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LHSebi
Topic Author
Posts: 1007
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:24 am

Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:09 am

Hello,
I was just thinking, people could post their experiences of trying (and possibly succeeding) in getting an upgrade at the checkin desk. Please describe the situation (airline, original class, to what class, what did you ask, etc). I am soon flying a long-haul flight across the Atlantic, and was wondering what the best way is to approach the person at the counter to ask for an upgrade. I know dressing well helps, but what else? How would you ask?

Sebastian
I guess that's what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.
 
JAL777
Posts: 2453
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 10:13 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:16 am

The best way to request an upgrade is to whip out your credit card and pay for it. It's guaranteed.
 
Sabena332
Posts: 14938
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 3:57 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:22 am

Traveling on ID tickets and an overbooked Economy Class will help you maybe, otherwise your chances are low.

My girlfriend and I got an upgrade from Economy Class into Club World (Business Class) on a BA flight from EWR to LHR, we were traveling on ID tix but Economy Class was completely booked out on that flight (it was New Years Day of 2003), the check in agent couldn't decide himself, so he called the station (or duty) manager, only he was allowed to give us the upgrade.

If I were you, I would not ask for an upgrade, it's totally unfriedly in my opinion! You only paid Eco fare, so you must fly in Eco! If you want to fly in Business you should buy Business Class tix.

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
User avatar
PA110
Posts: 1988
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2003 1:30 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:22 am

While policies and procedures vary widely from carrier to carrier, these days frequent flyer programs pretty consume the upgrade process. On most flights I've taken in the last 2 years, there is a whole hierarchy of upgrading going on.
1. The most elite level (the ones who annually accrue the most miles) are able to upgrade anywhere between 24-72 hours before the flight, depending on the airline.
2. The next several tiers of frequent flyers are able to upgrade anywhere from day of departure to 24 hours prior.
3. Airline/Industry staff authorized for space-available upgrades usually come next (or last) depending on the priorities.

Discretionary upgrades not related to industry tickets or frequent fliers generally only come into play if the back of the plane is oversold, and the front of the plane has plenty of space. In that case, most carriers have widely varying guidelines as to who they upgrade. Some will upgrade just about anyone who asks, provided they look somewhat presentable. Other carriers will go by the ticket value (most expensive fares get upgraded first).

Best chances are flying middle of the week in the summer season. There are fewer business travelers, and the back of the plane is normally fully booked. Even then, don't get your hopes up.

Other A.net members who are current airport customer service agents, might be able to give more info.

Good Luck.



[Edited 2004-02-14 00:24:25]

[Edited 2004-02-14 00:25:41]
Look, it's been swell, but the swelling's gone down.
 
LHSebi
Topic Author
Posts: 1007
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:24 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:04 am

Why does there always have to be someone in the group that has to be the smartass? For those others who replied, thanks! I was actually not thinking of Eco-Business, but Business to First...is that very common? I'm guessing not so much, or?

Sebastian
I guess that's what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.
 
Sabena332
Posts: 14938
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 3:57 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:24 am

I was actually not thinking of Eco-Business, but Business to First...is that very common?

The chances are also low, only if Business is overbooked and you have frequent flyer elite status, or if you are traveling on Business Class ID tix and Business Class is overbooked (and First Class has free seats).

You should be very happy that you can fly in Business Class, it is something special (at least for me, I flew a couple of times in Business but only because I got an upgrade [as described in my post above] or because my company paid it). Sad that some people can't get enough  Sad.

Different story: I also got downgraded twice from Biz into Eco. fellow a.net member SQ325 and I made a trip to DXB last October, we had (ID) tix for Business but this class was heavily oversold, so we had to fly in Eco, see my trip report for more details: https://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/37071

Anyway, I wish you a nice flight, no matter in which class you will end.

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
HNLFlyBoy
Posts: 318
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2004 12:01 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:27 am

Sebastian,

I don't think it is uncommon to u/g C class pax to F class as they are both considered "premium" cabins and provided the "back of the bus" is really oversold so they are moving everyone up. Basically, they want seats in the back, so they will move some pax up to C from Y based on each carriers respective critieria. They can also look to u/g C to F, provided there is space up front, in order to open up seats in C.

