Free Upgrading ? (discussion)

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by icemann, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
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    French's Forest, NSW
    I'd like to open a post / get some discussion going on anyone's advice on how to get upgrades, because it's all a bit of a mystery. Some people advocate just asking and being direct, other people say that's the last thing you should do (because you're seen to be cheeky). Some people say that being smartly dressed helps, others don't think it plays much of a part.

    Some people advocate that a FF card is an absolute must ; some people say that that's more important than the level you're at (I have, and can provide links to a BA site where one person claims to have got one even though they had blue (Qantas = bronze) membership.

    Even though I have two mates who are pilots, I have a 'tame' travel agent, who I am good mates with, plus I've got Qantas Club membership (personally paid for, not corporate rates), but I never get asked ; but I DO make a point of wearing a shirt / tie / smart clothes at the airport when I fly. I don't expect an upgrade, but I do ask nicely if there is any room free in business class, unlike one guy (on a flight from SYD to LAX, who's wife spat the dummy and complained that her husband (Qantas Silver member) didn't get a business class upgrade, and that it 'was not on' that there were business class seats empty.

    One time, I was flying out of ADL to HKG, and the gate assistant put me and my partner at the BACK of the airplane ! :O I wasn't that happy, because even though I'm paying economy class, I didn't particularly wish to be at the back of the plane, given the loyalty that I've shown to Qantas and that I'd spent a few hundred $ on QC membership.

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    I went to the QC and politely asked if there was any room further forward, and there was, so they changed me to get 17 rows forward, which was good of them. So, that was O.K. - I reckon that the check in agent was just trying to be nasty.
     
  2. shillard

    shillard Guest

     
  3. shillard

    shillard Guest

     
  4. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
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    French's Forest, NSW
    That seemed like a bit vehement, no need for the cutting reply mate - especially seeing as I'm just new here.

    I was merely trying to get some people talking about their experiences as to the 'myths' surrounding getting upgraded.
     
  5. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    268
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    French's Forest, NSW
    I tried to start this thread because there's a lot of mis-information out there ; people have written books on 'sure fire ways' to get upgraded and countless articles are out there.

    There's a lot of mis-information - wear a suit, don't wear a suit. Be a Newlywed. Ask (or you won't get), don't ask (or you won't get for being cheeky). Status matters (with a discount ticket), status doesn't matter (full fare economy tickets are better). I've found so much conflicting information that I'd like to promote an active discussion as to what REALLY does work, and what doesn't, so that everyone can benefit.

    N.B. I went directly to the Qantas office in North Terrace, ADL a month ago and some of the full fare tickets were going for about as much as a business class ticket. Quote from one member of staff "They're about as expensive as business class, but no one ever uses them"

    And this is the stuff that books are based on - check out the term 'frequent flyer' on amazon.com and you'll see that there's stacks of books, promising you that 'you can score a free upgrade too by following X's surefire ways' - each one 'better than the other'

    For the record, this is one of the many internet resources that I came across, which deals with BA (a oneworld carrier) ; and there are a lot of posts here, all varied opinions.

    http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/cityguide_travel/travel/british_airways_in_general/_comments/240711/

    In particular, read the one by HarlequinS on 29.05.2002 at 01:53am.

    Since the terrible events of 9-11, airlines have been going bust (United) or suffering big financial worries, so they're trying harder to win customer loyalty and get people back on those flights. No one wanted to fly after 9-11. Think about it - to maximise profit, a full plane is better than a half full plane, because your overheads are still there for an empty plane.

    Now, let's consider international flights. If I fly outside of Oz, I can go with Star Alliance or Oneworld. They both know that there is the 'other' competitor, and that customers can go to either - in fact, I go with both. Particularly at higher status levels, customer satisfaction is paramount, since it's these 'high mileage earners' that are the mainstay of the carrier, and it's too easy to lose them to their competitor - you write to the manager of the frequent flyer scheme of the 'other' program, enclose a photocopy of your statement and say that for a conditional / probationary period of six months, you'll give them all that business (that would have gone to their competitor) for the same level of reciprocal rights and status, and I rate your chance as being very good.

    My point being - is that upgrades and better customer service should potentially be easier to get hold of because of what has happened in the past 2 years, because a customer lost is money lost ; it doesn't matter if I am 'a little person' on bronze or silver level who makes 10-20 trips every year - that's $15,000 that will go to someone else, and believe me, I know what customer service is (having dealt with it for 4 years), and if I don't like somewhere, because of where I've been treated, I'll walk and go somewhere else. My money is as good as anyone else's.

    A free upgrade or perk thrown at the 'up and coming' people in the status levels once in a while (not all the time, just occasionally) could secure loyalty and more business from them for a lot longer and for more money than the cost of an upgrade.

    I'll close with an illustrative example. My boss was a postdoctoral student, returning from Canada some 20 years ago. He had his wife and all his luggage with him, and he was a 'nobody' in the frequent flyer game really.

