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Saturday, May 16, 2009

So Long, Coach: Get an Upgrade at the Airport

The unfortunate reality of business travel today involves cramped economy seats, rental cars, and second-tier hotels. These treasured tips for bagging an upgrade on your ticket class at the airport may be just what you need to say so long to coach.

  • Turn on the charm and ask nicely. If the agent at the ticket counter seems open and friendly, turn on your award-winning smile and ask politely if there is any chance for an upgrade today. While the chance of this working may be slim, it has worked for us in the past. Things to keep in mind: upgrading wholly depends on the authority of who you are speaking with, the open capacity of seats, and your status with the airline.
  • Look the part. We can all spot the difference between the well-traveled business exec and the casual traveler in sweatpants. Dress and act like a first-class passenger and your chances of getting upgraded are greatly enhanced.
  • Let the ticket agent know if you are traveling for a special occasion-a honeymoon or anniversary-and they may honor you with an unexpected upgrade.
  • Ask the ticket agent if they will add a code to your ticket, which will indicate to the gate agent that you are eligible for an upgrade. Do your research beforehand on which codes your airlines uses and when. Each airline has their own way of coding passengers and upgrades.
  • Ask the ticket agent about the cost of buying an upgrade. Depending on the flight, upgrades can cost as little as $150, which may be worth it for your cross-country trip.
  • Be willing to use your miles and upgrade certificates. For a flight of more than three hours, it can be a worthwhile use, especially on a packed plane.
  • When you board the plane, if you see an empty first class seat ask the flight attendant if it is available. Flight attendants will generally consider an upgrade if you are having an issue with your seat (seatbelt issues, broken seat) or problems with your neighbors (an upset small child, a smelly or oversized passenger).

  • When booking, try to add an OSI (Other Significant Information) to your ticket. This can be done when booking directly with an airline or with a travel agent. From the airlines perspective, an attractive OSI may be if you are a VIP, CEO, travel agent, magazine writer or event planner.
Originally published on NicoleWilliams

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