Is it just me or does it seem like everybody but you always gets upgraded on a flight or when checking into a hotel? Now don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in you get what you pay for. I came upon the topic of upgrades when I was doing some general research on travel habits. The idea about travel upgrades came to me after reading an article in a very popular travel magazine (whom shall remain nameless because they really do great articles generally).
I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
Travel Upgrade Tips That I Would Not Advise
The article in question started off innocently enough by describing how, if you followed the author’s advice, your chances of getting upgraded would improve dramatically. It was more the advice itself that shocked me. Here was a very reputable author, a regular contributor to this well respected magazine, coaching me on how to lie to get an airline or hotel upgrade.
I don’t want to dwell on the article itself here (again, the purpose of my article is not to slam the author or the magazine). But some of the tips included telling the airline agent that you had an important meeting that you needed to prepare for, thereby needing a lot of elbow room and maybe fibbing to the hotel front desk clerk that you had an important anniversary and could they help by upgrading your room. While I admit these fibs won’t necessarily send you to hell in a handbasket, it’s the outward promotion of lying that stuck with me.
Meeting and Event Planners Are the Epitome of Frequent Travelers
I reached out to some of my colleagues after reading the article about travel upgrades and asked them how they went about getting upgrades, honestly. While the common thread was that there is no magic pill, there were a few areas where my colleagues agreed.
Appearance. People that book business or first class seats on an airplane, usually do so for one main reason. They like peace and quiet. Whether it’s so they can mentally prepare for a business meeting or whether they just want to relax, usually the business section of an aircraft is quieter. If an airline is in a position where they need additional coach seating, they do look at a person’s appearance. It’s not that they are profiling by any means. They are just looking for someone that can respect fellow travelers. The same goes for a hotel upgrade. They want to be sure that the person they are placing in a suite will respect that room accordingly.
Brand Loyalty. We all know American Express’s popular phrase “membership has its privileges”. If you do a fair amount of traveling, it is in your better interest to find the brand that best suits your travel needs. Most brands have loyalty programs. Whether it’s in airline or hotel, if there’s an upgrade required they will most likely pick someone that has been loyal to them.
Integrity. This is a very hard one and a very easy one all at the same time. The easy part of integrity is to say: just be yourself. The hard part is trying to teach someone integrity. If you have to teach it, chances are the person doesn’t have it. When interacting with employees of airlines or hotels, genuinely show concern and interact with them accordingly. It will pay off tenfold.
As the saying goes: you can tell someone’s personality by the way they treat their waiter. I can’t tell you the number of times I have used that analogy to determine whether or not the person I was with was genuine. The same can be said of travelers seeking upgrades. If you’re making up lies and over-the-top excuses of why you deserve an upgrade then chances are you won’t get the upgrade. A smile can go a long way.