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Travel (Flight) Tips

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2931285/How-score-free-upgrade-better-seat-plane-without-having-spend-money.html

From getting an upgrade to bagging a better seat, the tricks of travelling in comfort revealed (without paying any extra)
Drawing a terrible seating location can cause plenty of stress for travellers
Best chances for an upgrade are when a flight is overbooked or nearly full
Simple tips include joining a loyalty scheme or being polite to staff
By CHRIS KITCHING FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 07:48 EST, 29 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:39 EST, 29 January 2015

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It is one of the most stressful elements of travel – where to sit to ensure a comfortable flight?
And with airlines trying to charge extra for more legroom, seemingly ever-diminishing seat sizes and the extortionate cost of upgrades, it can seem like we’re all doomed to discomfort at 35,000ft.
But there are ways to score a free upgrade or even just secure a better seat in economy without having to spend any extra money if you follow some easy insider tips from professional travellers.
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The best chances of receiving a free upgrade come when a flight is overbooked or nearly full
Reigo Eljas, trading director at lastminute.com, said: ‘Winning the upgrade lottery, where you can turn left on entering the aircraft instead of right, is sadly only a pipe dream for many and one which unfortunately very rarely comes true.
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‘Upgrade opportunities really vary from airline to airline and can be random, so your best chances will come when a flight is particularly full or over booked in the economy cabin.’
MailOnline Travel spoke to a number of travel insiders and experts to learn more about the tricks and tips to get your preferred seat or, even better, a spot in business or first class.
Airlines look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first when the economy cabin is oversold
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Airlines look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first when the economy cabin is oversold
Join a frequent flyer or loyalty scheme
For those who travel regularly for work or pleasure it pays to fly with the same airline or codeshare group and gain elite status.
When economy is oversold and there are open seats in a premium cabin, flight attendants rarely upgrade passengers at random.
They look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first, said Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights.
Loyalty members may be able to use their miles or points to ‘buy’ an upgrade, said Oonagh Shiel, travel expert at Cheapflights.co.uk.
She said: Long-haul is where the upgrade action is. Don’t invest your hard-earned points on short-haul city hops.’
Travellers should select a seat when booking and check-in early to find the best possible spot
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Travellers should select a seat when booking and check-in early to find the best possible spot
Select a seat or check-in early
Selecting a seat when you book or checking in online the moment it opens can secure the best possible spot.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket, said: ‘If a cabin is overbooked they will move people early to avoid operational issues on the day. So, where possible, check-in online as early as you can.
Some passengers check-in late, hoping unsold seats near the front of the plane become available
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Some passengers check-in late, hoping unsold seats near the front of the plane become available
Arrive late
The strategy here is to check in late – but not too late so that you miss your flight – if the online check-in doesn’t offer a desirable seat, and hope that that unsold premium economy seats or seats near the front of the plane have been made available at the last minute.
But this is a big gamble as the flight may be full or nearly full and seating options may be limited. Don’t try this with carriers which charge a fee to passengers who check-in at the airport.
On rare occasions dressing like you belong in first class can see passengers moved from economy
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On rare occasions dressing like you belong in first class can see passengers moved from economy
Dress the part
It may sound ridiculous, but dressing smart can see you move from economy to a premium seat.
George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, told MailOnline Travel that it happened to him when he was flying within the US.
He said: ‘I was in the lounge and I was very nicely dressed when I heard my name paged. I thought I was going to be bumped but instead they handed me a first-class boarding pass and I’m sure it was because I was the only person who was decently dressed.
‘I’ve talked to gate agents before and they tell me if they’re oversold on economy, “Who are we going to put in first class? Are we going to put the slob or the person who is nicely dressed?” It doesn’t hurt to dress like you belong in first class.’
Ross Matthews, Icelolly.com’s chief marketing officer, said: ‘You need to look the part, dress smart and keep your Hawaiian shirt firmly packed until you arrive.’
It never hurts to mention that you’re jetting away to celebrate a special occasion such as a honeymoon
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It never hurts to mention that you’re jetting away to celebrate a special occasion such as a honeymoon
Celebrating a milestone?
Flight attendants and gate employees have heard this one a million times (and some flyers have fibbed about it), but it never hurts to mention that you’re jetting away to celebrate a special occasion.
Reigo Eljas, trading director at lastminute.com, said: ‘Be aware that what airlines consider to be a “special occasion” doesn’t quite match up with the general public’s view.
‘For example birthdays and anniversaries might be special to us but they are not recognised as special occasions by the airlines, so telling them it’s your 37th birthday might now get you very far.
‘Honeymoons are the only special occasion you have a chance of securing an upgrade for. I have heard many upgrade stories from newlyweds who have been bumped up to business class as a congratulations.’
Former flight attendant Carolyn Paddock said cabin crew find it annoying when an upgrade is requested
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Former flight attendant Carolyn Paddock said cabin crew find it annoying when an upgrade is requested
Don’t ask for the upgrade
Carolyn Paddock, a former flight attendant who now runs her own website, carolynpaddock.com, said it’s incredibly annoying when people ask for a free upgrade, and loads of people do it.
She said: ‘You might think that if you don’t ask to be upgraded, you won’t get it. But every agent and flight attendant knows you want a complimentary upgrade—who wouldn’t?
‘Do what you can to stand out from the crowd by being friendly, well dressed, and even helpful. Asking will likely get you a “no.” Why? Because so many people request, demand, and even expect it.’
Howcast’s guide to getting a first class flight upgrade (related)

