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 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).
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.
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).
If the flight is relatively empty, your chances are slim. Even though seats in business class may also be empty, the airlines don’t usually upgrade people for no reason. If the flight is full, your chances are better. Airlines carefully plan how much they oversell flights, and their inventory departments are not upset if people need to be upgraded to accommodate everybody on the flight. Therefore, on a full flight the airlines sometimes are forced to upgrade people. In this scenario, if you have a good story, you may be lucky. Remember, of course, that business or first class may already be full from prebooked elite-level upgrades.
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.
Which, if any, of these sites allow you to say “please add the cost of extra legroom seats” on airlines A, B, and C but not on airlines X, Y, and Z, as you set up a fare alert? (On certain airlines, I get access to exit rows or extra legroom seats for free, while on other airlines I have to pay for that access. And as a tall person, that’s important to me. But that means the price without that added is irrelevant to me on those airlines where I would have to pay extra for the “decent” seat.)
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
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.
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.
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. 

Which, if any, of these sites allow you to say “please add the cost of extra legroom seats” on airlines A, B, and C but not on airlines X, Y, and Z, as you set up a fare alert? (On certain airlines, I get access to exit rows or extra legroom seats for free, while on other airlines I have to pay for that access. And as a tall person, that’s important to me. But that means the price without that added is irrelevant to me on those airlines where I would have to pay extra for the “decent” seat.)

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.
Internet Airfares: Long before there was a Farecast or a Farecompare, there was Internet Airfares, an easy to use if limited site that shows the best fare reductions from various cities. It's not pretty, and only about 50 departure airports in the US and Canada are covered, but it has its charms. Again, no Southwest Airlines and this site doesn't send out email alerts.

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
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.
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).
I name the alert, select the applicable class, set the quantity and then click Verify and Create. As soon as I do that, the site will start searching automatically and will email me when it finds at least that many seats. Now ExpertFlyer won’t actually book the flight for you; it’s still up to you to go online or call the carrier through which you want to book to actually ticket the reservation.
Open the Skyscanner app or visit the Skyscanner Canada website, search for the flight you wish to take, and click “Get Price Alerts” button. You will then be prompted to enter your email address so we can send you alerts when the price of your flight has changed. To set up a proper price alert, you must select specific dates to depart and return. You are also able to set up airfare alerts for one-way flights.

Upgrade to Business / Upgrade to First - The upgrade notification email will be sent between 48 to 4 hours before departure for chosen passengers, however, the upgrade will be granted at the airport check-in counter subject to seat availability at that time. Kindly check with the airline agent at the airport check-in counter for your upgrade decision. The facility to upgrade at the Airport will be open up to 1 hour before the departure of flight.
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.

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.


If your itinerary is botched or implodes for some reason, particularly if it affects only you and no one else (such that the airline is not trying to accommodate lots of folks in the same situation), your case for an upgrade on a subsequent flight becomes more compelling. The airline is not obligated to upgrade you, but if this happens, pleasantly but firmly let the gate agents know that if an upgraded seat is available on your rebooked flight, you would greatly appreciate getting that seat.
Skyscanner isn’t unique to searching just for flights, as you can also shop around on the app for rental cars and hotels. The app is particularly useful for travel inspiration, as it has special sections for categories like solo travel, quick getaways and kid-free vacations. It also has recommendations and deals for last-minute trips, providing you with pricing for a variety of destinations. It also pulls in the best deals by month, and includes photos of each city, making sure you get a solid dose of wanderlust as you organize your trip. If you happen to know your destination and dates already, the app’s clear, concise interface makes it easy to see pricing and information. This app is free to download.
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.
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.
I name the alert, select the applicable class, set the quantity and then click Verify and Create. As soon as I do that, the site will start searching automatically and will email me when it finds at least that many seats. Now ExpertFlyer won’t actually book the flight for you; it’s still up to you to go online or call the carrier through which you want to book to actually ticket the reservation.
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.

The first upgrade tip is to consider using your accumulated miles for flight upgrades as far in advance as possible (flights are often posted up to 330 days prior to scheduled departure). Even this far out the airlines will usually make available at least a couple of seats for mileage upgrades but not for awards. This is important to understand. Consider purchasing an inexpensive coach ticket and use your miles to upgrade. An additional benefit to doing this is you will earn qualified miles for the paid coach ticket (you receive zero credit on a Premium seat using miles exclusively). If you want or need to use your awards miles for securing a ticket (without an actual ticket purchase), you should follow the same rules of checking the availability as far out as possible.
Farecompare gets its data from a company called ATPCO, which processes fares from the airline computer systems and delivers them to travel agencies and what are known in the industry as Global Distribution Systems (GDS's) such as Sabre, Galileo, and Apollo. Domestic fares are updated by ATPCO (and thus by Farecompare) three times a day during the week and once a day on weekends.
Ask your travel agent. My own travel agent has a relationship with certain airlines that let her book her customers into preferred seats that are not released to everyone (usually toward the front of the plane, in exit rows and the like). She can also see upgrade availability fairly quickly, and many agents can add comments to your reservation that increase your chances of being chosen for an upgrade. Ask about these the next time you talk to your travel agent.
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.
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.
You can carry any government-issued photo identification like your driving license, pan card, passport, Aadhar card and voter id card. However, do ensure to take the original copy of whatever ID proof you are carrying as the photocopy or the photograph on your mobile or laptop will not be considered valid. If you have lost your only ID and are just left with the photocopy, then carry an affidavit along with it.
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.
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.

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. 

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.


Upgrade to Business / Upgrade to First - The upgrade notification email will be sent between 48 to 4 hours before departure for chosen passengers, however, the upgrade will be granted at the airport check-in counter subject to seat availability at that time. Kindly check with the airline agent at the airport check-in counter for your upgrade decision. The facility to upgrade at the Airport will be open up to 1 hour before the departure of flight.
Call centre service fee when subsequently booking additional services that can be booked online (e.g. additional luggage) RAD €10 / £9 / CHF 12 / $12 / CZK 257 / SEK 102 / NOK 95 / PLN 43 / HUF 3,190 (per booking, not per person and per journey) €10 / £9 / CHF 12 / $12 / CZK 257 / SEK 102 / NOK 95 / PLN 43 / HUF 3,190 / AED 47 / THB 500 (per booking, not per person and per journey)
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.
×