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So you think you deserve and Upgrade

You're not alone. I would guess that more than half the people you're going to sit with in Economy feel the same way. I can see the thoughts people have as they wait in line .... "Perhaps the agent will like me if I'm nice to her, or perhaps he'll be sympathetic that I am not feeling well" some people are incredulous in their arrogance "don't you know who I am?", or some people have told me that if you write a note and attach it to your ticket .... "Please upgrade me because I am especially deserving" the agent will give you an upgrade "because others won't hear".

So what is the reality. Well reality is different in many parts of the world. Arrogance might work in some countries especially if you are a known public figure. Being a friend of someone involved in the check-in process might help in some places as well. Slipping a $10 note to the agent also helps in countries where corruption is rife. Other than these exceptions, how do you get an upgrade in normally run airline in 99% of the cases when a person might check-in? The following list tells you how upgrades occur.

(Remember that if there are enough people paying the full fare in the next cabin up, the chances of an upgrade are nil)

  1. Use your Upgrade Coupons that you have earned or bought from the airline and call in advance, or ask at the airport to get on the upgrade list. Your position on the upgrade list depends on when you call and your standing with the airline
  2. If the flight is oversold in economy and you have purchased a full economy fare ticket, you stand a good chance of getting upgraded
  3. If you have had a really bad day with the airline, and the airline thinks you might complain, talk bad etc. or it might genuinely offer you some compensation for a really bad day in the form of an upgrade
  4. If the flight is empty -- say 6 people, the flight attendant might let you all sit up front to make his or her job easier, and to give you all something to remember
  5. If you have been bumped from a prior flight, then the airline will offer you a first or business class seat on the next flight as compensation
  6. If, for example, you have a broken leg, and for whatever other reason cannot fit in the economy seat -- other than being too large, then the airline may put you up front if space is available
  7. If you're a frequent flyer on another competitor and for some reason you end up checking in at the other airline's flight, if the other airline knows this (other than you claiming it) from reading your ticket on the other airline, they might treat you well to see if you switch allegiances in the future
  8. Finally, I used to be married to a Flight Attendant and occasionally when I was on the aircraft that she was working First Class, I would get invited behind the curtain

Most airlines have hard and fast rules to determine who gets an upgrade and who does not. These rules are generally based on one thing alone, what is the best economic decision? It's not an audition, popularity contest or a secret. I could make a lot of money if I received $1 for everyone who paid me to "learn the secret way to get an upgrade that only airline employees and frequent flyers know". But alas, there is no great secret -- much like life itself.



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