Hopper’s signature rabbit may seem a bit childish at first, but this bunny knows its stuff. The flexibility feature is especially useful: put in your home city and desired destination and Hopper will map out the entire year for you with color-coded prices. The dates are shown as month-long calendars, with colored boxes telling you when prices fall into certain categories, like less than $300 or +$500. The app-only service also predicts whether or not the price for your chosen dates may drop or not (they monitor up to 15 billion flight prices per day) and allows you to “Watch the Trip” —  a feature where Hopper will send you alerts if the price changes. If you know you need a vacation, but are flexible on your destination or dates, you can also set alerts for the app to tell you when there are destinations deals. This app is free to download. 
When it comes to flight upgrades, the airlines are caught in what is viewed by many to be a real Catch-22. Like any business, the airlines have an obligation to maximize revenue and make money for the company. Part of this revenue is generated from the outright sale of tickets in their Premium cabins - First Class and Business Class. However, they also have an obligation to their best customers, namely the frequent flyer and more specifically the Elite flyer to offer flight upgrades and other incentives. Maintaining, and even growing, the base of frequent flyers of an airline depends almost entirely on the "value" of their frequent flyer programs, especially for Elite members. The value of most programs is often judged by the number of seats an airline allocates for either free or mileage upgrades in the very same Premium cabins they are obligated to sell. Hence the Catch-22.

For eligible customers travelling on International flights with a Latitude (booking classes Y and B) or Premium Economy Flexible (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “P” booking class at time of request. For eligible customers travelling on North American and Caribbean flights with a Latitude (booking class Y, B) or Premium Economy Flexible fare (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “Z” booking class at time of request.
When requesting an eUpgrade to Business Class, you will always be offered the option to sit in the best available seat. For instance, if you originally requested an eUpgrade to Business Class, but there are no Business Class seats available at flight departure, and seats in Premium Economy are available, you will be offered a seat in Premium Economy. The eUpgrade requirements will naturally be adjusted accordingly.
The other nice thing about the results page is that it’ll show you connecting options (as long as you don’t limit it to nonstop flights at the outset), though bear in mind that every leg of a one- or multi-stop itinerary must have award availability in the desired class of service in order to book the entire trip with miles. Remember too that most award seat availability shown on ExpertFlyer will be at the saver level for all programs. This is nice in that it should be bookable using any partner program’s currency, but it won’t show you the expanded award inventory that’s sometimes available through certain programs.
Also, ask about availability at check-in, particularly on international flights, where the check-in agents sometimes have more control over the seating chart. Then, if seats appear to be available, check in again at the gate. The final, “miracle” upgrades always happen at the last minute, when all passengers are checked in and any remaining availability becomes clear. Make sure you are within earshot of the gate desk, although hovering over agents is not recommended.
Travel requires that you keep yourself updated with the latest flights status. Often, you would need to check the flights schedule of the airlines for a particular sector while planning your travel. In the age of internet, you can check the flights status and do the bookings far easily than ever before. Instead of running to the travel agent office or making frequent calls, you can get online with Yatra.com which provides an easy online interface to check out which all airlines are operating flights at what all times in a particular sector. We comprehensively cover more than 550 sectors within India, providing the latest sector-based flights information about the airlines operating in the area.
Airfarewatchdog.com: This is the only site in the group that lists and compares fares on Southwest Airlines (now the largest domestic carrier based on passengers boarded, but one that refuses to pay sites to send it traffic), as well as those on low cost carriers such as Allegiant and Skybus, which sell fares only on their own Web sites. Whereas the other sites listed here use computer programs to evaluate fares, Airfarewatchdog uses people, who actually test if seats are available at the fares listed (sometimes airlines file fares for which very few or no seats at all are available, which is very naughty of them).
This award and upgrade search is an option for both the Basic and Premium memberships, but the Premium subscription really comes in handy here thanks to the ability to search +/- 3 days from your desired date of travel. This allows you to view a week at a time, and you can also search for multiple fare classes. You can customize the display and even specify whether you want the platform to only return nonstop flights.
Yapta.com allows you to set up an alert for a specific flight. They call it a “refund” alert, since they set it up for watching a flight you’ve already booked but want to know if the price drops in case it’s with an airline (such as Alaska in my case) that gives refunds without fees if your price drops after booking. However, they don’t actually check whether you’re on the flight, so you could use it to simply watch a flight that you’re interested in but HAVEN’T YET booked. This wouldn’t be practical if there’s a wide variety of flights flying the route you want on the day you want in the time span you want, but in those cases where there are only a few flights that fit your needs, it might be practical to use this feature at Yapta.com to set up a fare alert for those specific flights.
Currently, only one member may sponsor an upgrade per reservation. For instance, if a Super Elite 100K and Prestige 25K member are travelling together on the same booking, it is not possible for the Super Elite 100K member to sponsor an upgrade for the departing flight(s), and for the Prestige 25K member to sponsor an upgrade for the return flight(s).
The second upgrade tip is to check the upgrade availability frequently. Although upgrade seats may not be available at the time you purchased the coach ticket the inventory for upgrades is constantly changing, right up until the time of departure. You can check with your airline every day or several times a week or you can use an alert service from some online services such as ExpertFlyer.com. ExpertFlyer.com now offers Flight Alerts, a service that allows you to program your actual flight or series of preferred flights for an upgrade or award. Flight Alerts will automatically search for open availability and notify you immediately once it locates a seat. The notification can be sent to three (3) different addresses including personal or work email, cell phone or PDA so no matter where you are or what you're doing, you will be notified the moment Flight Alerts finds the Premium seat you're looking for. Flight Alerts, or a similar notification program, can also assist you in finding seats using only awards miles.

