Some folks find air travel to be a bit of a chore. In many cases, seats are too stiff, legroom is scant, and you might have to fight for an armrest.
Seat upgrades can help a lot, but many people worry about the expense. However, some lucky travelers get free upgrades — and you can be among them.
If you're trying to step up your travel game, check out these things you can do to get a nicer, plusher seat without breaking the bank.
If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources
Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.
How to become a member today:
- Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
- Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
- Start enjoying your discounts and perks!
An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.
Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.
Use airline credit card perks
Most major airlines also offer their own credit card, allowing users to rack up airline rewards that can sometimes be used for free seat upgrades.
If you use your airline credit card to pay for groceries, gas, clothing, and more, you might be able to travel first class using credit card points without spending additional money.
Volunteer for seat changes
There are a variety of scenarios in which a flight attendant might ask someone to volunteer to switch their seat. Perhaps a family wants to sit together, or a couple doesn't want to be separated.
Some people are irritated by such requests, but others view them as opportunities for a free upgrade. In many situations, the flight attendants may bump you up a class or two as a thank you.
Remain flexible with your flight schedule
Similarly, if you’re willing to be flexible about when you depart, you might be able to snag a better seat. Many airlines overbook their flights to ensure that every seat is full. However, this can backfire, resulting in an overbooked plane.
If this happens on your flight, the gate attendant might ask someone to volunteer to give up their seat on the plane. They may offer to reschedule your flight, offering a free future ticket — and possibly a nicer seat on your next flight.
Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card
There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.
If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.
The best part? There's no annual fee.
Book emptier flights
Free upgrades often come down to luck and circumstance. However, there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor.
For example, you’re more likely to get bumped up on an emptier flight. If the plane is completely full, upgrades simply won’t be an option. However, if there’s some wiggle room, you may get lucky and earn a gratis upgrade.
Get to your gate early
Another way to increase the chances of getting a nicer seat is to get to your gate early.
Once the gate agent knows how many people will actually be on the flight, they can start calculating how many passengers can get free upgrades.
Getting to the gate ahead of everyone else might boost your odds of scoring the upgrade.
Befriend the gate agent
It never hurts to chat with the gate agent. While many people think it’s the flight attendants who bump you up, they might not have the authority to change your ticket or seat in all situations.
So, getting to know your gate agent a bit before boarding might offer you better odds of getting a freebie.
Use social media
Don’t overlook the power of social media when it comes to getting sweet deals, discounts, and even flight upgrades.
For example, Virgin Atlantic hosted a social media competition where travelers were asked to share their best requests. The most creative entry earned upgrades on their ticket.
Make the most of loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to get discounted or free flights, in-flight luxuries such as complimentary drinks, and free upgrades.
Not all loyalty programs have upgrades available, but some prioritize them. For example, American Airlines’ AAdvantage program offers automatic complimentary upgrades to status members when such opportunities are available.
Finally, consider simply asking the gate agent if any upgrades are available and if you can receive them. The worst they can do is say “no,” and they just might agree to the request.
So, if you want to save money on travel by getting a free upgrade instead of paying for one, remember that it never hurts to ask.
Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account
Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1
With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!
This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.
Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.
While none of the above methods guarantees a seat upgrade, they certainly don’t hurt your odds of landing such a freebie.
At the end of the day, some strategic planning and a friendly attitude can go a long way toward getting you a nicer seat while also allowing you to keep more money in your wallet.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
- Apply Now
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
- If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
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- This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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