If you don't have access to a service such as Flight Alerts, check in with the airlines 24 hours prior to departure. If an upgrade is still unavailable at this point, check in online at the airline's Web site. Most airlines establish a waitlist for upgrades at the airport. Priority is usually given to those who have checked-in the earliest and with online check-in available 24 hours prior to departure; this will greatly increase your chances of getting that elusive upgrade.


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.
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!”

Number 2 is that you don’t even need to know where you want to go. Based solely on your fixed dates or a broad time period, the Explore option shows you where is cheapest to fly, which is a perfect tool for the early stages of your trips. I use it this feature a lot when planning a trip itinerary or choosing which hub city should I adopt in a multi-city trip.
Setting up airfare alerts can definitely help save you money when booking flights, and luckily there are dozens of sites that offer such a service — but finding one that fits your preferences can be challenging. Here are ten sites that offer alerts to help you determine the right time to buy your tickets, alert you to new deals you might want to consider, allow tracking of a specific flight, and some that will even forecast price trends.
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.
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.

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.


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 member fares are typically specially negotiated fares — sometimes called "consolidator" fares — that are offered from time to time to various travel agents. You cannot book fares on Bestfares.com; rather you have to call a toll-free number to complete your purchase. But like Farecompare.com below, Bestfares.com provides a good barometer of where fares are at any given moment, and the fares are updated throughout the day.

If you don't have access to a service such as Flight Alerts, check in with the airlines 24 hours prior to departure. If an upgrade is still unavailable at this point, check in online at the airline's Web site. Most airlines establish a waitlist for upgrades at the airport. Priority is usually given to those who have checked-in the earliest and with online check-in available 24 hours prior to departure; this will greatly increase your chances of getting that elusive upgrade. 

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.
Bestfares.com: Earlier this year, Best Fares underwent a design change and now its fare listing area most nearly resembles Fare Compare (below) more than any other site. On the home page, you'll see a box that reads "Type your Departure City here" and a "go" button. You'll see a listing of fares to hundreds of airports from your city. These fares include some but not all taxes, and you'll also see "member only fares" listed along with "published" fares.
Airline computer booking systems have become so sophisticated that most upgrades are doled out based on a complex brew of data, and it’s now much more likely that a computer (rather than a helpful airline agent) decides if you get an upgrade or if you are stuck in a middle seat in the back of the plane. This article includes a couple of interesting graphics on how Delta and United assess upgrade eligibility.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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