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.
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.)
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Your flight may only have one or two upgrade places available, so maximise your chances of bagging them by rocking up at check-in ten hours before the scheduled departure. If it backfires, you’ll have to kill a murderous amount of time in Starbucks, but it worked for Product Manager David Low: “My wife and I were flying to the Dominican Republic. We’d got to Glasgow Airport far too early but at least there was no queue. The check-in lady told us that they had two spare seats in first class, and since we were first to arrive, we could have them for free. So we happily accepted.”
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.
Jumping on a fantastic deal via The Points Guy or playing around on Google Flights are obviously our preferred ways to book travel, but you may also be able to get a solid price searching via app. Of course, we’ve all used the tried and trusted Kayak app before, but there are others out there that might get you the best offer or price. Here, the TPG-approved list of the best apps for booking airfare.
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.
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.
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.
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.