The Ultimate Upgrade Guide for Air Travellers

The beginning of the 21st century has seen a change in airline policy. September 11th 2001 threatened to change the world of aviation “forever”. Of course it did not but it did hasten a move amongst all airlines to become much more hard-nosed about their commercial reality. If there has been a change it is in the much greater commercial focus of virtually every airline. Nowadays, they have to make sure they look after their best customers. Inevitably, this has a knock-on effect to the way in which they upgrade passengers.

So let’s be sensible about this. Getting an upgrade is getting something for nothing and, as we all know, nothing comes totally free. We are talking about substantial amounts of money. The difference between an Economy and a Business ticket or between a Business and a First Class ticket can be a thousand pounds or more. Which other commercial organisation can you visit and expect to be given goods worth a thousand pounds for free?

But passengers get upgraded every day – some individual passengers seem to manage it on almost every flight – and airlines accept that the upgrade is part of their commercial life. I would guess that by far the majority of long-haul flights have a number of upgraded passengers on board. Getting an upgrade is part of the game of air travel. The object of this report is to show you how to play the game.

So, as in any other game, the only way we will come out on top is to get into the mind of the other side – the airline. We need to understand why an airline might 香港 ar 公司 give an upgrade, so we can make sure we are in the right position to get it. There might be nearly 400 passengers on a Boeing 747 and only 80 or so if them in premium cabins. Clearly, not everyone can be upgraded so how do you make sure you are one of them? The answer is to plan in advance – it might not always work, but if you want to play the game you have to have a strategy.

The first thing is to understand why an airline should upgrade at all. Why do they give away expensive seats? They are not mad, but they are very commercially- driven organisations. Broadly, there are two reasons:

1. To optimise aircraft capacity and revenue

If an aircraft has 320 seats in Economy, 75 in Business and 14 in First that means it can carry a total of 409 passengers. The aim has got to be to fill as many seats as possible and get the maximum revenue. What do you do if you can sell 360 seats in Economy, 40 in Business and 8 in First? Do you actually turn away the last twenty in Economy and let the plane go with empty seats? No, of course not – you juggle the passengers around to make sure you get everyone on board and the maximum revenue. In the past, a couple of airlines have claimed they never upgrade but I am afraid I just do not believe them. If you have a full aircraft leaving Singapore for London and you have a waiting list in Business and empty seats in First do you turn away passengers who are offering to pay £1,500 per seat? Somehow, I don’t think so.

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