    He was flying with Ansett, and someone saw he was having trouble with his luggage, so they upgraded him to business class, gave him priority seating for that flight and didn't charge him excess baggage. They went out of their way to help him and he was a 'no one' to them. They didn't have to do it.

    That same 'little person' became a big person later - a Professor in a university, with 6 months overseas at any one time. He tried most of the other airlines, but he stuck with Ansett and the Star Alliance, because of what they had done for him all those years ago. That's my point - in that, what was a 'small thing' for the airline to do (put him in an empty business seat), reaped his loyalty for all those years to come.
     
  6. shillard

    shillard Guest

    Dude, if I was planning to be vehement toward you, you would know it! No offence intended with the previous post - just telling it how it is.

    Like I said, all these BS claims about "wear a suit, ask, etc" MAY apply in the US, but they sure as hell don't count here. QF (rightly) looks after you based on status, right down to seat allocation within a class. If you and I both buy a J ticket and request the same seat on an international flight (you cannot request specific seat assignments when booking domestic flights), I will get it - that is how it should be.

    Forget all the books, they're written by wankers who don't have a clue.

    If you want to REALLY know what goes on, and how it all works, check out flyertalk:

    www.flyertalk.com

    The QF and OW forums are excellent resources.
     
  7. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    It is very easy to get an upgrade on QF. All you have to do is ask in the Qantas Club, and be prepared to part with some points. I have asked several times, and each time the same answer, "I'll just check, sir" then "Yes there are some available, that will cost you x,000 points". When I'm tired and want to get home it is worth it.
     
  8. oz_mark

    oz_mark Enthusiast

    Jun 30, 2002
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    I am platinum and have only ever scored an upgrade once (and that was a red eye flight), so I don't think being platinum counts for much.

    Having said that I still manage to get a reasonable seat (except on the 737's from Syd->Per, there are no reasonable seats on that!!

    Cheers
     
  9. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    Upgrades

    As usual, Shillard is correct, except remember there are two types of upgrades - points/status credits upgrades and manual upgrades.

    Points/status credit upgrades are done on an automatic basis - those who have requested one within the time limits (Plat/Gold can within 90 days and up to 7 days prior, Silver/Bronze between 90 days and 21 days prior). These are based on a certain number of seats on every flights that are allocated to the points/status credits upgrades. Once they are allocated, then all you can do is "waitlist". This is more a first come/first served basis (but with a weighting to Plat & Gold because of our increased patronage - loyalty rules!)

    Secondly, Qantas employees known as "load managers" do the manual upgrades. Generally 3 days prior to departure, they review the sales status of each class of travel on every flight. If there are seats remaining to be sold and they feel there is little liklihood that they will be purchased (on the less travelled routes or off-peak), they may release them and allocate to any waitlisted upgrades according to FF status.

    I always check the passenger loads on every flight I do. It is as simple as asking the reservation agent (telephone or in person). Generally, for international, if the load is more than 30 oversold, it will be a full flight and there is a possibility that I might be upgraded manually by the load managers. If it is undersold, then there is more chance that I will be able to get a points or status credit upgrade - thus I will "waitlist" an upgrade.

    For domestic, I'm in the queue like everybody else in Qantas Club, so the only chance is if I get there early to request an "on departure upgrade".

    Consider the percentages - I flew 42 domestic sectors in 2002, I got only 8 "on departure" upgrades (20%) and understandable given the current full conditions on most flights. For international, I flew 45 sectors and got 12 points/status credit upgrades (or 25%). Not really much different. Sure, for both types, I didn't always request an upgrade (on short sectors, why bother), but more of my international flights were on 747's or 777's where capacity is generally better.

    Don't believe the American hype about asking the check-in person for an upgrade and getting it - they have no ability to upgrade you. Only Qantas Club employees have the ability using the "on-departure" upgrade. Sure, I know a couple of the Qantas staff in Brisbane QC lounge, but that really doesn't help me on upgrades. If they are caught, it is a punishable offence (to them). After all, I was married to one of them.....

    Being a Platinum member really isn't that great...the best benefit is jumping the phone queue and being put through to Premium Sales. After "earning "2,455 status credits in 10 months (with probably only 100 left to earn before February 29), believe me, your social and family life suffer greatly.

    After just having 7 days doing nothing on a beach in Phuket (albeit long flights on either side), I almost envy what some of you have. I'm surprised my girlfriend (now fiancee after the trip!) tolerated not seeing much of me in the past 6 months - it included 57 of those flights and in the 6 weeks prior to Christmas, it included 19 workings days away from Brisbane out of 30...would you want to swap????
     
  10. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    I thought this thread was about *free* upgrades and how to get them, not the sort you have to pay for.

    FWIW, I have scored a couple of *free* upgrades, mostly when the flight was oversold in Y and they upgraded some FFPL and FFGD paxs to J.

    The only time this hasn't occurred was when a travelling companion and I were in the QC lounge and my companion went to the toilet. His wallet slipped out of his pants, and was eventually found by the cleaner, sans about $300 cash. The cleaner returned it to the service desk, where my companion was paged. His wallet was returned to him, and a report was taken for security.

