Readers Share: “How I Charmed My Way To A Free Upgrade” Wander Wonder

For most of us regular folks, exorbitantly priced business-class tickets and hotel suites are merely what sweet dreams are made of. But what if we told you it actually isn’t that difficult to get bumped up for free? All you need are clever strategising, good manners, and a bit (okay,  maybe a lot) of luck! Here, seven readers share their tricks.

Look And Sound Polished

“Travelling alone always gives me a jolt of courage, which I conveniently used to get a free room upgrade when I was sent to Taiwan last year for a short business trip! I was supposed to meet a client right after I checked in at the hotel, but since I was early, I decided to try my luck with one of the front-desk clerks. Putting my A1-Mandarin to excellent use (and not forgetting good manners, of course), I asked the clerk if she could so kindly upgrade my room to one on a higher level – and she did!” – Karen Tan

It’s All About That Space

“I was having a horrible migraine. When I checked in at the airport, I told the airline staff I badly needed a row of empty seats so I could sleep. I wasn’t expecting a favourable response, to be honest, so you can imagine my surprise when the staff said she would make sure I got what I requested for.” – Prakash Nair

Full flight,  crying babies,  cramped space and a crippling migraine - not the best combination.

Full flight, crying babies, cramped space and a crippling migraine – not the best combination.

Volunteer For Less

“I was about to check in at the airport when I heard an announcement about bad weather. It was about 10pm then. As I was checking in, I told the airline staff that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to stay another night in Singapore if the weather proved too dangerous for the pilot to fly. She appeared shocked at my comment, but assured me they would make the necessary flight changes if notified. While she was processing my details, I overheard her saying something about an overbooking in the economy class. Next thing I knew, she told me, ‘Ma’am, I will give you a complimentary upgrade to business-class.’ How lucky I was!” – Tina Johnson


Always be on time, though.

Just Married

“My girlfriend and I had heard about this less-than-honourable trick before, but we could never bring ourselves to try it … until a month ago in Bali. Hand in hand, we happily told the front-desk clerk that it was our honeymoon when we checked in at the hotel. Immediately, he congratulated us (I know, we’re horrible) and upgraded our room to the honeymoon suite for free! Wearing couple T-shirts probably helped, too.” – Keith Leow

Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve

“I was told my flight to Italy was overbooked and that I could only depart a day later – which meant I would have to miss the start of my pre-booked tour and, instead, make my way to the next destination on the itinerary on my own. I was genuinely devastated when I got the phonecall. I started crying as I explained to the airline staff how important the trip was to me – I was going through a painful heartbreak at the time and the vacation was a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. Thankfully, the staff managed to put me on a flight to Bangkok in Thailand, which has a connecting flight to Italy. Not only did I arrive just in time for my tour, I didn’t have to pay a single cent for the last-minute flight arrangements.” – Felicia Chia

There is hope in humanity,  after all.

There is hope in humanity, after all.

Happy Birthday!

“When you book directly through the hotel website, mention that it’s your partner’s birthday. If you’re lucky, you could get bumped up to a nicer room or even a fancy suite. No such luck? Well, you’ll get a free slice of cake at the very least!” – Timothy Teo

A Winning Combination

“Over my years of travelling, I’ve gathered that your chances of getting bumped up are higher if you make the booking directly with the hotel, not via a third-party booking site. Most recently, I travelled to Singapore for the first time for my son’s wedding. I stayed in three different hotels, all of which were booked directly through the hotel websites while I was still in Belgium. I think what sealed the deal was my mention of my son’s wedding and that it was my first visit to Singapore – all three hotels gave me either a special rate or a free upgrade!” – Rita Vermote

With wanderlust flowing in her veins, Lili has always had grand dreams of travelling the world, escaping to exotic locales and experiencing different cultures. Whenever Life gets too much for her, she reaches straight for her earphones to tune out the world. More than just a temporary distraction, music has a profound way of taking her to places that stir the soul.

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