That tropical paradise you’ve been waiting for months to visit is about to begin—bags are packed, dog sitting has been arranged, and the garage is locked. Now to corral the family through airport security and endure a cramped journey on the plane.
If you’re already in need of a shot of Dramamine, take a deep breath and keep reading. Economy tickets are the standard affordable option for most airlines, with tiers of better value lurking above. First- and business-class tickets are elusive and expensive. Without the airline’s branded credit card or other raised status, though, those perks are just an idea for many. But it is possible to find special deals—and MyDomaine was determined to sniff them out. We reached out to Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a travel agency where experts scour for the best prices on flights, whether domestic or international. He was able to provide tips on scoring a flight upgrade without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re still planning your vacation or have tickets in hand, read our best tips on how to get a flight upgrade. Your vacation should be unforgettable from the very start, so skip the typically painful transport by following this advice.
It’s pretty common for flights to be oversold. If that happens to you and airlines are desperate for volunteers, they’ll offer hundreds of dollars in travel vouchers. What’s less well known, however, is that agents are authorized to offer other perks as well, including food vouchers, lounge passes, and, yes, even seats in business or first class on your new flight. They won’t offer if you don’t ask, though.
If you’ve booked an economy seat with cash, most airlines will let you pay miles to upgrade to business class. It’s a great use of extra miles you may have lying around, especially if you don’t have other trips coming up. Rates for upgrading vary by route, airline, and fare class, typically at least 15,000 miles for domestic flights and at least 25,000 miles for international.
Check the price
Airlines make mistakes, and sometimes the price of premium economy or even business rivals that of regular economy. For example, in December 2017, Delta accidentally sold first-class tickets to Canada for the exact same price as economy, under $200 on dozens of routes. In August 2018, Hong Kong Airlines mistakenly sold business-class flights from the U.S. to all over Asia for $600 round-trip. It’s not common, but it happens.
Bid on one
Recently, some airlines have begun taking bids to upgrade in the day or two leading up to a flight when there are unsold premium seats. Whoever puts in the highest offer gets the seat. Might as well put in a lowball bid. Worst case, your bid isn’t accepted and you keep the same seat as before. Best case, your offer ends up getting accepted.
Fact: Everyone wants honeymooners to have a great time, especially people working in the travel and hospitality industry. Subtly noting that you’re on your honeymoon isn’t a guarantee you’ll get upgraded, but it’s the situation where agents are most likely to give an upgrade solely because they want you to be happy. You only have one chance (probably) at this, so take advantage.