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Travelers' Aid

December 4, 1999

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Have you ever been in a conversation where someone said something like, "Well, I was flying from Boston to D.C. and, luckily, I got upgraded." and then you smile or say, "That's great," without being sure of what an upgrade is? I mean, you always hear about other people getting them -- but that's about it. Well, simply put, an upgrade on an airline gets you out of coach and into business or first class. For some insight, I spoke with Ann Leonard of Inside Flyer Magazine. She just wrote on article on the subject.

If you're someone who doesn't fly 100,000 miles a year, then you're going to have to use your frequent flyer points -- and at this point you have to make a judgement call. For instance, let's say it's taken you a year to save 25,000 frequent flyer miles. An upgrade, on average, will cost you about 10,000 -- so, you'd probably be less likely to squander those away on an upgrade when those same 10,000 miles would help you get a free coach seat. But if you'd rather not fool around with miles, Bob Burg says go ahead and try to charm 'em. Bob's the author of Winning Without Intimidation. He says with the right attitude, you can shuck and jive your way into first class. You just need to follow a few simple rules.

You should also try Bob's techniques to get upgrades at hotels and car rental agencies. And if good ol' fashioned charm doesn't work at those places, there's still a way to get a deal. Hotel chains and auto rental places usually have their own version of "frequent flyer" programs. Or you might just luck into it, a hotel might upgrade you because the class of room you reserved isn't available -- there's also a pretty good chance of talking your way into a nicer room without paying for it if you check in late at night. It's not very likely that the hotel will be renting the room out to anyone else that night -- so why not you? Just follow Bob's rules -- smile and ask the clerk nicely. Car rental upgrades on the other hand have more to do with luck. When I was in France a few weeks ago I had reserved a dinky stick-shift Renault to shuttle me around, but when I got there the agency didn't have any in, so they upgraded me to a Mercedes -- and I didn't even have to pay extra.

Savvy Resources for Upgrades:

  • We spoke with Ann Leonard at Inside Flyer Magazine. She recently wrote an article on how to get an upgrade. Inside Flyer has some more helpful tips on their website, at www.webflyer.com.

  • Bob Burg has charmed his way into quite a few upgrades -- and he says that you can too. Bob is the author of Winning Without Intimidation. To find out more about him and his publications -- go to www.burg.com.


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