How To Get an Airline Upgrade on Your Flight

A free airline upgrade to business class or first class is the holy grail for many travellers. We all want to buy a dirt-cheap discount economy ticket and then get ourselves upgraded or ‘bumped up’ into a premium class. After all, who doesn’t want the free airport lounge access, flat seats and superior VIP service both on board and on the ground.

Thse days unfortunately, operational upgrades (“op-ups”) for the average passenger are a rarity – the reality is you have only a very very limited chance of getting one. That said, here are a few basic tips and strategies for slightly increasing your likelihood of getting that airline upgrade…

Mechanics of Operational Upgrades

Firstly you should understand what happens with respect to an oversold cabin situation. Airlines routinely oversell seats on flights in order to maximise revenue. No-shows will tend to balance out the oversold seats but on occasion there will be more passengers than seats.

For example, consider an aircraft with a seating configuration of 280-40-8 in economy, business and first class, respectively. Say the airline has actually sold 307-18-5 tickets and all the passengers check-in – the cabin seat assignments then need to be re-jigged.

Effectively we have 3 vacant first class seats and 22 vacant business class seats – plus 27 oversold economy passengers. The solution is to upgrade 3 business class passengers to first class which leaves 25 open seats in business. These can then be filled by upgrading 25 passengers from the oversold economy cabin. 2 economy passengers will be asked to voluntarily take a later flight and should receive some compensation to sweeten the deal.

Obviously this is a simplified example as in a busy hub airport with many connecting passengers the precise numbers can be more fluid with no-shows and late arrivals.

So how does the airline decide which passengers to upgrade? The standard order for processing operational upgrades will be something like this:

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How To Get Airport Lounge Access

There are numerous ways available for getting airport lounge access, even if you are not travelling business class or holding elite status. In this detailed guide we show you the various options worldwide at your disposal.

Lounges can be a welcome haven for the traveller at a busy airport. They can provide an array of facilities depending on their quality. You can find comfortable seating, drinks and light snacks, newspapers and magazines, showers, computer terminals and WiFi internet. At the top-end you could get full service à-la-carte dining, private day rooms and spa facilites.

Airport lounge access comes as standard for those travelling in the premium classes or those holding mid-tier or top-tier frequent flyer status. First class airline lounges have the very best facilities, whilst business class lounges from major airlines are usually well-appointed. At the lower end of the scale, third party contract lounges tend to be more basic and their quality can be variable. However we are seeing a trend of growth in the premium independent lounge sector.

Some of the world’s best airport lounges include Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal at Frankfurt, the Qantas International First Lounges at Sydney and Melbourne, Thai Airways Royal First Lounge & Spa in Bangkok and the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai.

Some airport lounges can have a large floor area with many different sections. On entering a new lounge you should walk around and orientate yourself to the various facilities available.

Note, there can be occasions when staying in the lounge is actually inferior to the standard airport areas. For example, the lounge could be (1) dark or windowless, (2) have a poor range of (unhealthy) snacks, (3) have a bad coffee machine or (4) be very busy.

Lastly, don’t forget arrivals lounges at your destination – find out if your airline/alliance offers arrival lounge access where you can freshen up and take a shower – this is particularly good after a long flight.

Airport lounge access included

Flying premium – by flying first or business class you should get complimentary one-time access to the airline’s lounge or that of an alliance partner. Arrive early to make full use of the lounge facilities.

Elite status – There are 3 main airline alliance groups – Oneworld, Skyteam and Star Alliance. Elite passengers travelling in any class on their airline alliance should be able to get lounge access. At some larger airports there may be multiple alliance lounges available to visit. Get to know which lounges suit your needs – for example one could have better food on offer whilst another could have a nicer ambience or faster Internet.

Paid for Lounge Access

There are various ways of buying your way into an airport lounge even if you are not flying business or first class. Options includes purchasing one-time single access, joining an airline club or becoming a member of a lounge program such as Priority Pass.

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How To Stay Healthy on Your Long-Haul Flight

Taking a long-haul flight is perhaps not the most healthy of activities. Think about it – there you are sitting in a cramped metal tube with hundreds of other passengers whilst suspended some thirty thousand feet in the air breathing semi-recirculated air. You are exposed to an atmosphere of low oxygen and humidity and are at increased risk from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.

On top of this you can spend hours not moving at all whilst consuming an unhealthy cocktail of processed food, alcohol, caffeine and sugar. And as you pass through multiple time zones your body clock is turned upside down…

In this article we give some tips to help keep you in better shape when flying long-haul and perhaps reduce your risk of falling ill during travel.

Preparation: Booking your flight

Airliners can cruise at altitudes significantly higher than the summit of Mount Everest. The further you climb the lower the atmospheric air pressure. This means that aircraft cabins need to be pressurised – not to ground level but usually at an altitude equivalent range of between 5,000 and 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400m).

