a bar in a plane

Saying revenue management will never get you an upgrade, but having miles and asking if upgrades are available time and time again, will.

I’ve already proven this is almost entirely untrue. But for less than about 5,000 people, sure, there’s a minuscule shred of possibility that saying “revenue management” could help your chances. To be one of those 5,000 or so people you need to: fly over 250,000 miles a year with the same airline, spend more than $60,000 a year with one airline and hold a top elite flying status. Even then you’d still need miles to actually upgrade with, you’d need a lot of them and they’d still have to say “yes”. And since you can’t actually speak to revenue management, that’s difficult.  Of course, this is something the original article failed to mention entirely. In most cases, if you want an upgrade you don’t even have to call at all!

a bar in a planeHere’s What You’re Getting Wrong

People are saying “oh, I called about upgrades and they had them available, this trick may be true”. You don’t need to say revenue management for that to happen – ever, and you shouldn’t. Airlines regularly make seats available for upgrade using points and it has nothing to do with two words. There’s a department at airlines called revenue management who take upgrades away and add them hourly. Every day. They don’t really take requests. It’s based on math, not being a self entitled passenger.

Don’t Bother Calling At All…

You can even look online, and not bother calling at all with most airlines. If you want to upgrade, simply look online with your airline for seats using miles in the cabin you want to upgrade to. To do this you’d click “book with miles” instead of cash or “using points” – something like that. IF seats are available on your date and flight in the cabin you want to upgrade to (not the one you’re presently in), you can often use points to upgrade your cash ticket. Saying revenue management doesn’t EVER get you the upgrade, looking for upgrades does. You’d need at least 20,000 miles each way per person to upgrade a long haul flight. Upgrades are either available or they are not – and saying the words makes you look like a jerk.

Revenue Management Does Not Speak To Customers

Here’s the other funny thing. Revenue management does not speak to customers. In very, very rare circumstances, a phone agent MAY (on like 3 airlines) indulge your request to ask if opening up upgrades is possible. If they do indulge, they under very strict circumstances may be allowed to email revenue management and ask. Revenue managers often take multiple days to respond to these requests. Here’s the kicker.

Here’s The Kicker

Revenue management can’t just hold an upgrade for YOU personally. They can (days later) release an upgrade, but REAL savvy travelers who regularly look online or call in asking if any upgrades are available will likely snag it, before you even know it exists. The most effective way to get upgrades is to pay $9.99 a month to set unlimited upgrade alerts using ExpertFlyer. You can cancel at any time. The service monitors for seats released for upgrade, and if one becomes available – you get an email. Quickly call in or book your upgrade online. That’s assuming you have enough points, of course!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. I lost you a bit here. You mean that only 5,000 people in this world fly 150K airline miles and spend $25K in airfare? If that’s the case, I know 50 of those 5,000 people.

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