While endless articles advise you to dress smart or pretend to be somebody in authority, there are many more effective ways to ask the upgrade question without the check in desk rolling their eyes and throwing you in the depths of the basement room as punishment for having the cheek to ask.
Here is our advice on the five best ways to score a holiday upgrade.
Booking early is especially advised if you are planning a cruise holiday and want to be first on the list when free upgrades become available.
P&O Cruises offer Select Pricing for customers booking well in advance and this fare in particular will put you front of the line when cabin upgrades come up. You will also benefit from incentives such as free parking at the airport and an often-heftyamount of free on board spending money too, so you will reap the rewards even if an upgrade doesn’t pop up along the way.
No joy on the upgrade front? Invest in a week-long pass for the ship’s spa and outdoor retreat area, where you will receive something akin to the butler service enjoyed by those in the ship’s best cabins, along with the best views whenever you are relaxing in the retreat.
Travelling during peak time brings the business crowds, so you will face stiffer competition from people who regularly fly for work and fewer upgraded seats are likely to be available. Travelling during bank holidays, later in the morning or midweek can be one of the best ways to find yourself on a flight with spare seats and generous check in staff. As an added bonus, flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday are often the cheapest too!
When it comes to hotels, checking in late is often the best way to score a room upgrade. By timing your arrival early evening, when most others have arrived during the afternoon, you will check-in with staff who know exactly what rooms are left for the day and who may just decide to give you the best of the lot if it is going to sit empty anyway. Arriving early means that check-in staff aren’t yet sure of occupancy levels because of late bookings, and so are less likely to chance upgrading you to the better rooms available in case they are booked throughout the day at full price.
There is little doubt that demonstrating your loyalty to an airline or hotel is the easiest way to make sure you are first in line for an upgrade.
When spare seats and better hotel rooms become available, many providers will look to those enrolled on loyalty and frequent flier schemes to fill the spot. Enrol in reward schemes even if you don’t anticipate using the hotel or airline again in the near future and stay loyal to airlines where possible to rack up the air miles and put yourself top of the holiday upgrade list.
Shout Out Special Occasions
Getting desperate? The age-old trick of making it known that you’re heading on your honeymoon or just got married in Vegas is one that check-in staff have wised up to over the years. That said, there is always the chance of dropping on an exceptionally romantic desk assistant or the stars aligning perfectly for you to go from ‘it’ll do street view’ to ‘wow suite’ with nothing but a flash of your wedding certificate and an over the top PDA with your new beloved.
…or pay. If you are absolutely set on trying to score a free upgrade, put on your best smile and just ask. You will need to think small, asking if it is possible to upgrade to a room with an amazing view because it is your first time in the city perhaps. The chances of receiving an upgrade from Economy to First on your long haul flight are slim to say the least, but if you’re prepared to shell out a little extra cash an upgrade to Premium Economy might not be too far out of reach.
Ask the question if your flight seems to be a quieter one and make it clear that you are happy to pay and aren’t just after a cheeky freebie.
Michael Wilson is the Managing Director of Bolsover Cruise Club, when not working at The Cruise Centre in Derbyshire; Michael enjoys spending time with his family and also in his garden.
Image by James Wheeler under cc license