Flying first class is a luxury that not many can afford. Sure, you can try to charm yourself into an upgrade, but that seems like something that only works in the movies, right?
According to British author Tilly Bagshawe, there are just two little words that can get you upgraded to first class in a snap. Bagshawe flies around 100,000 miles a year, so she knows her way around the airline business.
Bagshawe shared with Bloomberg that she has never paid for an upgrade and instead calls reservations and mentions “revenue management.” That’s because these two words indicate a little-known department at airlines responsible for making a flight profitable. When you drop this term, you look like an insider.
Bagshawe explains to Bloomberg exactly what to say to get a free upgrade using this term.
“Say to the agent: ‘Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?’ When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left. Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold? Why aren’t you releasing them?’ Often by the end of the conversation they say, ‘OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow. Doing that, we’ve had a pretty much 100 percent success rate.”
Her method certainly sounds more reliable than trying to tell the agent it’s your birthday or honeymoon. However, it may not be the best trick in the book for your average customer. Being a frequent flyer like Bagshawe and having enough miles to make the upgrade a reality are key.
Also, this little trick may not work every time, as some experts pointed out.
“Asking a reservations agent to check with the airline’s Revenue Management department will probably result in the agent muting her line while she laughs at the request,” aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt told Business Insider. “Very few airlines allow their reservations agents to either contact Revenue Management or queue a reservation to that department for upgrades.”
If you don’t think this method will work for you, there are some other tips and tricks out there. Dressing the part, being on time and working with a travel agent can all increase your odds. Another idea is to volunteer your seat if the flight is oversold on the condition that you’ll be upgraded on the next flight.