One of the perks of travel is getting an upgrade. It is a great feeling when you get to enjoy a service that others are paying so highly for, without having to spend any additional money. Everyone in the travel industry, be it airlines, hotels, cruise ships or car rental agencies, can give you an upgrade.
But upgrades don’t come easy, and other than the rare occasion where you get lucky to be pushed to first class because your economy seat has malfunctioned, you have work to earn your upgrades.
Below are a few strategies you can use to get an upgrade on your next trip:
- Join Frequent Flier Programs
Frequent flier programs are run by airlines in a bid to retain their loyal customers. When on this program, you will be treated as a priority customer and will enjoy benefits such as access to the lounge, priority baggage handling, access to priority seating and seat upgrades.
Even if you do not travel as frequently, you can still get access to upgrades. Stick to one loyalty program so that you accumulate your gains and earn elite status faster.
- Use a Travel Agent
Travel agents forge relationships with hotels and airlines. Using an agent will help you take advantage of those relationships, as he/she can get upgrades a lot easier than you can. If you try to do your booking on your own, it will be very difficult to get an upgrade.
Even when working with an agent, your loyalty is what will make the agent feel compelled to get you an upgrade. So don’t just show up one day and expect to get an upgrade. Maintain a good relationship with your travel agent and the upgrades will follow
- Ask Nicely
You can only get things by asking for them, but you have to ask nicely. This is, however, very tricky if you are not on a loyalty program, because such special favors are reserved for loyal customers.
There is an algorithm system that guides airlines on whom to give upgrades to. These algorithms perform a calculation based on how much money you’ve spent on your ticket and whether you are an elite customer as indicated by your loyalty points. As such, if you have booked a cheap ticket and are not on a loyalty program, it will be very difficult for you to get an upgrade.
As the system is computerized, you will find that airline employees are reluctant to give you an upgrade above others. Your dressing and smile will also not work any charms. Don’t take this personal; airline employees are employed to uphold the rules, and if you don’t qualify, they will politely inform you so.
The best thing for you to do is to get on a loyalty program and keep checking with the airline or hotel until they give you an upgrade.