10 Ways to Land an Upgrade.

 

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Let’s face it, flying Business or First Class rather than coach makes a world of difference particularly on longer flights. Ditto for a rental sub compact to a luxury vehicle. And the same goes for hotel rooms. But you don’t always have to get just what you pay for. Here are few tips to increase your odds of getting bumped up on flights, rental cars and hotel rooms.

  1. Pick a Frequent flier program, but not just any one. Airlines headquartered in the city you live in will yield more fellow passengers competing for the same upgrades. So consider picking one headquartered elsewhere to increase your odds. If you live outside of San Francisco, where Virgin America is headquartered, you might start there.
  2. End of day. Check in or plan to pick up your rental car at the end of the day. When it comes to rental cars and hotel rooms, you might find yourself in luck as that luxury SUV or swanky hotel room would otherwise just sit empty.
  3. Now open for hotel reviews. New hotels are in need of lots of praise to spread the word. Casually suggesting you’re eager to help write a glowing review could yield you that coveted uber nice room with the view. Generally speaking, the bigger the hotel, the more rooms it has to upgrade.
  4. Within reason. “Just ‘cuz” may not be that compelling but if you truly have a good cause for asking, ask away. Being a loyal member of an airline, hotel or rental car club is a good one if you don’t have any other reason. If you’re traveling for a special occasion: honeymoon, anniversary, birthday or you have a medical reason, it never hurts to mention it. Nice people finish first, so certainly don’t take the demanding, cranky or entitled approach.
  5. Know people or have connections. Memberships to AARP or AAA can have clout or ask if they have other partnerships. You could find yourself pleasantly surprised.
  6. Never hurts to ask. You’d be surprised what a simple cheery, “Can you upgrade me?” can yield. More often than not, a friendly agent is looking to make someone’s day.
  7. Shoot an email or comment on social media. A quick email to the hotel’s general manager about how stoked you are about your upcoming stay could pave the way for an upgrade. Likewise, a comment on Twitter and Facebook accounts could also set the stage for a sweeter stay.
  8. A note from the Dr. If you’ve recently had a medical condition that warrants extra leg room, say, knee pain, pregnancy or any other legitimate medical reason, a note from the doctor could serve as a reason for an agent to be more generous in upgrading an airline seat, a rental car company bumping up your sub compact or a hotel giving you a room closer to the escalator.
  9. Cash in miles. Suppose you wanted to use miles for an upgrade but a seat wasn’t available at the time you booked your flight. Expert Flyer’s Flight Alert service will let you know when an award seat becomes available on a particular flight. This brilliant Seat Alert service will let you know when better seats become available in your category — an aisle, window or in a higher class.
  10. Look the part. Decades ago, everyone dressed their best when flying, suits and dresses with white gloves. These days, sweats and tennis shoes are more the norm. If you want to find yourself sitting outside of coach, dress for success. And if you’re with a child, looking well groomed and especially well mannered could be just the ticket.
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