The latest generation of aircraft – Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 have cabin pressure altitudes at the lower end of that scale. If available on your flight route then consider flying on one of these new aircraft types. They have considerably quieter engines and many passengers feel more comfortable on board.

When searching for flights think about travelling at the most convenient time possible  – 4am departures or arrivals can be very tiring indeed.

If you can afford it or have a stash of frequent flier miles then flying first or business class will give you more comfort and space on a long flight. However some premium travellers have an attitude to gorge on food and alcohol to “maximise” the experience!

Before flying

The key to staying healthy throughout your trip is to support your immune system with a healthy diet, exercise and high quality supplements before you travel. Consider taking a combination such as a multi-supplement + fish oil + immune booster which we have personally had very good results with in helping keep colds at bay on long flights.

Stay well hydrated in the 2 days prior to travel by drinking plenty of water.

Always try to get a good night’s sleep the day before you fly. At bedtime put a drop of lavender oil on your temple or pillow which may help you relax.

You should also get some exercise before a long flight, preferably outdoors rather than in the gym. Go for a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine which will give your vitamin D levels a boost.

In the hours leading up to the flight choose a moment to get your online check-in done and select your seat. You may want to research the best seat options for your class of travel.

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Which airlines accept Paypal payments for flights?

Over the last years Paypal has firmly established itself as a mainstream online payment provider with millions of users worldwide. An increasing number of international airlines allow Paypal to be used for flight payments.

Be aware that some airlines can have various restrictions – a Paypal payment option may only be available for residents of certain countries. Sometimes only flights priced in specific currencies may be available for Paypal purchase.

When paying by Paypal do check the payment fee that the airline charges – compare this with other forms of payment that may be available. Using Paypal it is possible to make the payment via a credit card, debit card, bank transfer or using any positive balance in your account.

Finally, consider that paying by credit card directly (not via Paypal) in many countries will offer you a far higher degree of consumer protection should the airline go bankrupt. For example, in the UK paying by credit card for goods priced £100 to £30,000 makes the retailer and card company jointly liable.

Paypal Airlines List 2015

At AirTravelGenius.com we’ve published the Paypal list annually since 2008. The latest list is updated for 2015 and has now reached 42 airlines – listed below in alphabetical order:

01. Air Asia (Malaysia)
02. Air China (China)
03. Alitalia (Italy)
04. American Airlines (USA)
05. British Airways (UK)
06. Brussels Airlines (Belgium)
07. Cebu Pacific Air (Philippines)
08. China Airlines (Taiwan)
09. China Eastern Airlines (China)
10. China Southern Airlines (China)
11. Delta Airlines (USA)
12. El Al (Israel)
13. Emirates (UAE)
14. Etihad (UAE)
15. Flybe (UK)
16. Germanwings (Germany)
17. GOL Airlines (Brazil)
18. Hainan Airlines (China)
19. Iberia (Spain)
20. Jet 2 (UK)
21. JetBlue (USA)
22. Jetstar (Australia)
23. KLM (Netherlands)
24. LAN (Chile)
25. LOT Polish Airlines (Poland)
26. Lufthansa (Germany)
27. Malaysia Airlines (Malaysia)
28. Monarch Airlines (UK)
29. Qatar Airways (Qatar)
30. Royal Jordanian (Jordan)
31. Ryanair (Ireland)
32. South African Airways (South Africa)
33. Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
34. Southwest Airlines (USA)
35. TAP Portugal (Portugal)
36. Transavia (Netherlands)
37. United Airlines (USA)
38. US Airways (USA)
39. Vietnam Airlines (Vietnam)
40. Virgin Australia (Australia)
41. Volaris (Mexico)
42. Vueling (Spain)

Restrictions: Air Asia – direct debit in AUD only; American Airlines – USA/Canada/UK only; Delta Airlines – USA only; Emirates – AUD/EUR/GBP/USD only; Jet 2 – GBP/EUR only; KLM – klm.com for Canada/Mexico/USA only, KLM mobile site available in 30 countries; Malaysia Airlines – only on MHmobile site in MYR/NZD/EUR/AUD/HKD/SGD/JPY/GBP/USD; Monarch Airlines – GBP/EUR only; South African Airways - travel must originate from Australia/Brazil/Europe/New Zealand/UK/ USA.

Most of the major airlines in the US and Europe are now taking Paypal payments.  Major travel agent sites such as Hotwire can also accept Paypal for flight bookings. Use of Paypal by Middle-Eastern and Asian airlines is also slowly growing.

In Australia we note the continued absence of Qantas. However, Australian travel agents Webjet, Jetabroad and Flight Centre have long accepted Paypal for domestic and international flight bookings.

If you know of any other airline that we may have missed please drop us a line!