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Travel Tips

Last Minute Airline Upgrades on Longer Flights
By:Richard Chapo

Flying is a necessary evil if you want to get from one place to another. The level of evil you must submit to, however, is directly proportional to the class of seating you have. First class seating on a long flight is simply heaven on earth.

First class. Ah.... People feeding you grapes and fanning you with big palm leaves. Okay, maybe not. Still first class is where you find seats made for the human body and stewardesses that don't act like French waiters. On a long flight, first class is where you want to be.

Make no mistake, flying these days is nearly as calming as a trip to the dentist. You don't want to go, but you know there is no avoiding it. From long security checks to late takeoffs to outright flight cancellations, it is enough to make anyone crabby.

As with many bad situations, there can be a silver lining found in the current joke that is known as the airline industry. What is it? The last minute upgrade. It is the stuff of legend and luxury. Pull it off and you will become that annoying person at the party that just can't shut up as you tell friends over and over how you flew back from some destination in the lap of luxury.

So, how exactly do you get a last minute upgrade? Simple. You ask for it. On domestic flights, your chances depend on the flight. Is it late at night, a full plane and so on? In general, you can expect to pull it off maybe 20 percent of the time. That 20 percent, however, will be well worth your effort.

On international flights, the stakes are higher. You are going to sit on a plane for 8 to 25 hours depending on where you are going. The difference between sitting with the heard or riding in first class is extreme. Well, you will be happy to learn it is easier to upgrade to first class. For some reason, first class is rarely filled unless it is a major city to major city flight such as New York to New York. Even then, you have a good chance.

So, what are examples of such upgrades? Here are a few I've pulled off. $75 to upgrade to first class on a flight from Paris to Los Angeles. $56 for Bangkok to Los Angeles, which is a very long flight with a stop in Japan. $90 for San Francisco to Seoul, Korea. $35 from Costa Rica to Houston.

Can you do this? Yes. Almost nobody asks for upgrades at the gate. The worst that can happen is they say no. The best is you are eating grapes in first class with a breeze from the palm leaves moving through you hair!

Rick Chapo writes for Nomad Journals - makers of travel writing journals that make great unique Christmas gifts for him and her. http://www.nomadjournals.com/journals.cfm

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