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View Full Version : How to score First Class seat?



Brock Landers
01-07-2008, 10:25 AM
I checked the Just the Tip thread but couldnt find a reasonable way in there to score first class. I thought there were some suggestions but Im not sure if I just didnt look hard enough or whatever...

So, is there a way to increase your chances of moving up to a first class seat on a long trip...provided first class isnt booked solid? Im just thinking go up to the counter right when I get there and just throw the idea out to them that I wouldnt mind being moved up to first class, if there are any empty seats. Is that just about all you can do? Throw the counter lady a 20 spot?

Hugh Conway
01-07-2008, 10:30 AM
Be a member of the elite FF program with an upgrade credit or serious status. Pay them money to upgrade you.

Otherwise, forget it (Insert stupid ancedote from someone else proving me "wrong" here :rolleyes: )

splat
01-07-2008, 10:34 AM
There's only one airline I know of that does on the spot upgrades for $100.
Most want big bucks or lotsa miles, even then it's tough.
I hate 15 hour flights in economy.....:FIREdevil

ColMan
01-07-2008, 10:42 AM
Which airline? International or domestic?

Unless you have status in their FF program, you gotta pay.

Tye 1on
01-07-2008, 11:48 AM
Which airline? International or domestic?

Unless you have status in their FF program, you gotta pay.
I've seen delta have 1st class for sale. Unfortunately it almost always seems to be for short hops. 3 hour flight or more, the FF magnates scoop 'em all up.

Best i can do is use seatguru.com to try and at least get a seat that reclines...

FJ62
01-07-2008, 11:49 AM
Alaska has the 100 dollar upgrade policy that Splat is talking about but even they seem to have fewer first class seats available than they used to.

If you join enough frequent flier programs (and fly enough) you'll start to get the occasional upgrade to Business Class offer... first class isn't something easily attained though.

You may have the best luck just trying to get an entire row in Coach to yourself by asking nicely if there are any empty spots so you can stretch out.

Viva
01-07-2008, 11:53 AM
Which airline? International or domestic?

Unless you have status in their FF program, you gotta pay.

I used to be able to do this with Alaska. Just a couple of years ago it was $50 at the gate to upgrade to 1st class. I think one can still do this, but its more difficult due to more crowded flights.

Platinum Pete
01-07-2008, 12:44 PM
I've been flying US Airways a bit lately and at automated check in they are consistently offering the upgrade for $200 - $300 depending on the flight and availability.

My best 1st class upgrade came when I was sandwiched between a fat guy and his wife in the furthest back row, near the galley. They were giving me a ton of shit about the arm rest (and I'm no petite myself) and the stewardess noticed this and asked if I wouldn't mind changing seat so they could be more comfortable. I figured it couldn't get worse and said yes, even though the plane looked full. They sat me in first class and all the stewardesses came up to me thanking me for being so nice and complaining that booking never forces fatties to buy 2 seats even though it is now policy. I got fucking drunk on that flight.

Lesson: be nice and you might get a free upgrade.

ColMan
01-07-2008, 12:49 PM
For United, you can usually purchase systemwide upgrades on ebay for $250-400 per segment. Allows you to upgrade from econ to biz (3 class aircraft) or econ-first (2-class aircraft) on most tickets anywhere in the world they fly. Not worth it for a domestic flight, but isn't a bad way to go if you're on a 16+ hour haul to Asia or AUS/NZ.

Also, if you have friends/family that travel a ton, see if anyone is top tier on United (1K or GS). I used to give away at least 2 UA systemwides each year to friends/family as my work related flights were mostly short domestic hops.

CantDog
01-07-2008, 12:55 PM
The best luck I've had is when flying alone and when the flight isnt very full. What seemed to do the trick was just being friendly to the flight attendants. I never asked, they simply came up to me and asked if I would like to move up front. One was a flight from Dulles to Phoenix, the other was a flight from Amsterdam to Zurich.

mtnbikerskierchick
01-07-2008, 01:07 PM
My frequent flyer program upgraded me a lot when I had "elite" status (which means mega miles). Other than that, you just sometimes have luck. I really don't think spotting a $20 at the check in counter would do you much good though....

Chaka
01-07-2008, 01:28 PM
Also, if you have friends/family that travel a ton, see if anyone is top tier on United (1K or GS). I used to give away at least 2 UA systemwides each year to friends/family as my work related flights were mostly short domestic hops.

this is a lot more difficult now with the e-systemwide upgrades replacing the paper coupon versions. The giver has to physically be at the counter in person to sign over the e-upgrade now.

Toadman
01-07-2008, 02:13 PM
If you're not a member of a particular airlines FF program, it's almost impossible to UG. Also depends on the class of fare you purchased. Buy a cheapo non-refundable and you can pretty much forget the UG, especially on an int'l flight. Buying those UG certs on ebay might not work if you don't have the proper fare class either.

ColMan
01-07-2008, 02:32 PM
this is a lot more difficult now with the e-systemwide upgrades replacing the paper coupon versions. The giver has to physically be at the counter in person to sign over the e-upgrade now.

