The Ultimate Guide to getting UPgraded

UPgrade:

– a term most commonly used in the mobile contract industry, governed by rules and regulations pending term completion requirements never mind all the English jargon let’s just get to the nitty gritty!

There are a few basic pointers to begin with:

1) Be polite

– always always be polite, smile no matter how long day you’ve had and always enquire how the staff member assisting you is, use their name on their pinned uniform if possible.

Never be rude or pushy.

2) Confidence

– be professional and specific.

3) Insight

– have a idea exactly what’s available to be upgraded to from online / app / transfer desk.

4) Hang up

– If you dialling in and its not going your way politely hang up and redial. You’ll be amazed 2 or 3 calls later via a different agent what you can get done.

5) Leverage

– elite status is of utmost importance. This outweighs trying luck of ‘it’s my honeymoon / anniversary / 1st time ‘ by a mile.

6) Entitled

– remember you are not more entitled to something free that others will pay top dollar for.

Options for UPgrades:

AIRLINES.

skyteam platinum

Enquire what the seat availability is like on check in, if it’s overbooked find out how many Gold / Platinum members there are in the class. If it’s low, you have a high chance of being upgraded, ask the agent to make a note of the possible upgrade on your ticket.

Check this in the lounge closer to boarding time, sometimes the lounge agent will issue you with a new upgraded boarding pass.

Other times the gate agent will scribble on your boarding pass upon the boarding call.

Coded for upgrade.

Coded for upgrade.

Buying the higher economy fare tickets also enables you a higher chance of being bumped up pending over booking.

Often before taxi, the airlines cabin crew will come on the intercom and request passenger so and so to make themselves known, it’s usually no more than 3 or 4. This is bump up time. Your airline loyalty status or higher fare class puts you in the front of this que.

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Nowadays the higher economy fare classes are the only ones eligible for upgrades utilising miles. Enquire from the airline as this differs from carrier to carrier.

Certain elite statuses in the airlines loyalty programmes come with set complimentary upgrades for the year. This is what I’m holding below from Star Alliance and Skyteam:

All these bonuses are yours.

4x seat upgrades and 2x 50% discount on tickets.

4x upgrades

4x upgrades as a Skyteam Platinum member.

Recently airlines will email you a few days before your flight to input a bid offer for the upgrade. Some airlines have a minimum amount, others you can take a chance. If successful your credit card will automatically be debited for the stipulated bid amount.

To bid or not to bid ?

To bid or not to bid ?

In some airlines the tax amount remains the same between all classes and often the mileage amount is not much different between 2-3 classes when pursuing a reward ticket, this is the best way of guaranteeing a lie flat.

Also with reward tickets you could try switching the country of booking, sometimes flying back home will have low taxes and no fuel surcharges.

saa vg1

Business class two legs for ZAR450 utilising reward ticket / miles.

HOTELS.

The only hotel chain to guarantee a suite upgrade on booking is Hyatt via their diamond upgrade suite certificates( you get 4x per year at 7nights each) exclusively for diamond members. Read on this  HERE and HERE.

8 seating's in the dining room

Hyatt Presidential Suite upgrade via confirmed suite certificate.

To increase your chances never book via a 3rd party agent, always book direct with the hotel. Hotels pay big commissions to 3rd party agents and booking via these channels will make you seem less loyal. Hotels even offer BRG ( best rate guarantee) if their rates are not the lowest.

You are more likely to get a bigger upgrade for a shorter stay. Business economic reasons are obvious.

Upon booking, type in the special requests, go big ask for the presidential / diplomatic / royal and other requests you may have like extra bed, a specific view etc.

Special comments is your time to shine, go big.

Special comments is your time to shine, go big.

After booking reach out to the hotel, try get the managers details from the website or google. The best is to call, you can do this toll free using a landline (we have the toll free numbers in our hotel link tab) and ask to be connected to the hotel via the international call centres ( take note not all call centres have this ability so you will have test it a few times a day, South African local 1pm time I have the most luck in connections).

Upon getting a hold of the hotel, ask for the manager on duty’s name and email address before asking to speak to him / her.

Mention to the manager you calling all the way from South Africa ( or your country) and as a gold / platinum / diamond elite member of the hotel chain you hope your stay will be memorable and ask for the dragons den (this is leverage).

Confirmation from the manager.

Confirmation from the manager.

Upgrade noted on booking and confirmed.

Upgrade noted on booking and confirmed.

Remember it’s always subject to availability, so you can increase you chances not arriving on a weekend or during low season. Managers can provide the upgrade instantly as shown in most chains.

Confirmation from the manager.

Confirmation from the manager.

Upgrade confirmed.

Upgrade confirmed.

Other chains will email you asking your requests and some will even designate a personal concierge manager to take care of your needs and agenda’s.

My highest value upgrade at the Waldorf Dubai worth R32,000 per night had a kitchen, dining room, lounge, wet bar and 18 meter balcony.

My highest value upgrade at the Waldorf Dubai worth R32,000 per night had a kitchen, dining room, lounge, wet bar and 18 meter balcony.

After booking, hotels will try and sell you an upgrade for a reduced amount. If it’s in your budget and makes sense, go for it. Be aware as this will be per night charge. Personally I do not do this unless the upgrade shows $0 to confirm a suite I have my eye on.

In Vietnam I got $0 for the online upgrade post booking.

In Vietnam I got $0 for the online upgrade post booking.

Another new feature is ‘online check in’. You can check in via your mobile app and select your upgrade. This is usually a one tier upgrade and you still have to swing by the reception with you ID and collect your room card key. I do not partake in this because I usually like to enquire about a better upgrade available from checking availability of suites on the app (this is insight) and meet the manager who in turn could upgrade further.

You can choose your room on your mobile app.

You can choose your room on your mobile app.

If you have a large family / entourage you could enquire if your 2 room booking can be merged into an upgrade of one of the premium bigger suites on check in.

DSC00135

My backyard of a upgraded overwater 3 bedroom suite in Maldives. The biggest pad on the island.

In Vegas it’s common to slip a 20$ and that will do the trick for an upgrade.

The room inside Bellagio.

The Bellagio, Las Vegas.

Another way of bettering an upgrade is enquire what the room is like for gold elite members and then after mention you on diamond or platinum and take the card out. This works amazingly well.

Using my elite status I have probably been upgraded 139 out of 140 times ( the only time I was refused was in Istanbul due to my own booking mistake, I arrived 2am and booked the room for the date of arrival not the date of the night before, hotel systems work from 7am, jetlagged I opted not to wait until the ‘next day’ for a suite to become available ).

DSC00812

My only non-upgrade.

CAR RENTAL.

Here again, leverage elite status. Certain hotel chains come affiliated with a car rental status. We get this done as well.

Instant Five Star Rewards membership can be yours.

It’s possible to book the standard manual hatchback and get the automatic sedan, a 2tier upgrade. Here again it’s subject to availability.

Electronic speedometer and LCD radio display.

I’ve called in as well to speak to managers at the rental locations and requested SUV’s and 4×4’s for surfing missions, some have recommended that I book a Corolla sedan to get the higher upgrade while at times I have also scored luxury Audi A3 sedans.

Read more HERE.

Save and share this post as just about every person who undertakes a journey would love being upgraded, Traveloyalty can get you the tools needed for all the above. How I know this works? simply, as proven because I’m doing it all myself.

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