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  • Dealing With Upgrades

    Who doesn’t love the flight upgrade? There are bigger seats, better services and tastier meals to enjoy. The flight attendant learns your name, you sleep better and arrive more refreshed. Flight upgrades are that extra little perk you can enjoy as a reward for those hard-earned frequently flyer points you saved, while sometimes it comes from having done very little as you’re simply in the right place at the right time!

    So how is it done? Well there are a number of ways to get upgrades, although the most common is to use your frequent flyer points.

    Ask nicely
    Well it doesn’t hurt and it might save your FF points and extra dollars. It definitely helps if you have a frequent flyer status with the airline. Flights can be overbooked, fellow passengers annoying or there could be a problem with your seat. While these cases are rare, if they are genuine flight attendants might move you.

    Use your connections and status
    If you’re an airline employee, a travel agent or travel writer you might be able to pull some strings. Or you might like to drop you’re flying for a special occasion like a wedding or honeymoon.

    And if you’re at the top of the member pecking order, that is a Gold or Platinum member of an airline, this will help with your requests too.

    Check in early or get in early
    If you’re first in the queue this can help whether you’re making the request on the Internet, by phone, through an agent or at the airport itself. Priority is given both according to your frequent flyer status and the time you requested the upgrade within your status band. Although bronze level members of Qantas have received upgrades to business class on trans Pacific routes! You will have more luck of receiving upgrades outside of peak travel times.

    Visit frequent flyer forums
    The people on the Australian Frequent Flyer Online Community have travelled a lot and may share with you some of the tricks they employ to upgrade. Check the forums for answers or post your own question.

    Book a ticket you can upgrade
    Tickets that are on sale like the Qantas Red e-Deals may not be available for upgrade, it can depend on the destination you are going to and the ticket class. If you plan to make an upgrade make sure you can do so before purchasing.

    Use your FF points
    Frequent flyers can use their points to upgrade as long as allocated seats are available. In some cases you can purchase the points to ensure the upgrade. Each airline has specifics about the how and when of upgrading and you may need to determine if it’s worthwhile on a case-by-case basis.

    If you can, make the upgrade on long flights when you can enjoy the benefits of more comfortable seats, legroom and wonderful services that last just that much longer. The higher your status as a flier will also help you confirm an upgrade in the days before a flight.

    Flight upgrades are available on eligible domestic and international flights on a variety of classes. You can upgrade Qantas or Jetstar domestic flights but not in E, N, O, P, Q or X class (includes some Red e-Deal fares). You can request the upgrade 24 hours to 355 days in advance. If you cancel the upgrade request more than 24 hours before flying you will be refunded the points, although there could be a fee.

    On international flights the request must be from 90 days to 24 hours before departure. You can cancel the request without forfeiting your points. All flight upgrades are subject to capacity controls and availability. Qantas provides tables on its website with the points needed for various sector upgrades and how ticket classes can be upgraded.

    Unfortunately Velocity Points can only be used to pay for your flight fare and not for purchasing an upgrade. However flights booked on Flexible Fare and Corporate Plus can be upgraded to Premium Economy using Velocity Points.

    Air New Zealand
    Airpoints Dollars can be used to upgrade on Air New Zealand and some participating Star Alliance carriers. For Air New Zealand ticketed/operated flights standby and confirmed upgrades are available between Economy, Premium Economy and Business Premier.

    Upgrades may be possible on these carriers: Air China, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shanghai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United.

    Check the individual details of each airline or alliance for their upgrade rules. Just remember an upgrade refers to the actual seat and not access to first class lounges or other perks that are a common feature of a first class
    ticket. And you still get points only for the fare you originally booked, not the upgrade.
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