The second upgrade tip is to check the upgrade availability frequently. Although upgrade seats may not be available at the time you purchased the coach ticket the inventory for upgrades is constantly changing, right up until the time of departure. You can check with your airline every day or several times a week or you can use an alert service from some online services such as ExpertFlyer.com. ExpertFlyer.com now offers Flight Alerts, a service that allows you to program your actual flight or series of preferred flights for an upgrade or award. Flight Alerts will automatically search for open availability and notify you immediately once it locates a seat. The notification can be sent to three (3) different addresses including personal or work email, cell phone or PDA so no matter where you are or what you're doing, you will be notified the moment Flight Alerts finds the Premium seat you're looking for. Flight Alerts, or a similar notification program, can also assist you in finding seats using only awards miles.
So, for example, if you really like to take United's morning nonstop between New York and LA, you can track just that flight to see if the price drops to a level you specify, and you'll also get an alert if the price drops between the time you buy and when you fly. Yapta requires that you download an applet, and only works with Internet Explorer 6 or 7, which means it doesn't work on Macs, although a Mac/Firefox version is in the works. And it does not (yet) track fares on all airlines — just 11 so far, and as usual Southwest isn't one of them.

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?


etix® is an electronic ticket that replaces paper tickets. It has a 13-digit number in addition to your booking code. You receive this etix® ticket number under certain circumstances, for example if you book through the Lufthansa website or a travel agent. It is saved for you in the etix® database. When you present your etix® ticket number and a photo ID, you will receive your boarding pass.
Scott’s Cheap Flights – Founder Scott Keyes and his team have an uncanny knack for finding rock-bottom prices for international flights (recent deals include Atlanta to Lima for $165—versus a normal roundtrip price of $800—and flights to the Turks & Caicos in the $200-$300 range from dozens of cities). The newsletter has both a free and paid option. The free option offers plenty of updates, but avid travelers (and deal hounds) may want to spring for the paid version.
I use Yahoo to search for fares, but although during the search it allows me to narrow down earliest and latest departure (and/or arrival) times, it doesn’t update the price range available based on that, so I doubt it could do useful alert based on that. (I’ve used Yapta for watching a specific flight I’ve already booked to see if it goes down, but that’s a bit different.)
I’ve included these two together in this instance as the startup team behind Yapta jumped on board with KAYAK back in February of 2010, and the two websites share a crossover of features and a similar design. The combination of Yapta and KAYAK probably offers the most powerful combination of features for tracking flight costs, but it can be a touch finicky to use and is not as intuitive as Google Flights.
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? 

A price 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). Price alerts are completely free, can be stopped at any moment and you can have multiple set up at once. They are hands-down one of the best ways to find cheap flights, fast.
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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.
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You can find almost anything you need to know about airline schedules, seat maps, flight statuses and more using ExpertFlyer, but today’s guide is focused on one functionality: searching for award and upgrade space. The platform currently allows you to search for this inventory on nearly 90 different airlines, though the exact fare classes vary from carrier to carrier. Carefully review the list to see what inventory is available for your desired airline — American, for example, shows both award and upgrade space for its flights, whereas Delta upgrade space was removed several years ago.
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).
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.

If you are travelling on a reservation with more than two passengers, we strongly recommend that you request your upgrade prior to your day of travel or, at the latest, during check-in with an agent at the airport. Although we will do our utmost, it may not always be possible for us to honour upgrade requests made at the gate when travelling on such reservations.
Don’t get me wrong — when I am filing past the first few rows of seats on my way to the back of the plane, those big leather seats with folks already drinking wine in them have a strong allure. But those seats come with a cost, whether in cash or in miles, and on domestic flights you don’t get all that much more than the folks in coach — it’s usually the same meals, albeit for “free,” the same headphones with the same movies or DirecTV, and the same limited seat incline.
With your chosen route selected, look to the left of your screen. You should see a button with a bell icon that says “get price alerts”. This is what you want to click. If you are already signed in, you are good to go. If not, it will ask you for your email. Enter your email address then click ‘Create Alert’. You will now be notified of any price changes for this route.
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. 
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.
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