How to get bumped up to Business Class when travelling

2018-10-10 13:59 - Marisa Crous
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(PHOTO: iStock)

Flying Business Class is good. Like, really, ridiculously good. Fully reclining as you sip on bubbles and eat restaurant-quality food in the privacy of your own pod is not too shabby.

The price tag, however, is not too favourable. 

Earlier this year Bloomberg reported on a travel hack to be upgraded when flying, claiming it is 100% full-proof. Apparently, an untapped resource many frequent flyers, particularly those with miles, don't a) know about or b) exploit. 

READ: Airlink introduces Business Class on Victoria Falls and Walvis Bay routes 

Apparently the trick is to call reservations and drop these two words, "revenue management". 

Revenue management is the department that ensure a flight is profitable – it basically tells reservation agents what to tell customers with regards to upgrades. However, very few travellers know about this department.

“Say to the agent: ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’ When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left. Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold?  Why aren’t you releasing them?’ Often by the end of the conversation they say, ‘OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow,” reported Bloomberg

This 'advice' went viral. But, many exposed this as bogus in the end, saying there are only very few ways in which one can be upgraded. 

READ: #PassengerNightmares: Business class passenger bitten 150 times by bed bugs on BA flight to Cape Town 

Book Premium Economy

The Independent notes that there is no 'magic upgrade outfit'. The best way is to collect miles, saying “Some airlines (British Airways for example) only allow you to jump one cabin, while others, such as Virgin Atlantic, will allow you to go all the way from economy to business class. Put simply: in most instances if you’d like to upgrade to business class, you’d need to book premium economy.”

Momondo also reported that buying a Premium Economy seat instead of just economy is a road paved to an upgrade.  Sure it’s more expensive, but the likelihood of being upgraded is much bigger as the classes are closer to each other in terms of cost. 

Bid your way up

Airlines like Swiss, Etihad, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay Pacific and more now make use of a system called PlusGrade, and offer customers access to upgrade auctions. The Independent says all you need to do is to login to your booking online and look for an offer to bid on an upgrade. If you struggle to find it, simply google ‘Your Airline Name Upgrade Auction’.

Who knows, maybe luck will be on your side. It won't be free, but it will be much more budget-friendly than actually buying a Business Class ticket. 

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