When it comes to flight upgrades, the airlines are caught in what is viewed by many to be a real Catch-22. Like any business, the airlines have an obligation to maximize revenue and make money for the company. Part of this revenue is generated from the outright sale of tickets in their Premium cabins - First Class and Business Class. However, they also have an obligation to their best customers, namely the frequent flyer and more specifically the Elite flyer to offer flight upgrades and other incentives. Maintaining, and even growing, the base of frequent flyers of an airline depends almost entirely on the "value" of their frequent flyer programs, especially for Elite members. The value of most programs is often judged by the number of seats an airline allocates for either free or mileage upgrades in the very same Premium cabins they are obligated to sell. Hence the Catch-22.
Today, with profits essentially non-existent, airlines are oftentimes not releasing Premium seating for flight upgrades until an hour (or even minutes) before the flight's departure, hoping to sell those seats at full cash value. Only at this point do the airlines release the empty (non-purchased) Premium seats to their frequent flyers who use miles to get the award or the flight upgrade. So it becomes a race among frequent travelers to position themselves to obtain one of the coveted few Premium seats. And everyone you speak with seems to have their own method and strategy for getting into position to take advantage of these hard to come by flight upgrades.

If you’ve already booked an Econo or EconoFlex fare and are looking to upgrade to Premium, then you may be in luck. You can choose to upgrade to Premium for a fee at check-in, if seats in Premium are still available. For your flight you will enjoy priority boarding, extra leg and elbow room and on-board food and beverages (including beer, wine and spirits).1,2,3,4


You can find almost anything you need to know about airline schedules, seat maps, flight statuses and more using ExpertFlyer, but today’s guide is focused on one functionality: searching for award and upgrade space. The platform currently allows you to search for this inventory on nearly 90 different airlines, though the exact fare classes vary from carrier to carrier. Carefully review the list to see what inventory is available for your desired airline — American, for example, shows both award and upgrade space for its flights, whereas Delta upgrade space was removed several years ago.
Yapta.com: The newest entrant in this burgeoning field. There are two things you can do here: first, if you've already bought a fare, you can enter the flight locator number and then you'll get an alert if the fare has gone down. (Some airlines will refund the entire fare difference in the form of a voucher good for future travel within a year; others deduct $25 to over $300, depending on the fare and route.) But there's also a "Tagger" feature where you can track fares on individual flights, not just routes between two cities.
The best time to check in with airports is typically around 24 hours before your departure. You can also sign up for flight alerts, which allow you to program your flight or preferred flight for an upgrade. The alert will automatically search for open availability and let you know as soon as it’s open, giving you the best chance to scoot on up to the front.
Another important thing to remember is that you do not need to print your boarding pass at the time of online check-in. Many travelers make the mistake of waiting to check-in online until they have access to a printer. Check-in as close to the allowable time and pick up your boarding pass at the airport. With nearly every airline offering several electronic kiosks, gaining a boarding pass will take only a few minutes.

