How to buy a business class upgrade at the airport

Written by carol luther
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Business class seats are more comfortable and they come with perks that coach class seats do not have. You can nab a business class seat by upgrading your coach ticket at the airport for much less cash than the actual price. An upgrade can cost as little as £32 or several hundred dollars, depending on the airline and seat availability. There are a few things you need to know if you want to ride in comfort of business class on your next trip.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Full fare coach ticket
  • Credit card or frequent flyer miles

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  1. 1

    Review fare rules before purchasing your coach ticket. Almost all airlines exclude business and first class upgrades from their discounted and sale fares. Once you have purchased a discounted coach ticket, you cannot upgrade it.

  2. 2

    Check blackout dates and exceptions for full fare coach tickets. On heavily travelled routes and routes with seasonal fare fluctuations, you may not be able to upgrade to business class on certain dates, such as major holidays.

  3. 3

    Review your selected airline’s business class upgrade policies. Some limit upgrades to member of their frequent flyer club, even if passengers are buying the upgrade instead of using accumulated miles. One of the rewards for mileage club members is upgrade priority.

  4. 4

    Check the business class capacity of the scheduled equipment on your preferred flight against the seats sold. Larger aircraft often have more seats available. Less popular flight times may offer greater opportunities.

  5. 5

    Arrive at the airport early. Check in at the counter for most airlines to get on the upgrade standby list. You will not pay for your business class upgrade until your airline confirms the seat at the gate.

  6. 6

    Request upgrade at the check-in kiosks for several airline. United's kiosks randomly offer upgrades to business class to passengers using their check-in kiosks. However, you can also request the upgrade.

  7. 7

    Buy a business class upgrade with frequent flyer miles or with a credit card. The airline will tell you at the time of request, how many miles they require from you or how much your upgrade will cost. Delta uses a mileage formula for upgrades, £32 per 500 miles increments. AirTran's fees vary according to distance travelled as well.

  8. 8

    Proceed to the gate for last minute upgrades. Wait until departure gate personnel confirm your seat change. Pay for your upgraded seat at the departure gate.

Tips and warnings

  • Most airlines still have free or discounted drinks in business class. The snacks in business class are better. Business class passengers also have boarding priority.

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