Last month, my inbox was inundated with a news article claiming that “Just two words will get you a flight upgrade”. What were these two magical words? Apparently “revenue management”.
This writer was, in reality, talking about calling up the airline and asking whether Business Class seats were being released for miles upgrades (which you pay for with miles); the title was somewhat misleading.
The truth is that real complimentary flight upgrades hardly ever happen. Even worse, they are prioritised to those that travel in Business Class extremely regularly, which is never going to be your average leisure traveller. Yesterday I flew British Airways Club Europe Business Class. Joyously I had a free seat beside me and guess what; none of the travellers crammed into the coach seats at the back of the plane got a free upgrade to sit next to me… even though there were a number of spaces available in Business Class.
So What Works?
You can dress smart, look happy, be nice to staff, but, in my experience, these actions don’t work at all. I did see once nice girl feature in a BBC program about flights to Australia from London and she was offered a free upgrade. This was not because she dressed smart and smiled, it was because she had a BBC film crew filming her in-flight experience. The airline wanted to promote their premium product and “gave” her an upgraded seat. So this does work. You have a good chance of getting a free flight upgrade if you have a BBC film crew reporting on your in-flight experience!
To that end, you would have thought that running a massively popular travel and flight blog should guarantee an upgrade. Well, I am in that exact situation and I can tell you that I have only been offered one free flight in 5 years, so when you read about bloggers travelling about in First on extravagant round the world trips (like my friend Alex who travelled the world in First), they are doing this because they are clever with their credit card bonuses.
I travel In Business Class regularly for free, but, again, it is my airmiles that get me my free upgrades and not luck. My airmiles come from my American Express Rewards which convert directly to Avios (along with other airline miles). The FREE Amex Gold Card is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of Membership Rewards. You can apply for the US card right here. For the UK card, you will need to drop me an email for a referral link to get extra bonus points.
If you are US based, you can also fly to Hawaii or Europe and more for free by taking out this excellent (free) credit card. Read more in our easy guide.
What If I Am Happy To Pay For My Business Class Flight But Want A Discount?
If you want to book any premium flights or (luxury hotels), drop our Travel Concierge a line for free room upgrades, breakfasts, credit and more. We are almost always cheaper for Premium Economy, Business & First Class flights.
Another suggestion is to hang out for sales. I try and cover the most relevant deals on luxury travel diary in our travel news which is worth bookmarking. News channels like Flipboard are another great way to keep on top of the best deals.
Now Have My Flight, I Want A Cheap Hotel
We stay at the top hotels in the world, cheaper (I won’t say cheap as they still cost an arm and a leg), by travelling out of season or in the shoulder season. If you read my article about where is hot now, you will see that I am currently staying at the fantastic Royal Riviera, bathed in sunshine, for a fraction of the rack rate. In August a room costs around 1000€. In low season prices go as low as 190€!
Book any luxury hotel, ideally not in high season so that you can take advantage of discounted rates, via our Luxury Travel Concierge and you will also get a free room upgrade, free breakfast and free gift (free massages are the gift at this hotel). We offer similarly great benefits across all luxury hotels including the Four Seasons, Aman, Starwood Luxury Collection and more.
You could also take a look around our Luxury Travel Auction where you can pick up a bargain, with hotel stays selling for a fraction of their rack rates.
No No No, I Want My Hotel Free Too!
Its back to the credit card game I’m afriad. This time I personally use the Starwood SPG Card as I am saving for a stay at the JW Marriott in Venice. This card offers me around a 4% return on my spend, if I use my points at this hotel.
In fact, I have detailed why all frequent flyers should collect Starwood SPG Starpoints. This is because Starwood hotels are great plus SPG points transfer to 30+ airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.
The UK Starwood Amex Card offers a free bonus of 11,000 SPG points and the US Starwood Amex Card offers a huge 25,000 bonus Starpoints. Drop me an email for a referral link to each card.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.