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.
Farecompare.com: This is the new breed of automated fare comparison and alert systems. You can sign up for as many individual city pair alerts as you like, and you can also choose to see only those fares that have hit their historical low point or that have gone down by a lesser amount. You can also see a list of all fares from the airport(s) of your choice, and you can specify either domestic or first class fares. The alert sign up procedure is very clear and easy to use. The "Getaway Map" lets you browse a map from your chosen airport showing the lowest fares to various domestic and Canadian destinations, and you can refresh the map based on the exact week that you'd like to travel. Fares are listed from lowest to highest.
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.
For international flights, you are talking about an entirely different situation. Much more critically than better food and drinks, first- and business-class seats in most international aircraft convert into beds that are actually pretty darn comfortable. On a flight back from Tokyo in first class a few years ago, I was actually disappointed when we began our final descent; when is the last time that happened in coach?
Your flight may only have one or two upgraded seats available. To have a better chance of scoring a spot in first class, check in 11 hours before your scheduled departure, Sky Scanner says. If you get there before anyone else, the check-in attendants may be able to let you know if there are spare seats in first class. Since you’re the first one there, you’ll more than likely get dibs.
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.
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
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.
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.
Most cash bookings can be upgraded with Avios either at the time of booking or later on, depending on availability. Only the lowest economy (World Traveller) fares (Q, O and G) cannot be upgraded with Avios at any time. There must be reward flight availability in the next cabin for you to be able to upgrade to it using Avios. You won’t be able to upgrade with Avios at the airport or on board.
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.

Not such a long time ago — and a very good time it was, some say — a “surprise” upgrade wasn’t the rare thing it is today. In fact, if you traveled enough, it was almost just a matter of time before a check-in or gate agent, or even a flight attendant, slipped you a boarding pass with a very low row number — a golden ticket of sorts for many travelers.


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.
Sidestep.com: In early September, Sidestep added a unique fare alert product that allows you to track a specific airfare. To use this service, you need to first search for a fare between two cities. Once that's done you'll see the option to track the fare, and you can choose to track either nonstop or connecting/direct flights over a flexible travel date period of between 7 and 30 days in either direction of the dates for which you originally searched, which is a unique feature. Sidestep does not (yet anyway) offer a fare listing service.
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.
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