by Vincent I. Porter
How to get upgraded
Airline travel for most means being crammed into a narrow economy-class seat, with limited legroom and hundreds of other passengers in the same space. As airlines try to squeeze more revenue out of every seat, the prospects for economy class travel are not looking great. The airline industry is very competitive and passengers want to get to where they need to go at the lowest possible cost which comes at a sacrifice to personal comfort. For the airlines, it’s about revenue per passenger mile. But there is a more comfortable way to travel.
Some seats on many long-haul airlines can turn in to 6+-foot beds, offering travellers a place to stretch out and lots of room to work and relax. Unfortunately, these seats come at a cost. Trans-Atlantic economy fares can be had as low as $5-600 but their business class equivalents are often 3 to 4 times that cost, meaning that for the price of just one business class ticket for one person to sit in that comfy seat, a family of four could fly on the same flight. Even short-haul and domestic First and Business class seats can be vastly more comfortable than flying in the back and often come with free meals, drinks, snacks, and more attentive service from the flight attendants.
These seats can, and do, get given to economy class passengers for free, or significantly less than what the upfront cost would be. If you buy an economy class ticket, that is where you should always expect to sit because there is definitely no sure-fire way to get upgraded; but it helps to know the system and how to increase your chances of an upgrade.
In the past it was enough to dress up and be nice to the staff, and you stood a better chance of flying up front. While we still believe that it’s always good to be nice to the staff and appearance can be important (though we prefer comfort); the processes of upgrades are more automated. So what does, and what doesn’t work? We’ve put together a “Smart Traveller” guide on upgrades. Login or Register as a VIP Upgrades member to access this guide today!