If I had to award a ‘peoples choice’ in this category, it would go to Hipmunk. It does almost as good a job of finding and tracking information on flights as Google Flights, but delivers it inside a better design, displayed according to the ‘agony factor’ of the flight (a combination of time in the air, departure and arrival times, cost and layover), in a beautiful interface.
Travelocity.com: Travelocity, as far as we know, was the first travel agency site to offer a fare watch system. Once upon a time, it tracked both international and domestic fares, but now only covers domestic/Canadian deals. To use it, go to the "Flights" tab and then to "Low Fare Alert" and then click on "Get email alerts" in the upper righthand corner under "Tools". You can sign up for alerts on up to five routes. On the Low Fare Alert page you'll also see a list of fares, from any given city, that have gone down in price from the previous day. Travelocity searches fares just once a day, however, compared to Farecompare's three times a day Monday-Friday.
We here at TPG love a solid loophole, and that’s what Skiplagged is all about. The app finds the cheapest fares by digging into what’s called “hidden city ticketing.” This means that sometimes booking a flight beyond your chosen destination is cheaper and your desired destination is simply a stop along the way. For example, if your flight from New York to Atlanta is coming up super expensive, Skiplagged may find a flight for half the price where the final destination is Fort Lauderdale, but Atlanta is a stop on the way. Clearly, some may consider this a grey area, and the airlines sure do. That’s why United sued Skiplagged, but Skiplagged won, so the app continues on! Keep in mind that you may have to make sacrifices for getting these cheaper fares, like not checking a bag (because it will end up at the final destination, not your desired one). This app is free to download.
If you are travelling with eUpgrade Companions, your individual priority on the airport standby list may differ (i.e., you may receive the upgrade but your companion may not). As such, we ask that you are present at the gate at the time indicated on your boarding pass in order to ensure the orderly allotment of upgrades and seat assignments. In the event that you wish to cancel your eUpgrade, our agents will make their best effort to return your original seat; however, we cannot guarantee it will still be available.
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.
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.
A flight 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). Flight alerts are completely free and can be stopped at any moment. It is also possible to have multiple price alerts set up at once which is a great option if you are comparing vacation destinations. It really is a must-have tool, especially for budget travelers, because flight alerts are hands-down one of the best ways to find cheap flights, fast.

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. 

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

David Rowell, who writes The Travel Insider, notes that “it is enormously harder to get upgrades these days than it used to be. Well, correction, it is harder to get undeserved upgrades these days. The procedure for getting upgrades that one is entitled to has become almost 100 percent automatic and hands-off, and with all flights being full in both cabins, there isn’t much ‘wiggle room’ for people to exploit.”


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 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.
Service surcharge levied on a booking or booking change (flight date) in line with Article 5.2.3 of the GCC, as booked via the call centre, at our airport sales desk or through a commercial agent ADD €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 (per booking, not per person and per journey) €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 / AED 94 / THB 900 plus difference in current flight price
Senior Marketing Manager Douglas Cook left it to his mum to get mad. He explains: “My dad had been working in Australia for a month and my mum, my brother and I were flying out to meet him. Qantas overbooked our first flight, made us wait for another, and then at our change disclosed they had done exactly the same thing on our connecting flight. My mum lost her rag, as we were now going to be days late meeting my dad. In the end they put us on a Singapore Airlines flight in first class, which as you might imagine was lovely, and as it left earlier and made good time meant we weren’t that late after all!”
Jumping on a fantastic deal via The Points Guy or playing around on Google Flights are obviously our preferred ways to book travel, but you may also be able to get a solid price searching via app. Of course, we’ve all used the tried and trusted Kayak app before, but there are others out there that might get you the best offer or price. Here, the TPG-approved list of the best apps for booking airfare.

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.


David Rowell, who writes The Travel Insider, notes that “it is enormously harder to get upgrades these days than it used to be. Well, correction, it is harder to get undeserved upgrades these days. The procedure for getting upgrades that one is entitled to has become almost 100 percent automatic and hands-off, and with all flights being full in both cabins, there isn’t much ‘wiggle room’ for people to exploit.”