Airlines are more likely to upgrade one passenger than a couple or a family of four
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Airlines are more likely to upgrade one passenger than a couple or a family of four
Travel alone
Airlines are more likely to upgrade one passenger than a couple or a family of four, so your odds of an upgrade are higher when you fly solo.
Ms Shiel said: ‘If you’re without partner or children you’ll be easier to place. There are no seating considerations if there’s only one of you.’

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If a flight is full the airline will ‘bump’ passengers onto the next one, and there are often incentives
Be flexible
If a flight is full the airline will ‘bump’ passengers onto the next one, and there are often incentives for doing so.
Ms Shiel said: ‘This might be a lucrative move. Incentives can often include an upgrade.
‘If you can afford to do this, tell the airline staff upon check-in.’
Mr Atkinson said: ’Pre-booking meals or making pre-flight requests could hinder your chances of being upgraded, as it may be seen as too much hassle to move you.’
‘Unless you have special dietary requirement, try and be as easy to work with as possible.’
Holidaymakers will have a better chance of selecting their preferred seat if they avoid peak travel times
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Holidaymakers will have a better chance of selecting their preferred seat if they avoid peak travel times
Avoid busy times
Loella Pehrsson, regional managing director for travel website Kayak, said holidaymakers have a better shot at choosing their preferred seat if they avoid flights filled with business travellers.
She recommends people travel on bank holidays and avoid early morning or evening flights.
She said: ‘Travelling at these times will increase the likelihood of you being able to snap up a seat in business class, as peak time travellers normally snap up the first class and business class seats.’

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Newer or wider-bodied planes tend to offer more legroom and comfier seats for passengers
Pick the right plane
If you are flexible with your dates and times, try to select a flight that operates with a newer or wider-bodied plane.
They tend to offer more legroom and comfier seats for passengers.
Before flying travellers can do their research on website such as SeatGuru.com, which publishes seatmaps which highlight the best and worst seats available on each aircraft by airline, said Ms Clark.
It may seem like a long shot but being polite to airline staff can improve your chances of an upgrade
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It may seem like a long shot but being polite to airline staff can improve your chances of an upgrade
Be polite
Scoring a free upgrade for being polite may be a long shot, but at the very least it will make everyone’s day a little brighter.
Ms Paddock said agents and flight attendants deal with hundreds of grumpy, rude and stressed travellers every day.
She said: ‘Crew members have plenty of authority and should not be underestimated.
‘If you make an effort to brighten their day, chances are they’ll be much more likely to do what they can to brighten yours.
‘I know that when I was flying for a commercial airline I loved spoiling people I knew would appreciate my effort – and they were never the moaners and complainers.’
On one occasion the economy cabin was full and she was asked to choose six appropriately-dressed passengers to move to unsold seats in business class on a flight from New York to Milan.
She said: ‘I walked through the cabin and selected those who were the most polished and gracious to me upon boarding. I can promise you that if you’re wearing sweats and flip flops, you may be cosy for the flight but you’ll never get the upgrade—and you’ll never even know that you’re being passed over.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2931285/How-score-free-upgrade-better-seat-plane-without-having-spend-money.html#ixzz3QL4nmY6G
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