Airline Upgrade

Generally, an airline upgrade refers to moving from an "economy class" seat to a "first class" seat. You get extra services and comfort when you sit in first class. For example, you do not pay extra for beverages.

Seating arrangements are only two-across and the seats are extra wide.

It is important to know that airlines tickets fall into categories. Different categories have different prices. We refer to these categories as a ticket class. You could have a "B" class ticket, a "C" class ticket, first class ticket, and so forth.

Economic and operational factors determine ticket prices. Those factors also determine how tickets are classified.

Different people can pay a different price for tickets, even though they purchase tickets on the same day for the same flight.

Different classes of tickets have different restrictions. Restrictions refer to what you can or cannot do if you want to make changes after you purchase your ticket.

There are also discounted tickets and full fare tickets.

A full fare ticket of course cost more than a discount ticket. A full fare ticket generally means that a ticket is refundable, if you should decide not to take your flight. Or, if you decide to exchange your ticket later.

You may hear about a change in the classification of a ticket. For example, a "C" class ticket changed to a full fare ticket. This is not the same as upgrading to first class, even though first class tickets are also refundable.

An airline upgrade will usually cost you nothing.

Or, at least, less than if you had originally booked a first class or business class seat.

You can increase your chances of flying in first or business class by booking flights on wide-bodied planes. Wide-bodied planes, such as the 747, have more first and business class seats. (Check www.seatguru.com for plane configurations.)

In addition, you have a better chance when you travel to destinations with little business traffic. Albuquerque, New Mexico comes to mind.

Another tip to get an upgrade pertains to overbooked flights.

Airlines intentionally overbook a route in order to ensure getting the maximum number of people on that flight.

Experienced travelers buy tickets on routes that are often overbooked.

If more people show up to fly than there are available seats, the airlines will make an announcement for volunteers to give up their seats. You could offer to do so in exchange for a first class seat on the next available flight.

If you have a stockpile of loyalty points, use them for an upgrade. Those points have a greater value for airline upgrades than for a free economy class ticket.

Sometimes, economy seats are oversold but some first class seats remain available. If you wait to board late, they may offer you an upgrade. After all, they are going to have to upgrade someone.

If you are the first in line at the gate counter, inquire about an upgrade. However, ask the gate representative, not the check-in agent. The check-in agent has no control on domestic first class seating.

A final tip is to ask friends if they are holding transferable coupons that are about to expire. If so, perhaps you can strike a deal.

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Also, see...

Cruise and Travel Upgrades
Dressing well may help you.

Car Rental
Reserve the most popular model.

Hotel Room
For a weekend or holiday trip, book your hotel in the business district.

Cruise Cabin
The true and tried method is simply to ask. Also, consider off-peak times.

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