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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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If, once all of the cost and technical factors are reckoned, a gate agent needs to pick someone to get a primo business class seat, it just might be the person who looks the part. The kiosk still doesn’t care, but in tricky situations eventually even the computers may have to cede authority to an actual person, and making a decent impression can’t hurt.
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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.
If I had to award a ‘peoples choice’ in this category, it would go to Hipmunk. It does almost as good a job of finding and tracking information on flights as Google Flights, but delivers it inside a better design, displayed according to the ‘agony factor’ of the flight (a combination of time in the air, departure and arrival times, cost and layover), in a beautiful interface.
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.