I remember once LAX-HNL (HA DC-10)with my girlfriend, we were in Y and they needed our seats so they bumped BOTH of us up to F which I thought was quite nice. Of course, I think it helped that I was a Platinum FF member of HA at the time. So I don't think it's as uncommon as you think.

Good Luck!
 
KKMolokai
Posts: 741
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2000 2:06 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:33 am

A lot of passengers ask for comp upgrades at the ticket counter. Most requests are unjustifiable. However, when possible, we do try to upgrade those on Honeymoons and/or wedding anniversaries. Sometimes we'll upgrade elderly passengers who otherwise are sitting in the most rear of an aircraft on a very full flight. Other than that, as stated earlier, those wishing to upgrade should pay for the upgrade.

As a side note, the ticket counter has less control over the Premium cabins (First, Business) with regard to "comp upgrades." The inventory in these cabins are generally handled by the agents working that particular flight. Even so, comp upgrades are generally rare, except in extreme and/or special occasions.

P.S. Travel agents very often request upgrades - We do not upgrade travel agents.
We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
 
bobb
Posts: 241
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 12:15 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:34 am

Curious, does one get extra peanuts on 1st class vs business? [GGG]

I once flew business BA LON-SFO and sat on the second row upstairs 747. Wide leather chair, personal IFE blah...blah...blah and slept all the way!
 
LHSebi
Topic Author
Posts: 1007
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:24 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:39 am

Sad that some people can't get enough...Patrick, I thought that comment was pretty insulting. Let me tell you something...I dont fly Business a lot either. In fact, most of my flights in business, which are not very many, have also been because of upgrades. The only way I might be flying business this summer, is if I work my ass off and save up money, just for this. I have never flown first class before, and was just wondering if I would have a chance in fulfilling one of my long-time dreams.

HNLFlyboy, thanks for your response! That first class must have been nice!  Big thumbs up

Sebastian
I guess that's what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.
 
Sabena332
Posts: 14938
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 3:57 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:47 am

Patrick, I thought that comment was pretty insulting.

No, it was not, I just described the reality.

I have never flown first class before, and was just wondering if I would have a chance in fulfilling one of my long-time dreams.

As I wrote: pay for F, than you can be sure that you will end up there, otherwise you should be lucky that you have a confirmed seat in C.

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
lanperu
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2001 1:17 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:48 am

The best thing to do (as I did) is to first show them your FF membership..of course if you have only flown with them once or twice forget it...But if you were like me that flew 6 legs in less than 4 months then you might have a pretty good chance. Another thing about the legs..they have to be kinda long. In my case I flew Lan Chile/Lan Peru:

LAX-LIM
LIM-CUZ
LIM-AQP
AQP-LIM
LIM-SCL
SCL-LIM-LAX

Now, I didn't get a "Free" upgrade but it was DEEPLY discounted...I paid 300USD to upgrade...that is NOTHING compared to the difference in fares. I paid 710USD+300USD=1010 for LAX-LIM-LAX while in Business I would have paid 4500USD. So although it was not free it was worth it..that is all the help that I can give you. Hope it helps.

This flight was on 29.12.2004 (Low season up here) so that might be a factor too. Good Luck
 
NWAirlinkFO
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sat Feb 14, 2004 2:57 pm

Back when I was a gate agent I would often upgrade pax to First Class if they had experienced some type of hardship because of the airline's mistake before some Frequent Flier that was demanding an upgrade and was quite rude. Back then it was at the discretion of the gate agent however. Typically rude pax did not receive the upgrade while appreciative non-revs or their family members (that never asked for it) did. That was some years ago though. But I enjoyed lifting the spirits of a tired or misconnected pax that had been stranded by the airline much more than the demanding and rude frequent flier.
 
airjampanam
Posts: 243
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 3:06 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sun Feb 15, 2004 12:23 am

Amen to that NWairlinkfo.
I have Non revved a few times from LHR to EWR on United and was automatically placed in Business no questions asked.
It helps to just present well and not be demanding.
Suing is the new Lotto... if u wanna win u gotta sue!
 
