Since many employers now pinch pennies when it comes to company travel, getting a last-minute bump up from a cramped economy seat to luxurious first class can make all the difference on a business trip.
How can you score a better flight, car, or hotel room? We reached out to a few travel experts for their tips on the easiest ways you can get travel upgrades on the fly. Here’s what they said:
Get upgrades on flights by booking an economy ticket with a Y or B booking code. According to TravelNerd.com‘s Amy Lee, this special booking code is gold for fliers looking for an upgrade. “This means that the ticket will be full fare, but you will receive a complimentary upgrade if there are open spots in the next class of service,” Lee said. Just request the upgrade when you book your ticket, and then check your status 24 hours before your flight. Frequent flyers should hear about upgrades within 100 hours of their departure (based on status level).
Give up your seat on a flight, and kill them with kindness. When it comes to scoring upgrades, good manners could give you an edge over other grumpy flyers. “Once I volunteered to get bumped from a flight so a family could travel together,” Lee said. “Not only did I receive a $US500 flight voucher, but the gate agent upgraded me on the next flight. She did this because no one else would give up their seat, and she realised that although I was inconvenienced, I was willing to help the travelling family.”
Dress nicely to give yourself an edge. “When flights are oversold [in economy class], sometimes gate agents will pick people to upgrade based on whether they’re dressed well, or if they were nice to someone when they checked in,” said George Hobica, founder of discount airfare site Airfarewatchdog.com. Get ahead of the game by kindly telling the gate agent in advance that you hope they’ll consider you if any upgrades are available. “They’d much rather sell you an upgrade for $US100 or $US200 rather than give it away to a frequent flier,” he said.
Rent a car at the end of the day. “By the end of the day, all the standard and compact vehicles have been rented out, and you are more likely to receive a complimentary upgrade,” Lee said.
Ask for hotel upgrades when the front desk isn’t busy. Front desk clerks are known to be willing to upgrade customers when business is slow, but you’re best bet is to ask them when there aren’t a load of other people around. “I just did this,” Hobica said. “I had been booked in a room near the elevator. I told them I was a light sleeper and asked for a room at the end of the hallway. The nice person behind the desk upgraded me to a better room at no charge.” Hobica typically follows this script: “I know the hotel is not full today. Do you think you could upgrade me to a suite?”
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