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Fly Better

Tips to getting yourself to the upper class.
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With airfare on the rise, you and your staff are most likely flying coach. One way to avoid this is to book a coach seat and snag an upgrade. That's how many road warriors optimize frequent flier miles--for upgrades rather than free flights. But with planes flying full, competition for upgrades is intense. How can you increase your chances of getting lucky?

  • Work hard to achieve "elite" status in a frequent flier program. You'll get preference over non-elites whenever a seat upgrade becomes available.
  • Don't fly out of your preferred carrier's hub. There's less competition for upgrades from secondary airports.
  • Pay for an upgrade in cash. Some airlines, including American and Northwest, allow you to pay for an upgrade (usually less than $100) if seats are available. And some companies allow the upgrade if the total ticket price remains close to the average coach fare for that city pair.

For more ways to maximize your upgrade chances, check out flightbliss.com, a new, free website de-voted to airline upgrade strategies, launched by Matthew Bennett, publisher of subscription-only First Class Flyer. Other related sites include frequentflier.com, insideflyer.com and webflyer.com.

Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.

Edition: May 2017

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