes if there is space you can upgrade honeymooners, etc., just thought I would ask - I really did ask very politely and unassuming. The response by the Quatas attendant (and this is honestly a quote, or nearly so).... "You think you're special? You're not special. Everyone is on their honeymoon." It was SOOO rude, mean, and unnecessary, that after the shock wore off, we thought it was just hilarious.

Anwyay, I think that free upgrades on flights are becoming fairly impossible to get, outside of pure luck, if you're not an high-level frequent flyer.
vacationdreamer is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Most flights are so full that upgrades are a fantasy except for the highest level frequent flyers. Your best bet is a flight that is practically empty - if you can find such a thing - probably to a really unpopular destination at a bad time (say 6am) and being really nice to the gate staff.

Hotel upgrades are a lot easier to get. If a hotel is fairly empty (again you need to plan here - not NY at Christmas) they will generally give an upgrade to anyone charming who asks nicely at check-in - since it doesn;t cost them anything. For a busy hotel you will need to be a member of their program, have good luck, and check in late - when they're sure they won;t sell the better room or suite.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 5,134
Only free upgrade we ever got was due to an "internal bump." Economy was overbooked, and we we moved up to business class, which had seats. The gate agent did it for us because both my wife and I were coming straight from work and the agent said we "looked" business class.
AJPeabody is online now  
Jul 25th, 2004, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 231
During my recent stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, I was told I was upgraded when checking in. The hotel was full and I'm not a member of the Hilton Honor's program either. My only guess on why an upgrade was on my reservation was due to my telling the Hilton how excited I was about returning to Hawaii when I reconfirmed my reservations.
Cats_Do_Dance is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,022
On a flight SFO to Maui, our seats were double-booked -- which we discovered only after we boarded the plane, and found another couple in our seats.

The flight attendant was very polite, checked all 4 tickets, and invited me and hubby to sit in First Class (wu-huuuu!). Later I asked her, "Why us and not them?". Her reply _slayed_ me: "You two were dressed nicer".

Now I _always_ pay attention to my attire for long-distance flights!
auntiemaria is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hotels often overbook the lower categories of rooms and "upgrade" guests to higher categories. This is standard in the industry. The one thing they DON'T want to do is oversell a higher category and then have to downgrade!
Dan is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 10:57 AM
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Let me review how upgrades are given on MAJOR US carriers these days. It was different years ago before "elite" FF status, and extensive computer programs to set up the rules. Also, there can be variations among airlines, but in general most of the major US carriers operate this way.

Domestic flights:
1. If you buy a full-fare "Y" class economy tickets, you may be automatically upgraded to first upon reservation. Might as well, as there's little difference between the cost of a Y-fare ticket and a domestic first class.

2. The airline will start giving automatic upgrade to its "elite" FF members 72 hours prior to takeoff. Elite status go by various names, but usually have three levels - 25K miles, 50K miles and 75K miles - actual miles that are flown the previous calendar year. The 75K level members will get them first, and then 50K, and then 25K. If there are more members of the same level than there are first class seats left, then the airline will give priority based on the fare class.

3. Not all first class seats will be given away at 72 hours, as they'll reserve some seats to be bought. At 24-30 hours, they usually will release some more, and then about 3 hours prior to take off.

4. If there's a no-show of a first-class passenger (whether it's a paid ticket, or it's an upgrade), then the gate agent may give out last minute upgrade, or even grab the "elite" member from their economy seat if he/she has already boarded, and move them up to the first class.

Now, that desribes a normal flight that's not overbooked. But even if it is, they'll still move the "elite" members to the front first. The only chance that a non-elite flyer can get a first class seat is if the flight is overbooked, and all the possible elites have been upgraded and then there are still first class seats left. Very rare. Or if you volunteer to give up your seat on an overbooked flight, and they give you a first class seat on a later flight as compensation (with or without extra cash compensation).

1. No automatic upgrade from economy to business or first. Airlines will fly the front cabin empty rather than give out upgrades. The price differnece is too large.

2. The only chance of upgrading is if the flight is overbooked. Then, they will move the elite members up on that flight, or offer them a business class seat on a later/different flight.

3. However, on 3-class flights, I've heard of people getting upgraded from business to first. That seems to happen a little more frequently than from economy to business, again unless the flight is overbooked.

Finally, want to add that on international flights, you may have a better chance of upgrades by flying a non-US airline. Either because they're just more generous, or because they don't have such sophisicated computer programs to sort out the rankings of each passenger, upgrades do seem to be more random and more often on those airlines. It's not the case with US airlines.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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I got an upgrade on international just because I was nicer then the man who was in my double booked seat. As soon as he realized we were double booked he started yelling about how he "deserved" the exit row.

Also, sometimes traveling alone helps. In both cases of "free" international upgrades I have been solo. I think it was easier to upgrade me then to upgrade one person who might have then asked for thier spouse/friend to come with them.
CarolA is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 11:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 538
I was recently upgraded on a car rental from Budget Rental at SeaTac, because I was "early". Our flight had just arrived from Phoenix, and I noticed the Budget desk was right next to our baggage claim carousel. Leaving my kids (within sight) to get our luggage, I was the first one to the car rental desk. The agent was just finishing clipping a stack of coupons from who-knows-where. When I presented my reservation, he gave me an upgrade to a better class of car at no charge (presumably using one of the coupons). We loved the Buick Rendezvous, and now I want one!

dwoodliff is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,640
My son and his fiancee recently stayed at the RiverPlace Hotel in Portland, OR. He had booked a standard room and upon check-in they upgraded them to a very nice suite.

He didn't ask, I think it just all depends on how the availability is. This also happened to us at the Highland's Inn on our anniversary when we stayed there in December, maybe a slow month or something.

The upgrades sure are nice when the hotels will do this!! We were recently at the Plaza in Monterey and I asked for an upgrade, they said it would another $60 to have a room with a full view, so I declined the offer. It just depends on the hotel, I guess. ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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With some of the international airlines (non US) Honeymooners seem to have a good chance - but maybe only to the next class (i.e Premier Economy).

I've also regularly seen a full economy cabin and an empty business class cabin with no upgrading going on. So that doesn't seem a sure fire bet.

My friend, who regularly travels full fare economy, says he very occaisionally gets an upgrade.

My real success on upgrades has been where I have preselected my seat several months in advance and then they have put on a larger aircraft but left the seat assignment the same, effectively they reduce a 3 class plane to 2 class. As I usually select a seat as close to the front I've ended up in the business class cabin. It usually means that the whole business class cabin is now economy, so you get a whole lot of space but no bucks fizz. (Malaysian Airlines very good at this)

Hotels are a lot easier. I think genrally you have a lot more choice of where you stay in a city compaired with who and how you get to that city. Being a loyalty club member seems to help, as does booking through a travel agent (Kuoni, etc) who prenegotiate excellent rates and upgrades (i.e stay 3 nights and get a Harbour view room etc). What is quite common these days is the modest fee upgrade. I checked into a 5* hotel in KL (I was paying $100 a night (already discounted) for my room) I enquired about upgrades and was told for $50 USD a night I could be upgraded to a club suite (Usual rack rate of $650 a night) - an absolute bargain.

Walter_Walltotti is offline  
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