    The flight we were on has only 3 paxs in J, so the lounge manager took it upon himself to upgrade both of us (me FFGD, Stephen being a lowly Bronze) for that sector.

    This impressed Stephen no end, and since he wwas wavering between committing to QF or Vermin, this confirmed him as a QF customer, enough that he took out QC membership within days.

    So, they *can* do it, if they want to, or if they think it is worthwhile commercially.

    But it doesn't happen often, which is the way it should be.

    Dave
     
  11. michaelblain

    michaelblain Junior Member

    Jun 20, 2002
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    I am QC Bronze member. I once received a upgrade on BA from JFK to LHR (only to World Traveller Plus however). I can only attribute it to FF membership or QC membership. It was the cheapest ticket available.

    It was given to me at the gate - and I always board right at the death!

    So not sure exactly why my wife & I got it. But the extra legroom was appreciated. :p
     
  12. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    OK fair cop. Just that if you ask for an upgrade in the QC (domestically) they will always assume that you want to use points.

    As other posters have mentioned free upgrades seem to be usually pre-allocated. It also helps when for eg. a 747 runs on a route usually operated by a 737 (eg MEL-BNE once last year when I got put into first class).

    Domestically - I suspect the number of free upgrades allocated is proportional to the likelihood of a full service competitor entering the market. Why I say that is that during Dec-Feb last year I received 3 upgrades - all whilst the Tesna threat was still real (also whilst I was still a Gold FF). Since then (even though became Platinum in April) - none.
     
  13. Jetboy

    Jetboy Newbie

    Jan 20, 2003
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    Sydney NSW
    Must agree with some of the other posts. I was recently upgraded SYD BNE SYD and I used the Kiosk so go figure? Do they have cameras in those things to see how you're dressed, I don't think so.
     
  14. donjsimons

    donjsimons Junior Member

    Sep 26, 2002
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    Why is it when people get near an aircraft or an airport they suddenly feel SPECIAL? They have just left home where they pay the same for food and rates as everyone else and they have just parked their car in the same size carpark as everyone else, but when they get to the departure lounge they change. Suddenly they stop being normal people and become ego-maniacs, they become offended at the smallest imaginary affront to their nonexistant dignity and expect services they have never paid for.
    It is not their seats that need upgrading it is their attitude. If we have bought an economy seat then we should just politely sit in it untill we get off. It is like the people that change from moderate drinkers into bing drinkers from early morning once they are aboard a plane.
    Flyers should be warned 'Flying is a psychology hazard'.
    I read some of the petty squabble above and hope to hell one of these know-all egotists does not sit next to me next trip.
     
  15. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    P.O.A.D.
     
  16. shillard

    shillard Guest

    Beats me mate, I feel special no matter where I am. You probably won't be sitting next to me, but let me know if you're on the same plane, so I can send you back a spare bread roll. :)
     
  17. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    I think I prefer my response Scott. :roll:

    Dave
     
  18. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
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    French's Forest, NSW
    I think that donjsimons was referring to the way that some people (and I know some business 'colleagues' of mine who behave like this) behave like spoilt kids because they believe they are the most important.

    Just returned from BNE and saw one woman (as I was checking into QC) barge past everyone (literally) and shout at the club staff that 'she'd be with them after she'd checked in'. They took a dim view of that and went 'o.k.....'



    If people have earned that right (e.g. preferred boarding), then that's fair enough - I'm not trying to diss the elite frequent flyers, but I have noticed some people just barging their way through in the economy cabin in the seat next to me when I'm trying to unload my bag - a bit of common courtesy, like asking me "Excuse me please ?" would go a long way. But saying that, I've also noticed that some top level frequent flyers believe that they're almost like royalty and treat other top level flyers (incl. myself) with utter contempt. They EXPECT to be upgraded at every turn, and they EXPECT this and EXPECT that and kick and scream if they don't get it.

    People, we are all together in this world, we all need to work together - common courtesy is unfortunately not very common.

    :eek: :eek:
     
  19. QF WP

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    Icemann, I have seen the people too at QC Domestic, although QC International appears to be a different story. I'm glad that I can access the F Lounge, because I've found most people there to be polite. Agree with you, it goes a long way...
     
  20. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    268
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    French's Forest, NSW
    Cheap Upgrading

    This is from the thaiarways.com.au site. Is there any hope of OW alliance carriers doing the same thing ? I would certainly pay a modest fee for a business class airfare upgrade a few weeks prior to the flight, rather than a few thousand.

    Article follows :-

    Exceptional Savings on Upgrades with Thai

    Between 15 April and 31 October 2002, Royal Orchid Plus members can buy discounted upgrades from Economy Class to the comfort of Royal Executive Class, or from Royal Executive Class to the elegance of Royal First Class. These upgrades can be requested within 10 days prior to your scheduled departure and cost as little as US$200 Perth - Bangkok, or US$300 Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Bangkok.
    For further information on prices, routes and conditions, or about Royal Orchid Plus call 1300 651 960.
     
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