Jumpseat70
Posts: 359
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 12:52 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Sun Feb 15, 2004 12:32 am

On transatlantic flights, if you are a full paying pax, the only way to get upgraded legally is with a paid upgrade or a frequent flyer upgrade. We would not upgrade you any other way, since the computers would not print a boarding authority without getting a cash transaction or a frequent flyer deduction of mileage.

Back in the old days, upgrading a passenger was a lot easier. Today it is quietly monitored due to IATA agreements and restrictions.
"Up, Up and away with TWA"
 
AMS
Posts: 1621
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 7:34 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:49 am

From my experience I have received most comp upgrades in the USA, Many times I asked for one and got it.

 
fspilot747
Posts: 3455
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 1999 2:58 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:53 am

I've nevre asked for an upgrade, but I got one once anyways. I was flying from LAX-ORD, and this was back when they used the 744's. I got to the airport really early (something like 3 hours before departure), I don't know why. Anyways, I checked in super early at a random United Desk, and asked if I could possibly get a better seat. She said ok, see me in a little while.

Well, I did, and she handed me a gold ticket. At first, I thought it was economy plus. I didn't realize till I got in line to board that it said "Business Class."

I thought it was great.

FSP
 
Guest

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:58 am

I've had one or two occasions where I presented an upgrade certificate at check-in and was given it back and told "Don't worry about it" with a wink. I found in those situations, coach was full and they probably upgraded to save having to bump somebody. I've gotten upgrades after volunteering my seat and being told they didn't need it.

I think it is completely improper to ask for upgrades at the counter. I also shudder when I see people upgraded free for reasons other than operational needs, especially when I'm already sitting in First after cashing in upgrades/miles/money.
 
delta-flyer
Posts: 2633
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2001 9:47 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:06 am

I have had a pleasant experience last December regading upgrades .....

I am an elite-level on Delta and had a round trip full Y ticket JAN-SVO via JFK. I did not get upgraded JFK-SVO because all seats were booked when I bought my ticket (a week in advance, as I did not have my visa earlier); but I managed to get a confirmed upgrade to business-elite for the return trip SVO-JFK.

On the day of the return trip, the DL flight was canceled because the eastbound flight was delayed due to bad weather in NY. DL then rebooked me on SU, and gave me an F seat, as all their business seats were taken. (SU has 3-class configuration on their 767) They did charge me 20,000 miles for a two-class upgrade, vs 10,000 for a one-class, but it was worth it. Coach and business were 100% full, but in F only 4 of the 10 seats were taken. The service was excellent, and the cabin staff was extremely friendly. And, I love Russian food, which was also excellent!

Pete
"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"
 
HNLFlyBoy
Posts: 318
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2004 12:01 pm

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:07 am

Sebastian,

You are more than welcome for the response. The two years that I was a Platinum with HA, I was upgraded on a very constant basis. I was always upgraded when traveling inter-island and they did their best to u/g me on my trans-pac flights to the West Coast.

When I was a Premier with UA, I would often get u/g to C. They had one flight a day from LAX-HNL that used a 742 in a three-class config. so I would book that flight. A couple of times I splurged and did the trip in F with those giant sleeper seats and the 60" pitch. That is heaven! I have yet to try the new UA First Suite, but I have heard mixed feelings on its design.

I am always dressed well when I travel, for business or pleasure, and that really helps in the u/g department. Don't let anyone tell you else wise. My oldest sister was a F/A for CO and I asked her if it's true they sometimes u/g because of how you are dressed. She said ABSOLUTELY, since the airline would like to present it's premium cabin passengers as such and uphold the "image" of the cabin.

HNLFB
 
Guest

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:08 am

Pete,
Sounds like you paid for the double upgrade anyway with twice the mileage. They should have offered it to you with no additional deduction, as it was their fault and they could not accommodate you. I'd be irate if given a confirmed upgrade, then told if I want to keep it, I have to cough up twice as many miles on the spot.
 
