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.

And no, we don’t mean turning up at Stansted as the Blues Brothers. Leave the tracksuit at home and dress as if you’ve just been browsing the FT in the exec lounge – either full-on formal or business casual (pink herringbone shirt, beige chinos, tan brogues) does the job. Having gained a business class upgrade with her boyfriend to South Africa, Talent Acquisition Coordinator Fiona Nimmo advises “looking good, wearing your Sunday best and smiling”. For more holiday fashion tips, follow our guide on what to pack for every kind of trip.

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.
Once you have the date, flight number and fare class of an award seat, call a phone agent and feed them the exact information to save you time and stress. In fact, phone agents will often thank you for making their lives easier, especially for those who are new or have never searched for the specific partner your trying to book. You may even encounter an agent who doesn’t realize they even partner with the airline you’re trying to book.
With several travel agencies striving for your interest ,it is significant which website gives you exact and precise information about the availability of flight tickets and that also which are cheap and suiting your pocket. There are many people who are frequently traveling either for their business or job or just can’t resist traveling around the globe. But to fly often with rates shooting up like anything it is no longer easy and it will surely leave a big hole in your pocket.
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).
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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.
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.
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!”

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.


And no, we don’t mean turning up at Stansted as the Blues Brothers. Leave the tracksuit at home and dress as if you’ve just been browsing the FT in the exec lounge – either full-on formal or business casual (pink herringbone shirt, beige chinos, tan brogues) does the job. Having gained a business class upgrade with her boyfriend to South Africa, Talent Acquisition Coordinator Fiona Nimmo advises “looking good, wearing your Sunday best and smiling”. For more holiday fashion tips, follow our guide on what to pack for every kind of trip.


It’s worth a shot, right? According to the Telegraph, a MoneySavingExpert.com poll showed that 4 percent of participants said they received a free upgrade just by asking someone at the check-in desk. When you do ask, have a good reason: There’s a better chance you’ll get your request if you have a valid excuse, such as being pregnant, celebrating a special occasion, or being exceptionally tall.
Short of searching day by day (either on their site, or on Expert Flyer which looks pretty good, thanks) do you have any tips for searching VA international business class? I want a return to LAX any time next year, don't mind when, with 10-14 days over there. I few sample dates pulled up nothing, whether short notice, 6 months away or 10 months away...

This information flow can be incredibly helpful when trying to book award seats not available online or with programs that have challenging phone agents. If you wanted to redeem Etihad miles for a business class flight from Prague (PRG) to Seoul (ICN) on Czech Airlines for the amazing price of 25,610 Etihad miles, don’t rely on hit-or-miss Etihad phone agents to find space; use ExpertFlyer and have the flight number and date in hand for this one-of-a-kind award flight:

The way you dress could be the extra push you need to get your first-class seat, the Huffington Post says. The day you’re hoping to upgrade is not the day to wear flip flops and ripped jeans. According to Bankrate, if there’s a seat open in first class, it’s most likely going to the person who’s dressed like they should be sitting there. No need to go overboard with a full suit — nice and neat will do.


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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.
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.

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.

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