How to get an upgrade

Lady in airport looking at flight board

Ask – and you just might receive

The free upgrade is every business traveller’s idea of nirvana! But as more people travel for business, and leisure, they seem harder to come by. However there are a few things you can do to put yourself in the best position to score some awesome perks.

The upgrade basics

Firstly, a few unwritten rules that can increase your chances of getting an upgrade. They may seem obvious to business travellers, but let’s cover them off anyway. 

  • Dress well and look like you deserve an upgrade. When travelling for business the chances are you already look the part, but if you’re in a more casual industry – then you might want to think again. A blazer or jacket, smart accessories and a professional appearance can go a long way.
  • Be unfailingly polite. Don’t step up and demand an upgrade because you’re a regular flyer or guest. Be confident in asking, but do it with a smile and a bit of empathy for the often very busy check-in staff.

The plane upgrade

  • Airlines look after their loyal frequent flyers first. They’re the airlines’ ‘bread and butter’ and business people are a very important market for them. So join their loyalty program and don’t be afraid to mention your membership, or your special tier status. 
  • Arrive early and ask the attendants at the gate if an upgrade is possible – before they get busy and harassed by other passengers.
  • No luck so far? There’s one more chance of scoring an upgrade after you board the aircraft. Examine your allocated seat as soon as you seat down. Check that it reclines, it’s clean and the entertainment sockets are functioning? If anything is faulty, dirty or not working, ask to be moved and you just might land an upgrade.
The hotel upgrade
  • If you’re staying for an extended period of time, use that as a bargaining chip to ask for a larger room, a balcony or a view. Say something like – “I’ll be working from my room a lot, so could you possibly upgrade me to a suite, a quiet room (away from stairs and elevators) or a higher floor (away from street noise). Or say – ‘Do you have anything else available, as I’m going to be here for the whole week – so is an upgrade possible?”
  • Join the hotel's loyalty program and flash your membership when you check-in. You may qualify for other perks you aren’t aware of, such as free Wi-Fi, late check out or a complimentary drink at the hotel bar.
  • If you’re really feeling cheeky you can mention to the front desk staff that you're celebrating a special occasion and hope for an upgrade! A birthday maybe, or if your partner is accompanying you on a work trip – it could be your anniversary! 
The vehicle upgrade

These are generally harder to come by, but you never know. 

  • If the rental company doesn’t have the vehicle you specifically booked, make a small (but polite) fuss and you might be upgraded as consolation for the inconvenience.
  • Join the rental company loyalty programs – you can then earn points, get perks like express check out, or the ability to bypass the check-in desk altogether.
  • If your booking is for an extended period, ask for a long-term rental rate or discount – or an upgrade to make your journey more comfortable.
  • If you get a sense that it’s a slow car rental day and there are lots of rental vehicles in the lot, you can try your luck and just ask for an upgrade.
The ‘having the right connections’ upgrade

A bit shy about angling for an upgrade? Having a well-connected travel manager is the answer. At Stage and Screen we’ve negotiated the best perks and bonuses from our suppliers, so all our travellers feel like VIPs. From extras including automatic upgrades, to free parking, complimentary breakfasts, late check-out, discount airport lounge memberships, additional luggage allowances and a reduced daily excess on car rental.

Want a little extra when you travel? Ask your Account or Travel Manager about our Stage Extras suite, SartFLY Program and Entertainment Rates.