LH423
Posts: 5924
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 1999 6:27 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:18 am

LHSebi: You have to understand where Sabena332 is coming from. As an airline employee, I do. When we fly on staff tickets we're tossed around like yesterday's garbage. And the only time we can actually be sure that we have a seat that will take us to where we want is after the plane pushes back from the gate. And even then you have to hope the plane doesn't go tech before take-off. When you start working for an airline all you hear about is the great travel benefits and how you can go see the world for dirt cheap. Then once you start travelling you get to learn how it really works and how it's not as glamorous as one might think. Of course it's great when we get placed in a premium cabin but the reality is more-often-than-not it's going to be a middle seat in the back of a 747 on a 13 hour flight. But, when you think about it, we paid almost nothing (hence the term NRSA or Non-Revenue, Space Available) so we can't complain and should really just be happy that we have a seat on the plane. I'm sure Sabena332 meant no offence but from where he's sitting you have a confirmed business class seat meaning no waiting, no hoping the plane doesn't fill up, and if something doesn't go right and the flight cancels, you get accomodated on other airlines, put up in hotels if needed, or get put on the next available flight. As staff, we get a "Sorry, tomorrow's flights don't look too bad. Downstairs is the telephone for nearby hotels"...if we're lucky.

I'll say it again (a bit more delicately). You have a CONFIRMED seat in J. That ain't no joke there. I'd love it if I could afford to travel in business. Of course, then I probably wouldn't need to travel on staff tickets if I could  Big grin.

Anyway, as for your question. The upgrade policy for BA here in Boston is first to upgrade status Executive Club cardholders (Premier, Gold, and Silver) and any Emerald or Sapphire oneworld Alliance cardholders. After that we do any full-fare economy tickets (Y, B, or H), and then if we need to do even more after that it's either chosen randomly in the office or they leave it up to agent's discretion. The most common upgrades are from World Traveller (M class) to World Traveller Plus (W class). After that W to Club World (J). Very rarely does an oversell situation require upgrades from J to F. As customer service for a major Euro carrier, I can tell you the worst thing to do is ask for the upgrade at the counter. Also, although sly, if you're a good looking guy try to get a young female check-in agent or someone you might suspect to be gay. As superficial as it sounds, being a good-looking person will help you. And be very friendly. Chat up the agent. Don't overdo it. It's also about reading the agent. If they seem to be nice, make them laugh. Find some conversational piece just to make them, if only for that instant, have a connection with you.

Good luck and have a great trip.

LH423
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
 
delta-flyer
Posts: 2633
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2001 9:47 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:37 am

AAJAX .... They should have offered it to you with no additional deduction, as it was their fault and they could not accommodate you.

Well, yes, maybe .... but I didn't tell you the whole story, so here it is .....
There was some confusion about the cancelation. The DL flight was originally rescheduled to leave at 17:30 vs. 13:30, and I was to check in at 15:30 (instead of 11:30). So, with the extra time my Russian colleaugues took me sight-seeing, and I called DL at the airport around 13:45 to confirm the departure time. At that time, I was told the flight was canceled for today, and will operate tomorrow, and tomorrow's eastbound from NY will be also canceled. That's when they booked be on SU, which was to depart at 15:25, and my friends assured me they can get me to the airport in 30 minutes. I asked for business upgrade, and was promised it. However, traffic on the Leningradsky Prospekt was a mess, and I didn't get to the airport DL counter until about 14:55 -- by then, they had re-assigned my seat.

The DL agents spirited me through the baggage check, passport control, security, to the gate, and as we ran, my escort told me that the business seats were gone but they had put me into F. So, I was grateful for that. I also received ff miles as if it had been a DL flight, which helped me reach platinum level. (I boarded the plane at 15:20.)

In any event, I could have just as easily been denied boarding due to my late arrival, and there would not have been a seat on the next days' DL flight. Plus, weather-related delays don't merit any compensation. So, it turned out pretty well, all things considered.

Pete
"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"
 
KKMolokai
Posts: 741
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2000 2:06 am

RE: Upgrade At Check-in Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:39 am

AAJAXFlyer,

Indeed, we often comp upgrade our top-tier members when working an oversold flight. Also noted, we do try to "reward" our volunteers with comp upgrades when their seat is ultimately not needed.