Can't they just call the 1K line and apply it to the itinerary using the locator number? I was able to gift a few regional e-upgrades that way.

schindlerpiste
01-07-2008, 02:37 PM
http://firstclass.farecompare.com/2007/11/16/step-by-step-guide-how-to-find-and-buy-discount-first-class-airfare/

ICEHOCEY77
01-07-2008, 03:37 PM
Work for the airlines or get a close family member to.

uglymoney
01-07-2008, 03:48 PM
flyertalk.com (http://flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=374) then click on your airlines FF mile program then look at one of the sticky posts with tons of links. Somewhere in there should be a link with the info you need like this post about United upgrades (http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=606224&page=1&pp=15).

I can sit and read flyertalk for hours and hours. Never ending wealth of information and some great trip reports.

pechelman
01-07-2008, 04:06 PM
the only time ive ever flown 1st class

flying from Atlanta (one of the worst hubs in my experience)
Really bad weather canceled my flight (and everyone elses) and was told I was rescheduled for the next morning at 730a. Ok no biggie. I show up 2 hours early, get to the counter. "We have no record of you on this flight"....

Anyway, I talk to the lady, staying nice the whole time and she says she'll look for an available seat. 2 minutes later, she hands me a ticket and Im stoked! On my way to the gate I look at my ticket...it says im in seat 4A. I know this is a big plane and im going to Denver, so Im thinking this cant be right.

So I sit down in the terminal and hear tons of people complaining how theyve been here for 20hours and cant get a seat on anything. Again Im thinking no way in hell is this actually going to work.

The time comes, they call my section, I board, sit down, and Im on and I cant freaking beleive it.

Not only did I make it out of one huge clusterfuck in Atlanta, but I did so on first class.


so unless some freak miracle like that happens to you....
what everyone else said

Snowy Wintergarden
01-07-2008, 05:07 PM
There are two proven methods.
Both are free.
Both can be used by anyone.
So long as the anyone is well-dressed.
And good-looking.
Being good-looking really helps.
A lot.
Being really good-looking helps even more.
If you are also charming, it's a done deal - unless the flight is full.

Method 1 - Official Upgrade
Check in while being well-dressed and good-looking.
Simple.


Method 2 - Unofficial Upgrade
After you're airborne, simply walk into First Class (while being well-dressed and good-looking) and choose an empty seat.
If there's a meal, go after the meal.

mojorisin
01-07-2008, 06:23 PM
just flew US Airways, and they offered be a first class upgrade for $100. wasn't worth it to me though

Jer
01-07-2008, 06:26 PM
Break your leg or mess up your knees. It's worked for me.

givethepigeye
01-07-2008, 06:30 PM
There are FAR less seats available to upgrade now day of flight. Airlines are even re-seating equipment to eliminate some and add more coach seats. Travelers rarely pay for them and they get gobbled up by FF's and those folks that "earn" their status by using the airline credit cards which generate miles, which then translate to status or use those points for upgrades.

I travel East Coast- West Coast almost every other week and have difficulty getting upgraded even at the 100K mile tier status - USAir is taking out seats in the first class cabins on the 320/321's and on busy routes CLT-LAX, CLT-SFO, CLT-SEA, and CLT-PHX - its about 50/50 on a big seat.

Depending on carrier availability and your flight time - I would use any miles you have and $ to upgrade if its important to you. While there may be examples of a "hookup" here or there - in general practice - I wouldnt count on it anymore - regardless of how nice you are or how well dressed.

My $0.02

splat
01-07-2008, 07:32 PM
Alaska has the 100 dollar upgrade policy that Splat is talking about but even they seem to have fewer first class seats available than they used to.

If you join enough frequent flier programs (and fly enough) you'll start to get the occasional upgrade to Business Class offer... first class isn't something easily attained though.

You may have the best luck just trying to get an entire row in Coach to yourself by asking nicely if there are any empty spots so you can stretch out.
Yep, Alaska. And I've gotten that upgrade from Boston to Seattle. Man, was that sweet. I just scored full rows to Europe and back last month so I could catch some shuteye. If you ask nicely for a full row at the airport, or log center seat in the middle through the online seat selection, it will work out.

Chaka
01-07-2008, 09:06 PM
Can't they just call the 1K line and apply it to the itinerary using the locator number? I was able to gift a few regional e-upgrades that way.


I am 1K, and had to go to the counter the day before to sign over a systemwide e upgrade to my wife. Maybe I'm just not well liked by UA.

DrGonzo
01-07-2008, 09:30 PM
Anyway, I talk to the lady, staying nice the whole time and she says she'll look for an available seat. 2 minutes later, she hands me a ticket and Im stoked!


Every upgrade I've ever gotten for free has been the result of staying calm and polite when they are overbooked or in the middle of a weather related clusterfuck.

Or, you can be the last one to show up after the final boarding call. Actually, that's only worked for me once, but it worked when it counted, this Christmas from JFK to Amsterdam. I'm pretty sure it could have worked out equally poorly. Business class is the shit.