Travel Tips

How to land free upgrades when flying?

This is a bit tricky and will not necessarily work all the time – but it does most of the times – so please take this with a grain of salt.

I travel often. How often? 5-7 destinations annually. International travel while seems cool and exciting, can be really stressful and tiring if done wrong.

Stressful? How so?

Imagine a flight from Houston, TX to Tokyo Japan – that’s almost a 15 hour journey – and sitting in coach (economy) while is cost effective, isn’t the best of experiences for anyone.

I fly economy all the time, what’s wrong in that?

80% of all air travellers travel in coach and that’s alright. It’s just that when you do a little bit extra than most of those 80% you might just get lucky and snag that business or premium economy seat you’ve been eyeing.

Sounds made-up.

It isn’t. It is entirely possible for an airline to bump you to a more luxurious seat only if certain conditions apply.

1. You hold status with the airline in question.

Status is what you achieve when you fly the same airline often in a certain amount of time and maintain that frequency. So if you fly Emirates often in a year, you can be either a bronze (entry), silver (4 – 5 times a year), gold (6-12 times a year) or platinum (very often).

A status level is awarded by the number of miles you accumulate when traveling with that airline and that depends on your flight distance as well as type of ticket booked.

2. The flight is relatively full.

This one is simple, if you have made an account with the traveling airline and have flown with them a few times, you might ask the person at the check-in stall to see if there are any vacancies in the higher tier seats.

3. If all else fails.

Be courteous and ask for an emergency exit seat. Most airlines reserve them and don’t offer them out right (place a charge on them) but if you make a request citing long journey ahead / exhaustion and how it might help, they might just give you the seat.

The leg space that you get from an emergency exit/front row seat can greatly improve the quality of your long haul flying experience.

So make the person behind you in the line jealous with your *hopefully successful* attempt at getting an upgrade. Happy flying!

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