How to get free travel upgrades

February 28, 2011 9:12:07 AM PST
Did you ever wonder how the people you see sitting in first class on a plane or staying in fine hotels swing the deals that put them there?

Stephanie Oswald of TravelGirl Magazine says they may not be spending any more money than you are -- they're just taking advantage of available perks or upgrades.

"To me, an upgrade is any perk that saves you money or improves your travel experience," she explains.

Oswald says first thing you should do is join every travel rewards club you can -- even if you think you'll never get enough points to reap those rewards.

never say never -- so never think that you're not going to make enought points to reach teh elit status.

Oswald explains, "You should always take the time to sign up for a program, fill out the form. The points add up faster than you might think."

She also says to check your credit cards to see if charging will earn you additional hotel nights, miles, or even things like free airline baggage checks.

And she says it pays to stay organized by keeping all your reward account numbers in one accessible document and -- if you use someone to book your travel -- make sure you share those numbers with them.

Also, if you don't get upgrades when you book, don't be afraid to try for one once you get to your destination.

"Depending on the season and depending on how busy the hotel is, if they have an extra room that is upgrade-available, just because they want to give you a better experience," Oswald explains. "The better experience you have, the more likely you are to tell your friends."

She also suggests maximizing your use of the hotel concierge.

"The concierge is very under-utilized. People think they're only good for last-minute dinner reservations or theater tickets, but the reality is that if you call them ahead of time, they can help you plan your trip."

But, even if you didn't do it ahead of time, and wait until you get there, if you book a dinner through a concierge, sometimes you'll get surprised with desssert for free at the end of your meal or maybe a bottle of wine delivered to your table because your concierge recommended you."