Even for experienced travelers, the actual act of traveling can be a grind—long days away from home, unfamiliar places and lots of stress. However, one thing that can brighten your day is the elusive upgrade. There’s nothing like stretching out in a larger, first class seat and being handed a hot towel and a free drink to put a smile on your face. Once you get to your destination, your day is brightened when you find out that your cozy room has been upgraded to a spacious suite. Here are seven tips for getting an upgrade when traveling:
If you show your loyalty, you’re more likely to score a better seat or a nicer room. Join an airline and hotel loyalty program and consolidate your business with them. With some travel loyalty programs, the perks are automatic. In others, you’ll need to request the upgrade. Companies are more likely to reward their best customers, so the more business you give them, the better your chances.
Be Early, or Late
Your timing can have a huge impact on whether you get the upgrade. For flights, the earlier you check in, the higher your relative placement on the upgrade list. Also, if you have a special situation, airline ticket counter staff can spend more time with you. However, for hotels, the opposite is true—the later you check in, the better your chances for an upgrade. Hotels don’t want to give out choice rooms too soon so you increase your chances if you check in late.
Be the Outlier
If you travel during off-peak times, the upgrade could be yours. On vacation, consider staying at business hotels on the weekends when their demand is lower. You just might find yourself in a suite. The other option is to go completely in off-peak season. When overall demand is down, your chances for an upgrade go up.
Even if you have status in a loyalty program and are traveling off-peak, the amount you pay can make a difference. Discount fares or special rates obtained through discount websites are unlikely to score you an upgrade. If you pay full fare or regular rates, you increase your chance of getting an upgrade. You can also increase your chance of an upgrade by buying directly from the airline or hotel’s website.
Commenting on social media may increase the likelihood of some preferential treatment. Tweeting, “So excited for my trip to the King’s Hotel in Timbuktu next week,” just may get you an upgrade. Even if you don’t get a full upgrade, you could find yourself with a welcome gift in your room.
You catch more flies with honey. If you really want an upgrade, try being really friendly and courteous. Airline and hotel desk staff deal with difficult people all day long. Flashing a smile and asking how their day is going could make you be the bright spot in their day. And they just may reward you for that.
There’s no harm in asking for the upgrade. If you have already done some of the above, asking for the upgrade may be thing that puts you over the edge.
One thing to keep in mind: upgrades are subject to the law of scarcity. Everyone wants an upgrade, but not everyone can get one. If you don’t get one the first time, keep trying. Eventually, the odds will be in your favor.