A price alert tracks the price of a specific route or flight. When the price changes, you’ll be notified via email or push notification if the price went up or down (and by how much). Price alerts are completely free, can be stopped at any moment and you can have multiple set up at once. They are hands-down one of the best ways to find cheap flights, fast.


However, Airfarewatchdog.com does not offer individual city pair alerts (although this is in the works); rather, if you sign up for alerts you'll get a list of fares from your chosen airports that the staff believes are unusually good deals. And the site doesn't monitor nearly as many routes and fares as some of the other sites on this list. Uniquely, however, each list of fares from a given airport also includes fares from nearby alternate airports on one page, and you can put your alerts on "vacation hold" for up to a year.
Farecast.com: This site is best known for predicting where an airfare on a particular route is going to go (up, down, or stay the same) over a period of time. But recently it, too, got into the fare listing game. From the home page, go to the "Airline Ticket Deals" section and you'll see a select, but not very extensive, list of fares from the airport of your choice. Unlike Farecompare, Farecast uses airfare data from Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, which in our experience is more accurate than ATPCO's data. Farecast's fares show all taxes up front, but Southwest, Allegiant, Skybus and a few other airlines' fares are not shown.
Within Momondo’s flight results, there are tabs across the top of the screen that let you move between the cheapest flight, quickest flight time as well as options for ‘early out’ and ‘late in’.  The results are extremely easy to read and feature all the information you need at a quick glance, including the carrier logo and total transit time. When you click on one of the them, you are quickly forwarded to the airline’s website.
One of the coolest features about Kiwi is that unlike it will look at ALL the cheapest possibilities, even if it means putting you on 2 totally separate flights. Other flight search engines will try to book the entire route on either the same airline or airlines with codeshares. It might not always be the fastest or more convenient, but great for anyone on a budget.
Sometimes you might be planning a trip but can’t fully commit to buying the tickets just yet. Price Alerts let you monitor the price history of your chosen flight so you can pounce if the airfares suddenly start to creep up. Or perhaps you want to go away on a specific weekend but the flights are far too expensive. Set a Price Alert and you’ll be sent an email immediately if there’s a price drop. Flight prices change frequently, but Price Alerts mean you won’t be caught on the hop if flight prices skyrocket – and you won’t miss out on a deal if prices plummet.

Farecast.com: This site is best known for predicting where an airfare on a particular route is going to go (up, down, or stay the same) over a period of time. But recently it, too, got into the fare listing game. From the home page, go to the "Airline Ticket Deals" section and you'll see a select, but not very extensive, list of fares from the airport of your choice. Unlike Farecompare, Farecast uses airfare data from Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, which in our experience is more accurate than ATPCO's data. Farecast's fares show all taxes up front, but Southwest, Allegiant, Skybus and a few other airlines' fares are not shown.
Only once you have confirmed your choice of preferred flights and completed the PFo Sign-up, Vietnam Airlines and Optiontown may choose to move you to those preferred flights. The availability of PFo is dynamic and may vary for different flights or time. For passengers who have connecting flights, kindly choose alternative flights that are suitable with your schedule. Vietnam Airlines will not take responsibility for those who miss connecting flights due to your selection of alternative flights. 
Sometimes you might be planning a trip but can’t fully commit to buying the tickets just yet. Price Alerts let you monitor the price history of your chosen flight so you can pounce if the airfares suddenly start to creep up. Or perhaps you want to go away on a specific weekend but the flights are far too expensive. Set a Price Alert and you’ll be sent an email immediately if there’s a price drop. Flight prices change frequently, but Price Alerts mean you won’t be caught on the hop if flight prices skyrocket – and you won’t miss out on a deal if prices plummet.
ITA Software Classic Matrix Tool - This tool allows you to search for fares in different sales cities so that you can accurately plan purchases in any city around the world. Additionally it has an undocumented feature that allows you to specify specific fare buckets. If you want to, for instance, search for A bucket availability on the HKG-JFK route on Cathay Pacific you would enter the search as From: HKG:: cx+ / f bc=a and To: JFK:: cx+ / f bc=a. You can substitute the "cx" with the proper airline code for the airline you wish to check, and substitute the "bc=a" with "bc=X" where X is the fare bucket you wish to check. If you wish to check multiple booking-codes and not place any restriction on the airline format the request as JFK::/ f bc=x|bc=y|bc=z to check the x, y, and z buckets. Another undocumented feature is the ability to request multiple segments on specific carriers (useful for mileage runs). If you want to travel from Los Angeles to New York and take 4 American Airlines segments, you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA AA AA AA and the destination city as JFK::AA AA AA AA. This will search for a 4 segment connection in each direction on AA. You can also force connections in specific cities. So, for instance, if you wanted to connect in STL from LAX to JFK on American Airlines you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA STL AA and the destination city as JFK::AA STL AA You can find the syntax by clicking "advanced routing codes" and then clicking on the little question mark next to the routing codes box. There is also a useful discussion of how to use this tool to the fullest on Flyertalk.
Brandon was thrust into the world of points and premium travel as a university student, and has made the most of it since. Now graduated, working from Launceston and somehow a Velocity Platinum frequent flyer, he eagerly awaits for more opportunities to explore the world from the pointy end of the plane.You can find him on Instagram as @bloo.per, as well as running a food/travel account @flightandbites with his partner. 

Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Andrew Phillips, Senior Technical Manager, recounts his lucky American flight upgrade: “Flying to the US a few years ago, I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind I think) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her…all the way up to business class!”

If your specific fare class qualifies you for an upgrade if a seat becomes available, you may receive offers by email or text to purchase (most often in cash but sometimes for miles) the option to upgrade as flight time approaches and seat availability becomes more clear. These tend to disappear quickly, so if you miss the message, the seat won’t last long.
Be late without reserving your seat: if you’re lucky and if the flight is overbooked, you might just be able to bag a premium class ticket. However, Joe Sarre, Senior Product Manager in APAC says it “works well at busy times, but it’s a dangerous game! If you’re too late you might miss the check-in time, or they might have already sorted their overbooking problems by giving upgrades to the passengers ahead.” Love flying by the seat of your pants? Check out our top tips for bagging a last-minute holiday.

Brandon was thrust into the world of points and premium travel as a university student, and has made the most of it since. Now graduated, working from Launceston and somehow a Velocity Platinum frequent flyer, he eagerly awaits for more opportunities to explore the world from the pointy end of the plane.You can find him on Instagram as @bloo.per, as well as running a food/travel account @flightandbites with his partner.

Be reasonable. Being overly demanding or demeaning just inspires agents to pick someone else to upgrade if the opportunity arises. And don’t waste everyone’s time and good will if you know that you are a poor candidate. If you are traveling with your whole family, have a pet lobster in a cage as your carry-on or purchased a ticket for an extremely low fare, you probably don’t want to spend your energy demanding upgrades.
Farecast.com: This site is best known for predicting where an airfare on a particular route is going to go (up, down, or stay the same) over a period of time. But recently it, too, got into the fare listing game. From the home page, go to the "Airline Ticket Deals" section and you'll see a select, but not very extensive, list of fares from the airport of your choice. Unlike Farecompare, Farecast uses airfare data from Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, which in our experience is more accurate than ATPCO's data. Farecast's fares show all taxes up front, but Southwest, Allegiant, Skybus and a few other airlines' fares are not shown.
Setting the benchmark for ease of use and functionality, Google Flights has become a go to flight search tool for any travel that doesn’t require the advanced routing and functionality of ITA Matrix. Tracking across multiple dates, destinations, and cabins, Google Flights will let you track individual airlines or alliances, choose the number of stops, and will wrap up any changes into an easily digestible email showing which prices have dropped/risen. If you have Google Now, you can have the price changes sent directly to the app, or you can see all tracked flight in the drop-down on the left of the Google Flights homepage.
When requesting an eUpgrade to Business Class, you will always be offered the option to sit in the best available seat. For instance, if you originally requested an eUpgrade to Business Class, but there are no Business Class seats available at flight departure, and seats in Premium Economy are available, you will be offered a seat in Premium Economy. The eUpgrade requirements will naturally be adjusted accordingly.
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