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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.
If I want to use American miles to book a flight on Air Tahiti Nui — a partner some AA agents aren’t aware of — I’ll look up the flight availability on ExpertFlyer first. Once I find an available seat, I’ll call and ask an American agent for the specific flight and fare class I see on ExpertFlyer. If they cannot locate it, I’ll even use the airline’s two-character IATA code to help the agent find the flight I’m trying to book with miles (if you don’t know this code, see below; it’s included in the ExpertFlyer results).
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.
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.
Upgrade Bid upgrades can only be applied once to the next higher class. Upgrades to Business Class are only available for Premium Economy Class passengers. However, for aircraft or routes without Premium Economy Class, you would be invited to upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class. No further upgrade by cash or miles will be honoured after an Upgrade Bid upgrade has been offered.
Try a smile and a nice word or two when hoping to upgrade, Carolyn Paddock, owner of Inflight Insider, told Bankrate. From the second you enter the airport, be friendly. You’re not sure who will ultimately make the decision about your upgrade. And frequent fliers may have an even bigger advantage. If someone at the airport recognizes you and remembers how friendly you are, it could greatly increase your chances. So whether it’s an early morning or a late night, smile.

If, once all of the cost and technical factors are reckoned, a gate agent needs to pick someone to get a primo business class seat, it just might be the person who looks the part. The kiosk still doesn’t care, but in tricky situations eventually even the computers may have to cede authority to an actual person, and making a decent impression can’t hurt.
Senior Marketing Manager Douglas Cook left it to his mum to get mad. He explains: “My dad had been working in Australia for a month and my mum, my brother and I were flying out to meet him. Qantas overbooked our first flight, made us wait for another, and then at our change disclosed they had done exactly the same thing on our connecting flight. My mum lost her rag, as we were now going to be days late meeting my dad. In the end they put us on a Singapore Airlines flight in first class, which as you might imagine was lovely, and as it left earlier and made good time meant we weren’t that late after all!”
Airfarewatchdog – You can set up regular price alerts for favorite routes, but the real appeal for cheapskates with wanderlust is this site’s Top 50 Fares of the Day page. This tracks bargain airfares from Frontier, JetBlue, and other carriers prone to slash prices, as well as larger airlines. (Sample deal from earlier Wednesday: $40 for a roundtrip flight from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas).
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. 

Buy an extra seat. One interesting tactic to find yourself some breathing room offered by Petersen might appeal to folks traveling on very cheap sale fares: buy two coach tickets. Say you find one of these $100 roundtrip fares to Florida or the like; the airlines that offer these usually make up the difference in fees for checked bags, movies, food and other extras. However, if you don’t need headphones or to check a second bag, you can skip all those charges, and get yourself a heap of legroom for $50 — less than the cost of most premium seats.
Finding airline award space, especially in premium classes, can be an art form (and a challenging one at that). There are so many partnerships both within and across airline alliances, and some websites and phone agents are better at finding available seats than others. That being said, knowledge is power in the world of points and miles, and that’s exactly what ExpertFlyer provides. By allowing you to search award space and set alerts for your perfect itinerary, the platform equips you with the trip planning expertise you need with minimal effort on your part. Hopefully this guide has shown you exactly how to unleash the tool’s power as you plot your next redemption.
Certainly it wasn’t all chance that brought first-class upgrades floating one’s way, and a heavy battery of hard and soft tactics arose to increase your chances. Dress neatly, speak politely, fly the same airline regularly, inquire when offering your frequent flier number to the telephone booking person, stand a little taller at check-in if you can (for the tall-person sympathy upgrade), volunteer to give up your economy seat so a family might sit together, volunteer to be bumped on an overbooked flight.

If you are travelling with eUpgrade Companions, your individual priority on the airport standby list may differ (i.e., you may receive the upgrade but your companion may not). As such, we ask that you are present at the gate at the time indicated on your boarding pass in order to ensure the orderly allotment of upgrades and seat assignments. In the event that you wish to cancel your eUpgrade, our agents will make their best effort to return your original seat; however, we cannot guarantee it will still be available.
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