Britons are too 'scared' to ask for an upgrade to better flight seat or a nicer hotel room, a new survey has found.
A poll by online travel agent sunshine.co.uk
found that around half of those who did have the courage to request an upgrade were successful.
A total of 77 per cent of those asked said they had not asked for a free upgrade before a flight or at their hotel. Of these, 61 per cent admitted they were too scared to ask and 27 per cent believed it 'wouldn't work'.
As many as 49 per cent of the 23 per cent who did ask for an upgrade were lucky and got a better hotel room.
The survey revealed that 11 per cent who asked for an upgrade on their last holiday said they lied or complained to help their case, and 24 per cent tried to slip a staff member money to get what they wanted.
A total of 2,109 British tourists who had been on holiday abroad in the past 12 months were surveyed.
Co-founder of sunshine.co.uk Chris Clarkson said: 'You really have nothing to lose by asking for an upgrade. The worst they can say is no, after all.
'If hotels have premium rooms empty, many would often be more than happy to move you to a better room for no extra cost.
'Getting better seats on a flight is much tougher. But as they say - if you don't ask, you don't get.'
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Want to know how to get a free flight upgrade? Read our tips below...
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- Join an airline loyalty programme
Keep your eye on the prize: <b>elite status</b>. Airlines will give priority for upgrades to top-tier members. Pick an airline and stick to it. If you are a regular customer you are more likely to get those three coveted letters: <b>SFU</b> (Suitable For Upgrade) next to your name on the passenger list. Also, there are often rewards for accumulating miles quickly (usually over one calendar year) and different "perks" are awarded each time you hit a certain mileage tier.</p>
- Choose your carrier carefully
Points systems are not born equal. For example, with <b><a href="http://www.aircanada.com/en/home.html" target="_blank">Air Canada</a></b>, you can only use points for complete bookings in economy or business and cannot use points to upgrade from an economy ticket. If booking on <b><a href="http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/home/au/en" target="_blank">Qantas</a></b>, you can buy an upgradeable economy ticket and request for an upgrade to premium economy or business. <b><a href="http://www.britishairways.com/travel/globalgateway.jsp/global/public/en_" target="_blank">British Airways</a></b>, on the other hand, makes it nearly impossible for those who fly economy short-haul flights to ever earn enough points to make it to the next level.</p>
- Travel alone
Obviously, this might not be possible! But it's worth bearing in mind that if you are travelling as part of a small group, an airline may not be able to upgrade everyone and, therefore, won't upgrade anyone at all.</p>
- Check in late
Checking in late means the economy seats are likely to have been filled, meaning you may get booked directly to business class. This is a very risky strategy, of course, as you chance not being able to get a good seat in economy, or getting split up from your travel partner.</p>
- Be plane picky
Pick a flight that will be using a plane with a large first class cabin. You can find out this information from sites like <b><a href="http://www.seatguru.com/" target="_blank">Seat Guru</a></b>.</p>
- Volunteer to give up your seat
Have time to spare? Every so often an airline will oversell the flight and will need volunteers to give up their seat. If you don't mind the delay, you can score a flight voucher and/or a free upgrade certificate (they've done this before on <b><a href="http://www.cathaypacific.com/cpa/en_INTL/homepage" target="_blank">Cathay Pacific</a></b>), and, before long, could find yourself happily snoozing in first class.</p>
- Pay full fare
If you purchased a full fare ticket and travel on an oversold flight, then you also have more potential for a courtesy upgrade.</p>
- Look smart
This won't be the reason why you get an upgrade, but not being dressed suitably could be why you don't. Take Victoria Beckham - we reckon she's never travelled economy in her life.</p>
- Charm your way
Once upon a time, being nice could result in someone at the check-in counter upgrading your seat. Nowadays, stories like that seem more like an urban myth. It may be rare, but it has worked in the past. When experiencing an airline issue, if you ask to speak to management and you articulate yourself in a professional, calm yet confident manner, you can find that you can get a free upgrade (if not this flight, perhaps another for another time) or other perks like free lounge access.</p>
- Marry a flight attendant or pilot
Practicality aside, if all else fails, this is a surefire way of increasing your upgrade odds. Knowing someone working for the airline definitely helps. Even if you can't get an upgrade for free, as family, you can purchase discounted business class tickets.</p>
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