How to boost your chances of upgrading your plane seat, hotel room, or rental car
Jul 6, 2012, 8:21 a.m.
Believe it or not, getting a better plane seat, hotel room, or rental car without paying more is as easy as asking for it. Of course, there are no guarantees that you'll be successful -- but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here are a few tips that show you how to upgrade reservation tickets for free. The next time you're on vacation, consider giving them a try. After all, what's the worst than can happen?
Dress the part -- Let's face it, you're not going to get bumped up to first class on a flight or be given a swanky hotel room or rental car if you show up looking like you just slept under an overpass. If you want to be treated to first class services, your odds will be vastly improved if you look the part.
Ask politely -- There's an old saying that says something about the squeaky wheel getting oiled first, but if you're asking for an airline or a rental company to give you something for absolutely free, it's not going to happen if you scream and shout. Quite the contrary, the more polite you are about it, the more likely you'll find success at getting a better seat, room, or rental car. As a rule, always get there early. You won't be the only person asking to be put on the upgrade list, so improve your chances by ensuring you're at the top of that list by being the first to ask.
Get a club card -- The majority of airlines, car rental companies, and hotel chains will consider their loyal customers first for upgrades before moving down the list to casual visitors. Even if you don't make use of it, it's a smart idea to sign up for whatever rewards programs are offered by the companies you intend to use. This way, you're easily identified as a loyal customer.
Travel the busy season -- This method works best when getting a better seat on a plane or getting an upgrade to a better rental car, but doesn't work so well for upgrading to a higher quality hotel room. This is because hotels will be far more capable of accommodating your request if they've got plenty of extra rooms on hand. When it comes to flying and renting a car, however, the busier it is, the better your chances. Many airlines overbook flights and frequently end up bumping economy-class flyers to first class to make room for everyone. Car rental companies with a limited supply of cars due to a seasonal rush will also be a lot more willing to upgrade you for free.
If you are lucky enough to find success at upgrading your reservation for free, be gracious about it and pay the airline, hotel, or car rental company the respect they deserve by thanking them officially. This can come in the form of a letter or email to customer service thanking them for a wonderful experience. You can also get online and visit the company's website and share your experience with others by posting a testimonial in a feedback forum, or by posting it directly to the company's Facebook wall. You never know... you may even get a return "thank you" from them in the form of a coupon for use on your next vacation.
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