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.
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?
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.)
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 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).
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.
You’re tired of economy class. Instead, you want to spend your flight relaxing in first class, soaking up the spacious seats and good food. While there are always going to be situations when first class is full and you’re just out of luck, there are also going to be plenty of opportunities to try to work your way to the front of the plane. Most of the time, the little things that go a long way.
I like Skyscanner.com because it has the open-ended “everywhere” option. You just type in your departure city (or general area such as your state) and in the destination box, you can select “everywhere.” What I don’t like about this option that it will only populate for departures from major cities. When I type in my airport, I have to click on each destination to get prices, a bit labor intensive. It does offer a nice map view of the entire world populated with the lowest-priced fares from any departure city. You can easily set up an alert for any combination of cities but not to “everywhere.”
You can use your eUpgrade Credits to request an upgrade on any eligible Air Canada, Air Canada Express, and Air Canada Rouge flight which features a Business Class, Premium Economy or Premium Rouge cabin, so long as you have a ticketed reservation. You will also need to ensure that your Aeroplan number is entered as your frequent flyer number on your reservation in order to complete an upgrade.
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.
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.
Setting up airfare alerts can definitely help save you money when booking flights, and luckily there are dozens of sites that offer such a service — but finding one that fits your preferences can be challenging. Here are ten sites that offer alerts to help you determine the right time to buy your tickets, alert you to new deals you might want to consider, allow tracking of a specific flight, and some that will even forecast price trends.
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.
Having a hip chipmunk find the best airfare may initially seem weird, but the Hipmunk app makes things super clear, with user-friendly charts that map your journey by price, time of day, airline, length of layover and even whether or not your aircraft has Wi-Fi. The app will also track flight prices and provide notifications when the best time to buy is. The “discover” feature offers deals on destinations like Canada or Mexico, and also offers inspiration like “beaches” or “outdoor.” Once you’ve booked a flight you can also reserve a hotel, too. This app is free to download.
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.
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.
Bestfares.com: Earlier this year, Best Fares underwent a design change and now its fare listing area most nearly resembles Fare Compare (below) more than any other site. On the home page, you'll see a box that reads "Type your Departure City here" and a "go" button. You'll see a listing of fares to hundreds of airports from your city. These fares include some but not all taxes, and you'll also see "member only fares" listed along with "published" fares.
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.
Airline computer booking systems have become so sophisticated that most upgrades are doled out based on a complex brew of data, and it’s now much more likely that a computer (rather than a helpful airline agent) decides if you get an upgrade or if you are stuck in a middle seat in the back of the plane. This article includes a couple of interesting graphics on how Delta and United assess upgrade eligibility.
An upgrade can occur when the economy class cabin is full or oversold but premium cabins aren’t, the Telegraph writes — so traveling on a busy flight may actually work in your favor. “Flights to beach resorts during the school holidays, when the majority of fellow passengers will be families, are a good bet. Monday morning flights to Frankfurt — not so much,” according to the publication.
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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.