1. Join a frequent flyer program (if you haven’t, don’t bother reading the rest).
2. Coordinate your miles across similar airlines (e.g. airlines with Star Alliance). Be loyal to 1 or 2 airlines and please allow the miles to pile up.
3. Always log your miles (provide your frequent flyer number at reservation or check-in. Most airlines will also allow you to log your miles shortly after your trip)
4. Monitor times online when you can use miles for upgrades. Sign up for email updates. Take advantage of promo offers. Negotiate with the airline.
5. Buy your tickets early (I book 6- 11 months in advance). The earlier, the cheaper. Always book return flights, avoid the temptation of booking one-way.
6. Inform the airline of all your preferences. Use your miles only for long hauls.
7. Best time to ask for an upgrade is at check-in. Negotiate to get a cheaper price for an upgrade and if you can’t afford it, don’t beg.
Ask nicely: “Pls if you are upgrading passengers on this flight, I would like to be considered.” Be courteous to airline staff. Smile. Travel during peak times, if the flight has too many passengers, chances are people will be moved up.
8. If it is your anniversary or graduation let the airline know, you just might get bumped up. Also, if you have an impressive title, (e.g. Prof., Amb., Barr., Dr.,) use it.
9. Don’t get to the airport late. Don’t book special meals. Don’t dress too casual (a poorly dressed person will not be upgraded). Don’t travel as a group. Don’t carry 4 pieces of hand luggage.
10. Always check SeatGuru.com for best seats. It’s free.
Credit: Jake Okechukwu Effoduh