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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to get free flight upgrades

Free frequent flyer miles
Overbooked flights are a basis for free upgrade
Several methods assist with obtaining flight upgrades; some of these methods are straightforward, some are more esoteric and others are creative. For example, according to Benji Lanyado of the U.K. Guardian, obtaining a “suitable for upgrade” stamp on a boarding pass can be achieved using a formula involving rendezvousing with key airline staff, optimal use of personal information, and doctor's notes. It is expressed as sfu=(pnr+whsr/osi+dvt), not including the exponent. However, that is one of the more complicated methods of upgrading flights for free.


When airlines over-book flights and everyone in coach class shows up, passengers sometimes get upgraded if seats are available in other sections of the plane. Showing up late for a flight increases the chance of a flight's coach seats being filled up and being awarded a free upgrade. Alternatively, Cheap Flights recommends the opposite, arriving early for an overbooked morning flight, then asking nicely for an upgrade when flight agents are less busy.


A creative solution to obtaining free flight upgrades is posed by Advanced Riskology. Moreover, Advanced Riskology suggests using frequent flyer credit cards that allow cash equivalent purchases to buy coins from the U.S. Mint. These coins increase fee miles on the card that is paid off upon receipt of the coins because they can be deposited into a bank account. Moreover, as long as purchase terms are followed and the card balance is paid off during the grace period, then the miles are free.


Another traditional method for obtaining flight upgrades is to redeem airline miles. For infrequent travelers who are not going to accumulate enough miles for a free ticket, this is an option to pursue before miles expire. Frequent flier programs vary however, and not all of them have miles that expire. The amount of miles required to upgrade to business or first class also varies and may not be as satisfying or rewarding for a 30 minute flight. Miles can be obtained via use of some credit cards, travel, car rentals and targeted shopping.


Timing of ticket purchases can also indirectly add up to the same amount as an upgraded flight. For example, tickets bought several months in advance often cost less than closer to the travel time. Using this logic, a more luxurious seat purchased well ahead of travel would cost closer to the amount of a coach class seat bought a day before travel. Flight timing is also a factor according to Listverse, which recommends booking flights outside of business hours because that's when the business section is less likely to be full.


Departure locations are also an interesting method for increasing chances of an upgrade per Safe Travel. This is because hubs, or airports that serve as home bases for specific airlines, are  more likely to have frequent flyers. These frequent flyers will often have a priority for seat upgrades, or at least increase the demand for such, making it more difficult to obtain one. In light of this, booking flights on airlines out of non-hub airports increase the chance of a free flight upgrade.

Image license: US-PD