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).
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.
Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »
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.
Last year, American was upgrading passengers based on both elite status and the time you get on the waiting list (more or less first come, first served). Recently it has changed to priority based on annual spending, and the importance of timing is lessened, but there still seems to be some advantage to getting on the wait list early. Which leads us to the following…
Airfarewatchdog.com: This is the only site in the group that lists and compares fares on Southwest Airlines (now the largest domestic carrier based on passengers boarded, but one that refuses to pay sites to send it traffic), as well as those on low cost carriers such as Allegiant and Skybus, which sell fares only on their own Web sites. Whereas the other sites listed here use computer programs to evaluate fares, Airfarewatchdog uses people, who actually test if seats are available at the fares listed (sometimes airlines file fares for which very few or no seats at all are available, which is very naughty of them).
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.
ITA Software Classic Matrix Tool - This tool allows you to search for fares in different sales cities so that you can accurately plan purchases in any city around the world. Additionally it has an undocumented feature that allows you to specify specific fare buckets. If you want to, for instance, search for A bucket availability on the HKG-JFK route on Cathay Pacific you would enter the search as From: HKG:: cx+ / f bc=a and To: JFK:: cx+ / f bc=a. You can substitute the "cx" with the proper airline code for the airline you wish to check, and substitute the "bc=a" with "bc=X" where X is the fare bucket you wish to check. If you wish to check multiple booking-codes and not place any restriction on the airline format the request as JFK::/ f bc=x|bc=y|bc=z to check the x, y, and z buckets. Another undocumented feature is the ability to request multiple segments on specific carriers (useful for mileage runs). If you want to travel from Los Angeles to New York and take 4 American Airlines segments, you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA AA AA AA and the destination city as JFK::AA AA AA AA. This will search for a 4 segment connection in each direction on AA. You can also force connections in specific cities. So, for instance, if you wanted to connect in STL from LAX to JFK on American Airlines you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA STL AA and the destination city as JFK::AA STL AA You can find the syntax by clicking "advanced routing codes" and then clicking on the little question mark next to the routing codes box. There is also a useful discussion of how to use this tool to the fullest on Flyertalk.
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.
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.
We will process and use the data identified in this manner as long as you are registered to receive the newsletter. You can withdraw permission for the processing and use of your email address and the analysis in the context of the newsletter at any time. To do so, please click on the link indicated for this purpose in the email. The data will then be deleted.
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.
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.
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.
The FareIQ feature is unique amongst all tracking websites in that it will also track your flight after purchase and send a notification if the price drops, as you could be entitled to a refund from airlines that will refund the difference when the price drops. It pays to know the refund policy of each carrier in this case, as that could be the difference between getting a refund or not.
With a few extra functions and a smarter user interface, this combination will be the best flight tracking tool in the market. The ability to track your flights after purchase and be notified if there is a chance of a partial refund has the potential to save a lot of money and adds a layer of value the websites on the list don’t have an answer for.

Here’s where the power of ExpertFlyer comes into play. Let’s say that I wasn’t interested in crossing the Atlantic in economy. Instead of coming back to the site multiple times in the weeks and days leading up to my desired flight, I can actually set up a flight alert by clicking on the exclamation point icon (red arrow in the above screenshot). That would open up a window like this:


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.
The booking procedure on Cleartrip is quite simple. Select the date of journey, specify Journey From and Journey To details and number of people. As soon as you feed in this data, you will be able to see the list of all the available flights for that date. Accordingly, you can click the Book Now button against the flight you choose. Next, you need to make the payment and book the ticket. Soon you will get a booking confirmation on your email/mobile.The tickets you book with us are additionally governed by the terms and conditions of respective airlines. The total price displayed on the tickets is inclusive of the government charges, and there are no hidden charges.
The way you dress could be the extra push you need to get your first-class seat, the Huffington Post says. The day you’re hoping to upgrade is not the day to wear flip flops and ripped jeans. According to Bankrate, if there’s a seat open in first class, it’s most likely going to the person who’s dressed like they should be sitting there. No need to go overboard with a full suit — nice and neat will do.
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. 

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.
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.
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.
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.
×