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Tricks To Scoring Travel Upgrades – For Free

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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(credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Whether it’s the annual trip to see family, or the vacation of a lifetime, millions of people will travel over the holidays. Just because your ticket says ‘coach’, doesn’t mean you can’t travel in style.

“A lot of travelers think that upgrades are for VIPs or celebrities,” explained Anne Banas of SmarterTravel.com. “The truth is average travelers can get upgrades for airfare, hotel and even car rentals if the know where to look,” she said.

AIR TRAVEL

When it comes to air travel, you need to look at the kind of coach ticket you are buying. Some qualify for upgrades, some don’t.

Saturday is the best day to ask for an upgrade. The airlines tend to reward their best customers first, which usually include business travelers. They are least likely to be traveling on weekends.

You also want to keep your eye out for new routes. “A lot of people don’t know about (them) yet and that can be an optimum time to get up to the front of the cabin,” Banas said.

You can also simply ask nicely. It worked for Jeffrey Ward on a recent trip to South Africa. “The agent said, ‘Well Mr. Ward there are no upgrades for sale today, but we’re pleased to offer you a complimentary upgrade,’” he said.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

HOTEL ROOMS

Hotels are also willing to upgrade travelers if they have extra rooms available. Kim Orlando with TravelingMom.com says it can be a great strategy when you’re celebrating a special occasion.

“When you are on a family vacation it can be a little more difficult. So leave the kids in the car or just tell them, shhhhhh,” she said. A late check in can increase your odds of getting an upgrade; that’s when hotels know which rooms are still available.

CAR RENTALS

There are also upgrades available from car rental companies. According to Banas, it’s all about supply and demand.

“So if you book, say an economy class car, there’s actually a great chance that you will be upgraded because a lot of those lower mileage cars are in high demand,” she said.

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