How to Upgrade Your Airline Seat
You might come across numerous sites offering tips on how to get cheap airline tickets, but what about getting an upgrade to business or first class? Unfortunately, itís never a sure thing. In general, airlines give passengers upgrades based on seat availability, type of fare paid and frequent flyer status.

Everyone wants to buy a cheap economy class ticket and get upgraded to business class or first class. Who doesn't want more comfort, more legroom, better service and lounge access, which is standard for first and business class passengers? The current generation of flat seats in premium cabins of major carriers make flying long-haul much more comfortable than ever before.
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How to Upgrade Your Airline Seat Published On: April 02, 2009 
Top 10 Senior Travel Tips Our CheapOair-Experts have compiled different ways in which you can improve your chances of landing an upgrade to business or first class.

Politeness: Courtesy and kindness does go a long way; being rude to staff while requesting an upgrade will automatically eliminate you from consideration.

Attitude: Always ask; never demand. Your attitude should be respectful and tactful. Don't make an excuse for why you should be upgraded. Rather than declaring, "I need an upgrade!" try: "Am I eligible for an upgrade?"

Attire: A sloppy appearance may hinder your ability to get a free upgrade. Wearing professional or business casual attire might increase your odds. Frequent Flier Program: Being an elite member of the airlines frequent flier program will improve your chances. But, understand, there may be other flyers with longer tenure as members who are also looking for those upgrades.

  1. Arriving Early:
    • Book flights that leave early in the day and arrive at the check in counter before the crowds arrive. There are often fewer flyers competing for available upgrades. Agents are often less-pressured and more receptive to requests.

    • Airlines generally sellout economy-class seats first, but seats are often empty in the business and first class cabins. When the economy section is overbooked, passengers are moved up front. So check-in early or you might miss an opportunity to be upgraded.

  2. Redeem Frequent-Flyer Miles:
    • Frequent-flyer program status won't always guarantee a free upgrade. So if you've got miles to spare, use them to "buy" an upgrade. Redeeming those miles for an upgrade, especially on long international flights, can be an easy route to a great air travel experience.

    • You can become a member of many different airlines frequent flier programs.

  3. Paying for an Upgrade:
    • These daysí free upgrades may be numbered. Modern airline systems allow airlines to fill seats more efficiently, which reduces the number of last-minute upgrade opportunities. Sometimes, the simplest way to get an upgrade is to pay for it.

    • Many domestic carriers, in an attempt to earn more business, will happily sell first class seat upgrades on a first-come, first-serve basis. Obviously, they want to earn as much money as possible and they will release first class seats typically only at the airport and only on the day of departure. For example, instead of paying $1,200 for a first class flight coast to coast, you might end up paying $300 for the coach ticket and just $150 each way for the first class upgrade. Other airlines sell first class upgrades on the day of departure for under $100.

    • Keep in mind that there are specific rules for ďwhoĒ can use upgrades and how those upgrades are used. You need to read the fine print carefully.

  4. Willingness to Change your Seat:
    Always be willing to move when asked. Once a man refused to move because he was seated on the aisle, what he didnít realize was that the seat they were offering him was in first class. So make sure you check and pay attention to all the options that are being made available to you.

  5. Special fares:
    When you book your airline ticket, ask about upgrades and prices. There is a fare called Y-UP that cost a little more, but increases your upgrade chances immensely. Many times there are ongoing promotions to increase first class revenue.

  6. Legitimate Reasons: Ask a flight attendant for an upgrade if you see a seat available. Typically flight attendants never upgrade passengers. Simply asking for an upgrade is not going to work. However, there are legitimate reasons why a flight attendant will upgrade you. Here are a few:

    • An oversold flight: Typically airlines overbook flights and hope that some passengers will simply not show. If, however, there are more passengers than seats in coach, your best chance to be upgraded is to be assigned a seat towards the front of the aircraft. If there are no seats left and the flight is oversold, you may also be asked to volunteer to take a later fight. This might also mean monetary compensation, but not necessarily a first class upgrade.

    • A problem with your seat: In some cases where your seat has malfunctioned and you cannot be seated comfortably, i.e. a seat-belt problem or the seat will not stay in the upright position; the flight attendant will attempt to find you another seat. If no other seats are available in coach, yet space is available in business or first, you will be moved to business or first class. However, this is a very rare occurrence, and you should never try to intentionally break your seat.

    • A problem with a fellow passenger: If by chance you are sitting next to a passenger and you have a legitimate complaint, the flight attendant can, at his/her discretion, move you to business or first class.
An upgrade on a domestic business or first class flight, hoping that it exists in the first place, probably might not be worth the effort. But, when it comes to international flights, it sure is. Itís not just about free drinks and slightly bigger seats; we are talking about fine dining, premium wines and seats that convert into beds. So if you want an upgrade, consider doing it on an international flight. Every so often airlines will give out free upgrades for operational reasons.

We hope that the above mentioned tips increase your chances of getting that elusive upgrade to business or first class, so you can jet set to your next destination.
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