I’m sure most of us at one point or another have had to book a flight or check into a hotel for a night or more. While most of us are used to getting the bare minimum such as a decent seat or a hotel with an average view from the window, you may wonder, Could this get any better? An upgrade in some form or another would be great and there are a few things to keep in mind in order to get that spacious seat or bigger room with the scenic view.
Karl Backlund, who started Marchay, a website for travel and whom has many years of traveler experience, has offered his advice on how to get that premium seat or fancy hotel room.
Backlund’s trick here is simple: “Never ask for an upgrade.” “Instead, you should focus on the specifics you’d like to have and ask for those, whether it’s a balcony, bathtub, view or high-up floor with lots of light.” Most properties will want to accommodate you, especially if you make the request in advance of your arrival. Hotels will often give travelers a courtesy upgrade of one or two categories, if rooms are available, Backlund says.
If you’re going for a suite, Backlund warns you might have to shell out some dough. But there’s a smarter way to go about that, too. Check the hotel’s website before your arrival, as well as discount sites like Jetsetter, and HotelTonight to see if you can search what a suite at your hotel costs for the night. Then, negotiate down.
The chances of scoring an upgrade on a flight varies depending on whether you’re traveling on a domestic or international route. Backlund says that airline loyalty programs usually dominate domestic flight upgrade possibilities, so it’s crucial to stay loyal to your domestic carrier and build status. If you’re like Backlund, though, and select flights based on fare and schedule, keep checking your flight’s seat map a few days before takeoff to see what’s available and if there are any last-minute offers.
If you booked through a credit card that has great travel rewards, you could also call your credit card company to see if you have any points to put toward an upgrade, or if they have any deals that could take you from an economy to a premium seat.
When traveling internationally, Backlund spends some cash. “I pay for a seat upgrade at check-in to go from Economy to Premium or Business class,” he says. He’s found he can upgrade to a premium seat sometimes for as low as $100-$200 more, which is well worth it. He’s had luck bumping himself to business class for as low as $300-$400, but says he’s had significantly more luck on European, Middle Eastern and Asian airlines.
While upgrades can always make your travel experience more enjoyable, Backlund’s key tip for less stressful travel comes down to a change at the airport: “Apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry,” he says. “It’ll make your trip easier and less stressful. Some credit cards even offer discounts.”