If you have Elite Status this tip is for you and it doesn’t matter if you’re Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Elite!
As a frequent flyer, the best part of flying is flying in the front of the plane. Sure, economy isn’t bad when you get an economy comfort or exit row seat; it is what I pay for. I definitely enjoy my first class upgrades, but there’s no way I’m going to pay for them unless they are free, discounted, with miles, etc. Every now and then, I’ll pay for an upgrade with cash if it’s a substantial saving (like I did on an Aeromexico flight), however I will never pay full fare for a business class ticket. Despite this, I do try my hardest to get upgraded to F as often as possible.
So How to get upgraded even when you’re number 43 on the waitlist?
There’s a number of ways to get upgraded to first if you only have Silver or Gold Status, however they take some flexibility and you have to hope the stars align perfectly.
1) Volunteer Yourself for a bump
This will not be possible on every flight, but often times if traveling on a business heavy day planes often to be full and/or oversold. Business heavy days are redeyes Sunday night, Mondays, Thursday, and Fridays. Some would also argue Tuesdays, but my best bet of oversold flights has been the days that I’ve listed. If it’s a holiday or school break, all bets are off and every flight can be oversold! Even if the gate agent hasn’t solicited for volunteers, don’t be afraid to get in line and ask if the flight is oversold. Let the gate agent know you’re willing to be bumped. In addition, if they are taking volunteers, know your options and know what flights will get you to where you need to go.
Last week when Delta was seeking volunteers they told me they already had enough but I would have to spend the night in San Diego. I then countered them and said, how about you send me to LAX on Flight XXX connecting to flight XXX tonight. Within minutes, they called me back to the podium and since I did the work for them, I was bumped and rebooked, bypassing the list of other volunteers who didn’t tell the gate agents options that would work and I save the airline money (they didn’t have to pay for a hotel) and I saved the gate agent time! Not to mention I got to pocket a $400 flight voucher! However, by being bumped, you are always rebooked in “Y” class. This means “full-fare” economy. This also means that you are put to the top of the upgrade list! So even if you’re silver or elite, Y,B,M classes are eligible for upgrades at time of ticketing. So if there’s even 1 empty seat, you’ll get it! From my experience, every time I’ve been bumped I’ve become #1 on the upgrade list bypassing diamonds and platinum elites!
So the shortcut to 1st class is volunteering for the bump! If you’re not elite, ask the gate agents if there’s any way you can be rebooked in First. If you smile and the gate agent likes you, they might be able to work some magic!
Whenever there is a delay to your flight, this is considered an irregular operation. It doesn’t matter if your flight is delayed 10 minutes or 3 hours with any delay if you check Delta.com you’ll have the option to change flights. This works best when the airline notifies you early, but even at the airport you can reroute yourself getting a first class seat.
If you’re ever delayed, get to a hotspot and go to Delta.com (or use your mobile device). Once logged in, open up your itinerary and you’ll see a link that says “change my flight”. Click on this and it will show you all flight options. It will show you one-stop connections or multi-stop connections. Rebook yourself in any of these options and you’ll be rebooked in Y class! Again meaning if there’s an open seat you’ll be upgraded to first! The best part is, if you’re delayed a long period of time you can sometimes rebook yourself for another flight, get the instant upgrade, and then again change your flights!
This week when flying TPA-DTW-SAN my flight was delayed 30 minutes. I rebooked myself on a later flight that had LOTS of room in F (TPA-ATL-SAN) and received my instant upgrade. Then, now that I was booked in First, Delta.com showed my reservation as V (upgraded) class. Since Delta.com showed me in a full fare class (really was rebooked in Y), this meant I could change my flight without penalty. I was then able to go online change my flights again, and select the SAME route I was original schedule for by selecting “change my flight” and get a confirmed seat in first!
We all love the front of the plane, unfortunately getting there isn’t always the easiest. If you’re high on the Elite totem pole it’s easier for some than others, however if you only have an “entry level” elite status, this is one way you can up your chances of being upgraded; after all, don’t we all want to sit up front?