Whenever airlines overbook flights and need folks to give up a seat, that is when you have the most leverage for getting concessions and upgrades from the airline. Most of us have been in airports listening to increasingly urgent announcements looking for volunteers to give up their seat; in that situation, you can go up to the gate, set your conditions and then let the airline decide if it can meet those conditions.
For eligible customers travelling on International flights with a Latitude (booking classes Y and B) or Premium Economy Flexible (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “P” booking class at time of request. For eligible customers travelling on North American and Caribbean flights with a Latitude (booking class Y, B) or Premium Economy Flexible fare (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “Z” booking class at time of request.
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!”
Sites in this latter category, which is growing at a rapid clip, may include a search component, but they also provide a list of low fares and/or alerts about such fares, either delivered by e-mail or posted online. They're ideal for people who are just looking for somewhere cheap to visit, or who are hoping to travel on specific routes but want to buy when fares are at their lowest. In alphabetical order, here are 10 of the best.
Finding flight availability for getting from point A to point B is easy to do with the right tools. ExpertFlyer makes it easy for you to search for flight availability on a number of airlines, view fares for flights, check seat availability, connecting flights and so much more. Your membership makes your flight availability search simple and beneficial especially for the frequent flyer.
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.
Kiwi’s interactive map feature is especially useful. Set your home city and look at the map to see how much different cities would cost to fly to. Once you select your destination, you can sort your results into either recommended, cheapest or shortest flight. Kiwi finds the cheapest pricing by pulling in different carriers, but you may have to book separate tickets — which shouldn’t be a problem for bargain hunters or those on a budget. For example, if you want to fly from New York (JFK) to Dublin (DUB), you could always fly nonstop on United, which you’ll find as a result in the ‘shortest’ category. But if you click on the “cheapest” category, you can book one leg from JFK to London (LGW) on Norwegian, and then a Ryanair ticket from London (LGW) to Dublin (DUB), saving you several hundred dollars. Booking directly on the app makes it easier than heading to each airline’s page and booking separate tickets. This app is free to download.
The best time to check in with airports is typically around 24 hours before your departure. You can also sign up for flight alerts, which allow you to program your flight or preferred flight for an upgrade. The alert will automatically search for open availability and let you know as soon as it’s open, giving you the best chance to scoot on up to the front.

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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.
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.
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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