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Consumer

Travel Upgrades Easier Than You Might Think

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Need to get away? Just because you booked a ticket in coach doesn’t mean you can’t fly to first class.

CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports that, from airline tickets to hotels to car rentals, there are ways to help yourself score an upgrade without forking out more cash.

“My favorite places are southern Africa, Argentina, and I absolutely love Paris, France,” Jeffrey Ward said.

He doesn’t just love to travel, he also loves to land travel upgrades.

“Average travelers can get upgrades for airfare, hotel and even car rentals if they know where to look,” Anne Banas of smartertravel.com said.

The best day for upgrades is Saturday, according to Banas. That’s when fewer “elite” travelers hit the skies.

Or, try your luck during the off-season.

“A lot of times, airlines will announce new routes. A lot of people don’t know about it yet and that can be an optimum time to get up to the front of the cabin,” Banas said.

Or you can shop around for deals and promotions.

“Look online and sign up for each airline’s individual newsletter,” Banas said.

Asking nicely might do the trick on international flights. It worked for Ward on a recent trip to South Africa.

“The agent said, well Mr. Ward, there are no upgrades for sale today, but we’re pleased to offer you a complimentary upgrade,” Ward said.

At hotels, asking for an upgrade can work, especially if you’re celebrating a wedding or birthday.

Or you can try a late check-in. That’s when hotels know which rooms are still available.

On the road, car rentals are determined by supply and demand.

“If you book, say, an economy class car, there’s actually a great chance that you will be upgraded because a lot of those lower mileage cars are in high demand,” Banas said.

Joining loyalty programs can also pay off off.

“Because most of them are free to enter anyway, free to become a member of, and they don’t expire,” Kim Orlando of travelingmom.com said.

Ward is a member of several loyalty programs and has fond memories of his airline upgrade.

“I felt pretty darn special,” Ward said.

Orlando said loyalty programs also are the best way to sail to an upgrade on cruises.

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