September 5, 2008

Business Class on an Economy budget

I need to share my excitement. We finally arrived in marvelous Munich and despite the grueling 18 hour journey; our trip was more pleasant than usual. Throughout the years of traveling on my own, I have learned how to improve comfort during often long and boring flights. First of all, I always make it a point to bring along the following in my generally oversized bag: an Ipod to keep me company, a book to keep me occupied, a Pashmina shawl to keep me warm, moisturizer to keep me looking fresh, chips to keep the movie watching more fun and chocolate to keep me happy. But despite all the little goodies that I never fail to pack, sitting in a cramped economy class seat for 15 hours simply isn’t enjoyable, no matter how excited you are to reach your destination. But of course, with all the money set aside for shopping, more trips and good food, my wallet can’t afford the oh-so-tempting business class. Luckily I have found my way around spending a fortune: get upgraded for free! There are 3 rules to follow if you want to stand a chance on a free upgrade. Number 1: Enroll in the mileage program of the airline you usually fly with and stick with that airline. Number 2: Dress to impress. Number 3: Always be friendly and smile. The more you earn miles with a specific airline, the more likely will you be prioritized upon upgrade. At the check-in counter, ask the agent if the flight is full. An overbooked flight increases the odds for an upgrade. Without being too pushy, inquire if you may avail of an upgrade. Smile when you ask. I usually also add the white lie of having much work to do during the flight (it’s called business class for a reason!). The check-in agent will then, with a bit of luck, put you on a list, which will inform the boarding personnel about your query. At the boarding gate, politely ask again and notify the person in charge that you’ve been told by the check-in to report to them. Now all you can do is wait and hope. Once the flight starts boarding, your name will hopefully be called and your ordinary economy boarding pass will transform into a ticket to luxury. Ignorance is bliss, but once you’ve experienced freshly squeezed orange juice, champagne à volonté, à la carte menu, fluffy blankets, branded toiletries, big screen TVs and oh-so-spacious seats it is impossible not to, at least, try and ask for a free upgrade.

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