What’s ensued is a golden age of flying … for those who can afford it. In November, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates Airline both unveiled all-new first-class suites, tricked-out with such extravagant amenities as in-suite minibars and Mercedes Benz-inspired interiors. A round-trip ticket from Dubai to Geneva in Emirates’ new suites can cost upward of $8,000—and that’s on the affordable end of the spectrum. These airlines aren’t alone: Quieter, gradual enhancements on such airlines as Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Société Air France SA have resulted in truly premium experiences, with improvements ranging from more personal storage space to latest-generation entertainment screens and touchscreen seat controls.
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Have high hopes of an upgrade? Unless you’re part of that airline’s loyalty program, odds are not in your favour. Although it’s not strictly necessary to be in an airline’s Frequent Flyer program, you’ve got a much better chance of having those three magical letters: SFU (Suitable For Upgrade) beside your name if you’re a regular card-carrying passenger. The best thing you can do to maximize the benefits of a frequent flyer program is to choose one program and use it exclusively. Benefits continue to increase the more you travel and, in addition to earning points, regular travellers can attain a higher ‘status’. This can come with added benefits such as lounge access, upgrade credits, and priority service levels.
Why you want to fly it: Most airlines are just playing catch-up to Etihad Airways, which debuted its stunning suites and three-room Residence back in 2014. What makes these suites so special? Access to some of the world’s best lounges, on-demand dining (thanks to a dedicated, on-board chef), private minibars, and even in-flight showers. As with Singapore’s suites, these also have Poltrona Frau reclining chairs and separate twin beds. You’ll find all this aboard Etihad’s A380s on routes to London Heathrow, New York JFK, Sydney, and Paris.
Sometimes, it’s pretty enough for getting an upgrade. Just ask the frontline employees of your airline if there’s any possibility to upgrade to first class. Of course, this requires certain preparation: you should look ultimately good and know how to speak to people to make them willing to assist you (keep reading this article and find more details below).
And if you’re nice to the agent at the check-in, it paves the road for an inquiry. As the adage goes, it never hurts to ask; a polite request for an upgrade if there’s a seat available, may actually result in a one-way trip to business class. Especially if you have a compelling reason, like you’re super tall, pregnant or celebrating a milestone event.
The way you look should tell anybody that you’re eligible for traveling first class. So manage to dress sharp and groom yourself properly. Since most people aren’t really concerned about how they look during long trips, a classy dressed traveler instantly draws the attention of people responsible for premium class sales. Wear business casual, act your best, and see the effect!
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We have never bought an upper-class seat; if ever we’ve flown anywhere up front, we’ve used miles to upgrade from economy. If you want to do that, call reservations and drop the name “revenue management.” The reason is that revenue management’s job is to make sure a flight is profitable, so they’re the ones telling [reservation agents] what they can say; they’re like Flying Club’s boss. Not everyone knows that this department exists, and by mentioning it you reveal yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how seats are released. Say to the agent: ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’ When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left. Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold? Why aren’t you releasing them?’ Often by the end of the conversation they say, ‘OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow. Doing that, we’ve had a pretty much 100 percent success rate.
As the airlines have cut the number of seats they sell and make it harder for everyone but their very best customers to get upgrades to premium cabins, it's a lot harder to make the leap -- but not completely impossible. It can happen with a mix of luck, frequent flyer status, higher-priced tickets that are easier to upgrade, or a need to accommodate other passengers. Any of these factors can change on any given day or even a flight. So below are 10 tips that may help boost your odds of getting into the premium economy, business, or first class.
Philippine Airlines – Dedicated first class or the "Maharlika Class" cabins was withdrawn in mid- 2000's. During the second half of 2006, PAL announced a cabin reconfiguration project for its Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft. The airline spent US$85.7 million to remove all first class seats and increase the size of its business and economy seats, leading to the aforementioned new seats; as well as add personal screens with audio and video on-demand (AVOD) across both cabin classes.