• Wednesday, December 06, 2023
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Be smart about your flying, get an airline upgrade


Airlines run loyalty plans, generally called Frequent Flyer schemes, and most offer access to the Business Class lounges. At the top level, you can often get access to lounges even when you’re flying on an airline different from your loyalty card.

But remember, these are loyalty cards – and carriers really do want to use them to ensure they win your patronage – but you can fight back, by pointing out that you can go elsewhere.

Simply put, when it comes to flying, the easiest and least expensive way to get a Business Class upgrade is to be an elite member in one or more of the airlines’ frequent flyer programs.

And there is a more comfortable way to fly than the cheap seats – business class. It is a lovely way to travel, where you can really rediscover the joy of flying.

The seats are a lot bigger for a start, the crew sometimes greet you by name, and they’ll look after your every whim (well – again, sometimes – but at least you get offered drinks), not mind if you fancy another beer, and even be nice to you.

Note, your mileage may vary.

You may ask “How do I get upgraded to first class on an airline?” 

According to Air reviewer, although there is certainly a degree of luck involved in getting an upgrade without paying extra, there are also ways of improving your chances of being in the right place at the right time, and equally avoid airlines who will rarely upgrade.

Airlines upgrade generally for two reasons: when there is a spare business class seat or when Economy is full, but there’s space at the pointy end of the plane.

Airlines also now select who to upgrade firstly by looking at their most loyal customers: the passengers they want to keep happy. And those passengers have that airline’s frequent flyer card at the highest tier level.

Even if you have this, airlines will pretty much never upgrade you unless you look the part, and normally you ask. There are no points gained for being shy. However opinions vary on this, and with a few airlines, some passengers recommend not asking.

Some people recommend that if you’ve complained politely about something that is the airlines fault, and you deserve a break, you may get an upgrade, but these are very rare.

Note also that most airlines around the world have 2, 3 or sometimes 4 classes. If your airline has a class above Economy, quite often that class is called Premium Economy, and all you get is a bigger seat. It’s a nice perk, but the food is no better.

Equally note that in the United States, they call things by different names: what airlines call First Class on their US domestic planes is actually just Business Class. And what US airlines call Club, is Business Class on an international route.