The best deals to international destinations are often short lived, so alerts can get you in on the action. FirstClassFlyer.com has a monthly newsletter and curated fare alerts for paying subscribers. The Twitter feed of TheFlightDeal has nothing but low fare alerts, though most are for coach fares. And, if you want to do it yourself, the "Premium Fare Deals" forum on FlyerTalk is often the first source of some great offers.
The fares are subject to seat availability in the corresponding booking inventory. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights and dates. The fares are non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and non-transferable. The fares and their governing rules are subject to change without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply. Airline-imposed baggage fees are not included and may apply.
All those people collecting points are not part of some fringe movement of travel lunatics. Other than paying for it, points are the only sure fire way of getting an upgrade, and booking it long enough in advance that you can get excited for your trip for months. Here’s a list of airlines that let you upgrade international plane tickets, and how many points you’ll need. It’s super important to remember that earning points doesn’t require travel. You can earn points from your daily latte spend, amongst many other things. When it comes to using them…
Airline employees and their relatives and friends get so-called buddy passes that allow traveling for reduced rate or free. So if you’re linked to someone working for an air company, this is your chance to get cheap first class airline tickets! Yet keep in mind most airlines charge certain fees for trips of such kind. Moreover, those passes are only handy when premium class flights are underbooked as buddies usually have the lowest priority in the standby list.
Not such a long time ago — and a very good time it was, some say — a “surprise” upgrade wasn’t the rare thing it is today. In fact, if you traveled enough, it was almost just a matter of time before a check-in or gate agent, or even a flight attendant, slipped you a boarding pass with a very low row number — a golden ticket of sorts for many travelers.

Certainly it wasn’t all chance that brought first-class upgrades floating one’s way, and a heavy battery of hard and soft tactics arose to increase your chances. Dress neatly, speak politely, fly the same airline regularly, inquire when offering your frequent flier number to the telephone booking person, stand a little taller at check-in if you can (for the tall-person sympathy upgrade), volunteer to give up your economy seat so a family might sit together, volunteer to be bumped on an overbooked flight.
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