5 Tips to Upgrade Your Travel Experience

When traveling, an upgrade can be the difference between cramped legs, a creaky bed, and fighting for the armrest or gourmet meal and ocean views. Before you attempt to bribe the bellboy, consider these 10 expert travel tips.

1. Memberships have their perks

Various airlines, credit card companies and hotel chains have loyalty, partner and reward programs that can yield discounts or upgrades on everything from rental cars to spa services. For example, Tablet Hotels TabletPlus program provides members with a complimentary upgrade at check-in and best available rate at the time of booking. If you’re in the mood to travel but not particularly tied to any one place or hotel, check out Living Social destination deals, or Gilt’s Jetsetter deals for savings on travel packages around the world. These packages often come with a bottle of wine or spa voucher to make your stay that much sweeter.

2. Fly with flexibility

Spontaneous First-class upgrades are hard to get these days, but you can up your chances by flying on midday or late-evening flights that are more likely to have empty seats. Try flying on an actual holiday as well, as most people will be flying in the day before, and always dress the part. For more information about how your particular airline works, including insider tops, check FrequentFlier.com.

3. Be nice (you’ll get more)

Some hospitality industries have regulations that prevent staff members from offering upgrades without approval. Additionally, no one likes to feel used, and many employees are wary of travelers who are only trying to sweet talk their way to an upgrade. Be genuinely polite and go out of your way to be helpful. A good tip is to simply ask if there are any opportunities for a higher-class room. If you happen to be celebrating an anniversary or birthday, be sure to mention this. It may get you everything from better seats to nicer accommodations to flowers or dessert at dinner.

4. Become a regular at your favorite haunts

It's easier for staff to upgrade an individual who is only staying for one or two nights than it is for them to upgrade an individual who is staying for a week. If you plan to visit the same area repeatedly, book the same accommodations. You may get to know the staff, which can lead to upgrades when you return for future visits. If you are a frequent visitor, book your room with directly with the hotel and mention your repeat visits. Make sure to check deals online first, however, to be sure the deal you are being offered is one!

5. Flex Your Social Power

In today’s increasingly digital world, feedback about hotels left on blogs, review sites, Twitter and Facebook all count. If you boast a nice social media following, contact the general manager at your hotel and ask for some more information about the hotel. Inquire about any opportunities for you to experience the best of the hotel, with the goal of writing a review, or sharing your experience through your social channels.

Finally, never underestimate the power of a smile and a general enthusiasm. Airports and hotels are not the easiest places to work in, and communicating your delight and appreciation can go a long way toward a surprise upgrade.