Free Upgrades - An Update

Discussion in 'Websites, Software & Hardware' started by brisbull, Oct 6, 2005.

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  1. brisbull

    brisbull Intern

    Jun 27, 2005
    Hey Guys

    Back from my round the world trip, which was great and all, but just had to add this update to the forum.

    Before we flew, my partner and I checked this forum extensively for hints on how to get free upgrades on flights . All forumites said that upgrades are very very rare, and even then they only go to status people i.e. out of the realm of reality for most of us bronzie folk.

    My partner was a Bronze with only about 120 Status Credits, although they had just joined Qantas Club a month before the trip so we could both have lounge access on most of our flights, and I was a bronze who had never flow with Qantas. Our view of upgrades was grim.

    On our first flight of the trip, which was a QF from Brisbane to Los Angeles direct, we checked into our economy, went to the QC lounge and had a few beers before departure. We checked at the desk for other seats in economy to try and get a better spot with a spare seat between us, but were told it was a busy flight, and it wasn't an option.

    At the gate, we got an upgrade to business. So sweet. Made the trip so good. We though it was a fluke.

    However, after a Cathay flight from rome to Hong Kong, with a short wait for another Cathay connecting to Denpasar (before the latest attack, thank god..), we got upgraded to business again at the arrival gate in Hongkong... which also gave us access to the lounge during the 4 hours wait (lucky, because QC would not have covered that flight!).

    Well, by now we thought all our luck was used up. But on the final leg, from Darwin to Brisbane, we were sitting in the QC lounge in Darwin, and agreed to use some of the points we had earned on the trip for an upgrade. The attendent said that it was still too early, but she would see what would come available. An hour later we were paged, and she presented us with new business boarding passes, with the comment "You have just travelled so far, I couldn't bear to take those hard earned points off you". Another free upgrade.

    So, all in all, 3 free upgrades in a total of 14 flights, two with Qantas and one with Cathay.

    So the upgrades arent uncommon for the common, despite what people say. All in all, just be VERY polite, smile heaps, and you can get those freebies.


  2. QF WP


    Jun 20, 2002
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    brisbull, checked back and found your thread: Status Credit - date reset

    After re-reading it, then you and your SO were very fortunate. Being friendly to the CSA's and FA's certainly helped. You would have been in a dream in J from BNE/LAX - a great flight to really make full use of the benefits.

    Excellent to hear you enjoyed it so you've got the bug, start planning your next trip :D
  3. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    Hi brisbull,

    Great to hear about your recent upgrade success :D . Your comment about manners is very apt; after all, it costs nothing and ...

    I know the general consensus is that frequent flyers are rewarded first, though perhaps the opposite is true? After all, if one was a drug dealer, would you give the samples to a "junkie" or someone experimenting :?:
  4. brisbull

    brisbull Intern

    Jun 27, 2005
    ... ok.... Drugs are bad, m'kay

    You shouldn't do drugs.

    'Cause they're bad.



  5. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sorry, heh :?:
  6. NM


    Aug 27, 2004
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    My parents had a similar experience on their first ever QF flight after joining up. They we upgraded on BNE-SIN on their way to London. So I wonder if there is some sort of "Welcome to the club :wink: " gift that is sometimes offered?

    Congratulations on scoring those elusive upgrades. And that for reporting back with your experience. Now its time for the full trip report :D .
  7. serfty


    Nov 16, 2004
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    I guess flying in J can get addictive, one might start finding ways to pay for it....
  8. anahabana

    anahabana Newbie

    Oct 3, 2005
    oh Brisbull!! When I think of how many miles (how many uncomfortable flights, cold flights, etc etc) I have flown internationally IN ECONOMY to maintain my gold status EVERY YEAR for the last 4 years with Qantas, and the only upgrade I have received was between Brisbane and Cairns. (that is a lot of miles in economy every year!!!)

    I read about your trip and the green eyed monster was looking your way!

    Good luck to you!
  9. HardieBoys

    HardieBoys Member

    Sep 28, 2003
    I did a RTW mid-year, and was very lucky with upgrades, getting upgraded from J to F in 3 out of a possible 4 long-haul flights: Sydney-HK, HK-Rome and London-NY. Didn't ask to be upgraded, and was pleasantly surprised at the gate. Always dressed pretty casually to check in (jeans and t-shirt), so appearance had little to do with it. Also got upgraded from Singapore to Sydney last week, on a very cheap economy ticket (in which points upgrades were not permitted), so was pleased again.
  10. kevinwong

    kevinwong Newbie

    Jan 3, 2006
    OK so i have a question - how exactly are upgrades offeredand what's the process of getting your new seat allocation?