I do disagree however (to an extent) with your comment regarding free upgrades for "no reason." Just this morning I upgraded a young couple who just got married last night, and were on their honeymoon trip. They didn't ask or expect to be upgraded, nor did they flaunt their new marriage. It was a full flight, and there were a few seats left in First - They were genuinely surprised by the upgrade.
We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
 
Guest

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:45 am

Newlyweds... I can understand that to an extent. Last time I saw this though was on board a flight and the flight attendants took them up to First Class after take-off (actually during the meal service, then they were served). Apparently some people got quite irate in coach, asking for employee numbers and names, and pretty soon the F/A who upgraded them had to ask them to please write a letter to the airline (it was American) in defense of her actions. I'm sure it works much better when handled by the counter agents.

I have seen numerous people outright ask for an upgrade and are given it, or they sit down in a relatively empty premium cabin during board and are allowed to stay there. I completely disagree with permitting that.
 
amhilde
Posts: 628
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2003 5:01 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:13 am

Ive been upgraded twice on VS- once from Economy to Upper Class and once from Economy to Premium Economy. Both of these came when I flew within 4 weeks of taking another VS flight ( im only a Silver in their FC). Both times it happened at the ticket counter when the checkin guy said he had an upgrade for me that evening blah blah blah. Quite nice i must say!
Hang on tightly, Let go lightly
 
KKMolokai
Posts: 741
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2000 2:06 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:41 am

AAJAXFlyer,

Flight Attendants (on AA) are NEVER supposed to upgrade anyone after boarding. All upgrades are handled by the gate agents (prior to departure) only. Also, gates agents provide the flight crew with a passenger count for all cabins, as well as a passenger manifest, so if someone is sitting in the wrong cabin, the flight attendants will know, and should enforce proper seating.
We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
 
phl27rphotog
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:31 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:58 am

On the return flight from LHR to PHL on BA 69 in July '99, I simply asked at the gate at LHR if they had any room in Business class. The agent took my boarding card, crossed off my Y class seat and wrote in a biz class seat. It turned out to be the right hand window first row, bulkhead! I've never had luck like that since. Although, I gave up my seat on a PHL-FLL flight on DL in Jan.2001. When I did get to ATL for the connection, they bumped me to first class on a 764 to FLL. I asked if I could go to the cockpit before departure, the FA said yes. The crew welcomed me in and told me to sit in the jump seat while they finished their checks. They then pulled up the full route on the screen and answered all my questions.
BillShullPhotography
 
Guest

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 9:05 am

Flight Attendants (on AA) are NEVER supposed to upgrade anyone after boarding. All upgrades are handled by the gate agents (prior to departure) only. Also, gates agents provide the flight crew with a passenger count for all cabins, as well as a passenger manifest, so if someone is sitting in the wrong cabin, the flight attendants will know, and should enforce proper seating.

I'm sure it's against the rules, but it does happen in practice, however illegal. The few times I've seen passengers give themselves upgrades, and they were not asked to leave, it was a flight without any service other than a beverage, and both cabins were about half full or less. Still doesn't make it right.... I've had other occasions where the flight was so empty everybody could fit in the First cabin, but thankfully the flight attendants didn't allow us all to move up there as they said it would not be proper due to paying First customers already in place.
 
744
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 9:21 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:14 am

I got upgraded at the check-in counter in Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines from KUL-LHR as they were not able to fulfil my special meal request for a vegeterian meal. They gave me option to fly on a later flight or a GCC uprgade. I opt for the 2nd option. I was happy as heaven. One of my dreams came true.
 
oznznut
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:04 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:24 am

Was flying on Qantas around the world Business Class ( I paid cash for the ticket, no miles,no company perks) and was upgraded to First, Lax-Akl flight 100. They kept calling me "Doctor". Initials are D R F. First name wasnt on ticket. Only two initials and Last name! Outstanding
 
VSGirl
Posts: 316
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:18 am

RE: Upgrade At Checkin Counter Experiences

Mon Feb 16, 2004 9:20 pm

The last two times I have flown British Airways I have been upgraded from Business to first. I always suggest smiling at the check in staff and being as nice as possible.

Kimberly.

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