The simplest and most effective way to upgrade any plane ticket is to use airline miles. Some airlines (Example: Singapore Airlines) only allow you to jump one cabin, while others, such as Virgin Atlantic, will allow you to go all the way from economy to First class. An upgrade to a destination such as New York will generally cost between 50,000 – 80,000 airline miles each way.
And for the pessimists out there, airline miles are surprisingly easy to collect, even without flying. Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and others allow you to earn points for any shopping via their retail and F&B partners.
Some airlines use upgrade system called PlusGrade to offer upgrade auctions. Customers on airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay Pacific and many more allow you to bid for the luxury life up front. Simply login to your booking online and look for an offer to bid on an upgrade. If you can’t find it, simply google: “(Your Airline Name Upgrade Auction)”.
It’s important to keep a level head while participating in these auctions, since winning bids can occasionally exceed the price of just paying for business class from the start. Nonetheless they offer great value. Other airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates are known to flash upgrade offers in their mobile app. After making a booking, remain on the lookout for exclusives upgrade offers, some of which can be very attractive. We were recently offered a $400 one-way upgrade from Economy to Business class with Qatar on a flight from Singapore to Barcelona.
Some Airlines business class flash sales. The very best flash sales are almost never officially announced, last mere hours and are gone before many travellers have had a moment to glance at their computer. Qatar Airways sold S$3,200 return business class seats from Singapore to Amsterdam earlier this year.