The Two Words That Will Help Get an Airline Upgrade Over the Phone

The Two Words That Will Help Get an Airline Upgrade Over the Phone

Emirates’ first-class suite. Source: Emirates British writer Tilly Bagshawe is the New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen novels. Her first, Adored , was a Jackie Collins-style blockbusting bodice-ripper, and she has since gone on to pen several page-turning hits in the same style. She’s also written multiple officially sanctioned novels in the style of Sidney Sheldon. Her latest book is the first in a murder mystery series set in her beloved British countryside: Murder at the Mill (Trapeze), which Bagshawe wrote under her pen name, M.B. Shaw. […]

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A longtime expat, Bagshawe estimates that she flies around 100,000 miles per year as she shuttles between the U.K. and her current base in Los Angeles, where she lives with husband Robin Nydes and four children. Her carrier of choice: Virgin Atlantic. “I’m quite a fearful flyer and I often think, when I get on a plane, ‘Are these the people I want to die with in a plume of smoke?’ she laughs, “And the cabin crew are so nice, always laughing. It has the best entertainment system, especially children, and they bring fab ice lollies in the middle of the flight, which is one of my children’s favorite things.”

The insider secret to scoring an upgrade with miles? Just two little words.

Passenger seats in the business-class cabin of Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s Airbus SE A380, Nov. 2, 2017. Photo from Singapore Airlines.

We have never bought an upper-class seat; if ever we’ve flown anywhere up front, we’ve used miles to upgrade from economy. If you want to do that, call reservations and drop the name “revenue management.” The reason is that revenue management’s job is to make sure a flight is profitable, so they’re the ones telling

[reservation agents]

what they can say; they’re like Flying Club’s boss. Not everyone knows that this department exists, and by mentioning it you reveal yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how seats are released. Say to the agent: ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’ When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left. Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold?  Why aren’t you releasing them?’ Often by the end of the conversation they say, ‘OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow. Doing that, we’ve had a pretty much 100 percent success rate.

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