A reader asked for some general advice in securing upgrades on international flights. Here are my off the top of the head suggestions. I’d love it if you’d add your own thoughts to the comments section.
- Be as flexible as possible. Look over a variety of
days if you can. Confirmed seats at booking are the
- Be as creative as possible in routings. Check every
possible connection. Know what those connections are
because agents won’t necessarily look at them all
without your asking about them specifically.
- Consolidate your flying a bit so that you have top
tier status on a carrier. I like having miles on lots
of airlines… but having the highest level elite
status will help you clear those waitlists. (You can
earn miles on lots of airlines by giving your partner
activity like phone, credit cards, etc. to an airline
that you don’t fly as much.)
- Pick your aircraft to be sure it has the most number
of business class seats possible. A United 747 has
about a hundred premium seats. A 777 has 49 business
class seats. That makes upgrading easier than on a
767 with only 32 seats or a 757 with 24.
- Run away from Continental. They have the most
convoluted upgrade scheme going… upgrade windows…
the “72 hour rule” (they won’t give you the seat even
if it’s available if it’s within 72 hours of flight
time). Just screwy.