Who doesn’t want a free upgrade? Giada De Laurentiis asked me to reveal some of my best upgrade strategies in the latest issue of Giada Weekly, a digital mag available by subscription on the Web or iOS device ($.99 an issue or $2.99 a month). I’m a fan of Giada’s, so I recommend subscribing, but for those who aren’t onboard yet, here’s a sneak peek at my secrets:
How to get a better airplane seat:
Unfortunately, airlines don’t pass out upgrades the way they used to. You usually have to pay for one or become an elite member of an airline’s loyalty program (a feat that’s increasingly difficult to achieve). But if you’re flying coach, you can still get a lot of intel from two great Web sites. Before booking your flight, use Seatguru.com to find your plane’s seat map, which lists pros and cons of each seat on the plane. If you end up stuck in the middle spot, head over to ExpertFlyer.com, which will let you know when a better seat becomes available. Best part? Even though ExpertFlyer.com is a site you have to pay for, it provides seat alerts for free.
How to get a hotel upgrade:
Even people without elite status can use certain magic words to try for upgrades at hotels. One easy tactic is simply to let your hotel know when you’re celebrating a special occasion; luxury properties will sometimes go out of their way to make your experience a memorable one. Also keep in mind that it can be easier to get an upgrade on a Sunday night because the weekend leisure travelers have all left and the business travelers haven’t arrived for the week yet.
How to use social media to get upgrades or to fix a problem:
Many airlines and hotels are on Twitter these days (and increasingly more are on Instagram too), so they are watching what people are saying about them on those platforms. If you need help, complaining directly to a travel company on Twitter can often get results—for instance, if you asked for one thing, but got something very different. For a shot at an upgrade or special perk, consider spreading excitement about your upcoming trip on Twitter or Instagram, and include the hotel’s social media handle. This can work especially well for loyalty program members; if you let the hotel know you’re coming via Twitter, they might look out for you. It’s no big secret that they want to have great publicity on those platforms.
When to use a travel agent to help you get upgrades:
Some travel-planning firms are elite preferred partners of certain hotel brands, and in those cases, they get reduced rates or added-value benefits such as free upgrades, free breakfast, late check-out, resort credits, and other VIP perks. That’s one reason why finding the right travel agent can really make a trip special. So how do you find that all-star travel agent? Ask me! A lot of readers have already reached out to me for direction, and I’m publishing answers to their questions right here on WendyPerrin.com. If you don’t see your particular need addressed, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again to Giada and her team for inviting me to be a part of The Easy Upgrades Issue. You can follow her @GiadaWeekly, and, of course, stay tuned here and on my own Twitter and Facebook feeds for more secrets to smart travel.
What’s your best tip for getting an upgrade?