    Does the computer just randomly pick someone? Or does the nice person at the gate do the picking and how do they know that there are seats available because I already have my seat allocated from the checkin counter?

    I haven't actually ever seen someone been offered an upgrade so I'm curious as to the process. Thanks for any insights.
  11. oz_mark

    oz_mark Enthusiast

    Jun 30, 2002
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    On QF, mine have always been given to me at check-in, and I think it was determined before I even got there. TG once upgraded me the aircraft (due to trim reasons - not sure if there was a comment about my weight in how they chose me to move :) )
  12. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    Depends on why they are giving you the upgrade.

    If you have a nice friend on the gate, then it's possible they can upgrade you if the situation arises. Same with an onboard friend who upgrades you unofficially (ie, just the seat, not a new boarding pass). This is frowned on within the company I believe... and can get a staffer fired.

    Most of my op-ups have been previously determined before I checked in. Comments like "The company has decided to give you an upgrade today" and "You've been upgraded" or just no comment at all tend to imply that the decision was out of the staffer's hands and the computer told them to upgrade.

    Sometimes something will happen that causes upgrade opportunities. A large family needing to sit together, too many people checking into the flight, a faulty seat on the plane or a faulty plane or bad weather etc means that Qantas has to decide whether to upgrade people. At this point the gate agent (I believe) looks through the manifest and works out who to upgrade. It often is a Plat/CL members, but if you are sitting in the right seat it could be you who is upgraded. These upgrades may be informed to you via a page at the gate or in the QP or just your boarding pass failing to work at the gate and having to be re-issued.

    There is also a slim chance of being upgraded onboard due to certain situations occuring.
  13. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
    anahababa, I hear you. I've never been upgraded on QF either. If I want to fly in J then I pay for it. :(
  14. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    Canberra / London
    Maybe a bit o/t (ie not QF), but on my 3 flights in December, I was op up'd on each of them (SIN-HKG-SIN on UA, and KUL-SYD on OS).

    The OS upgrade was particularly nice (as their Y class is fairly ordinary to say the least) and I have no doubt the reason for each upgrade was overbooking in the Y class cabin. I didn't plan it that way, but it was really appreciated.

    Being UA 1K and lifetime Star Gold probably helped a bit.
  15. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    Sorry couldn't resist. :D

    How did they manage to upgrade the aircraft at such short notice?
  16. oz_mark

    oz_mark Enthusiast

    Jun 30, 2002
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    TG are good at changing equipment at short notice :)
  17. cabbage74

    cabbage74 Intern

    Mar 28, 2005
    I just had my first upgrade. I asked at checkin at SCL if there was a chance for an upgrade to F (doing DONE4) for the flight to SYD, the flight was full. Anyway on the AKL-SYD sector my special meal (medical reasons) was not loaded. Chatting with the cabin crew they said they were returning to AKL on the next flight. I let them know I was too. When I came to board the gate agent muttered about regrade, and I was printed a nice BP with 1D. :).
  18. CdaWorld

    CdaWorld Junior Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    I've never had an op-up but a friend of mine with no status recently flew SYD-PEK (on a Chinese Airline, not sure which) and was op-up'd at check in. He was running late for his flight and told when he arrived that Y was full so they moved him to J! Then he had another flight a few days later PEK-NRT. The same thing happened.

    Should I try arriving late next time?! I'm always on time for flights as I enjoy using the lounge if I'm on OneWorld or in J/F. I don't usually take the risk of doing longhaul stuck in Y anymore so I either buy a J fare or register for a points upgrade (on QF).

    I wonder, as I'm about to go platinum, if I were to book my next long haul in Y could I finally be lucky?! Maybe I never give myself a chance to get an op-up? I don't think I fancy doing so and leaving it open with no chance. I think I'd still have to register for an upgrade. It's such a shame you don't have the option to use your points at check in.
  19. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    Arriving at check in late is a risky strategy. If your cabin is full and higher cabins are also full you could be downgraded, or if that is not possible, denied boarding. There's less chance of this happening if you have any kind of status.
  20. NM


    Aug 27, 2004
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    The late check-in theory does not work with Qantas. By the time check-in under way they already have a good idea if they will need to op-up people and that is done based on status and the ease of which they can move people around to gte the seat groups they need.

    If you checkin when the cabin is already full they are more likely to op-up a high-status person that had already checked in and give you their seat. So you may get a good seat. The op-upee will find out at the gate when their BP is rejected by the reader.

    But don't rely on this even for a good seat as if you get it wrong you will end up in seat 98E.

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