The Two Words That Will Help Get an Airline Upgrade Over the Phone

2 minute read | 3/7/19March 7, 2019

A frequent flyer has revealed the two words she claims help her get a free upgrade every time but does the trick actually work?

First-Class Virgin Atlantic  |  S. Brouard/Flickr

The more we dive into learning the best tips and tricks for traveling well, the more we realize there’s an endless amount of information to learn.

Bloomberg Pursuits publishes an ongoing series of interviews with globe-trotters in all of their fields – travel, food, wine, fashion, cash, real estate –to share some of the best and lesser-known hacks, tips, and off-the-wall experiences.

So, when they interviewed Tilly Bagshawe, a British writer who frequently travels, for insight into how she’s able to secure an upper-class seat so often with Virgin Atlantic, we were surprised by her answer.

The Insider's Secret

Turns out, Tilly’s insider secret is using just two little words to score an upgrade with miles.

“We have never bought an upper-class seat; if ever we’ve flown anywhere up front, we’ve used miles to upgrade from economy. If you want to do that, call reservations and say two little words…”

“Revenue management.”

How It Works

Not everyone knows that this department exists, so by mentioning it, you’re sending a message to your reservation agent that you know how the system works and understand how seats on an airplane are released.

Bagshawe suggests asking the agent, ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’

If they say no, ask to be transferred to revenue management so you can ask when those seats will be released, along with how many seats are still on the flight.

Once you have that information, say ‘You have 20 seats unsold, why aren’t you releasing them?’

Bagshawe says that by going through this process, she’s able to regularly upgrade her seat with miles at “pretty much 100 percent success rate.”

Can you really score an upgrade by using just two little words?

Since we haven’t tried this for ourselves yet, the verdict’s still out on whether or not it works for us personally, but one thing is for sure – we’ll be trying with fingers crossed in the near future.

Bagshawe goes on in the article to reveal other hacks and tips for traveling, such as:

  • The oh-so-British practice she uses to ease her nerves while flying
  • How she avoids bruises on old-fashioned train rides in Asia and Europe
  • How to properly pack fragrances, without being worried about breaking the bottle
  • The one thing she’s obsessed with collecting from every country she visits

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