Travel expert shares exact time to check in to get hotel or airport upgrade

Getting upgraded on a trip can be down to luck, but there are some things you can try.

With spring in the air, many people are embarking on Easter getaways or booking trips for the summer.

And to give their trip the added wow factor, savvy sunseekers might be looking for ways to get an upgrade.

Some people may feel a bit awkward or embarrassed about trying to negotiate an upgrade on a flight or hotel room – perhaps if they’ve never tried it before, and don’t know where to start.

While there are no guarantees you’ll be successful, Julian House, managing director of, has some tips that might help…

Frequent flyer? Consider become a member

It may be worth becoming a member of their frequent flyer scheme

Many of us have hardly traveled since the pandemic struck, but if you’re planning to fly more regularly with a single airline, it may be worth becoming a member of their frequent flyer scheme.

House says: “This way, you will build up air miles to reach a higher status in the scheme. Then, when it comes to upgrades, you’ll be at the front of the line as a frequent flyer.”

2. Not a frequent flyer yourself? Travel with someone who is

House says: “If you can, coordinate your travel plans with a colleague, friend or partner who has a high status with an airline’s frequent flyer scheme.” You might be able to reap some of the benefits, as “you’ll also be listed on the itinerary”.

Consider volunteering to take a later flight

If your flight has been oversold and the airline is offering compensation to those who are willing to take a later flight, House suggests you could consider volunteering if it means getting an upgrade – although this will depend on how much it disrupts your holiday plans.

He says: “An airline might be hesitant to offer too much monetary compensation, whereas an upgraded seat might be an easier perk to negotiate.”

The Civil Aviation Authority has tips for travelers on their rights – including if a flight is delayed or canceled – on its website (

Arrive later at your hotel

House says: “If you don’t check in until later in the day, you might just arrive after the hotel has run out of standard rooms. In this scenario, the hotel’s only other option is to put you in a higher-quality room. It’s a shot in the dark, but could just work.”

Loyalty to a particular hotel or chain may pay

Consider volunteering for a later flight

“Just like signing up to an airline’s frequent flyer scheme, hotels are more likely to reward loyal customers,” House adds.

He says it’s “worth signing up” to one of their schemes, as “a hotel will have more interest in upgrading a regular visitor to a nicer room, rather than a random customer”.

Be polite to staff

House says: “If there’s an issue with your current room, being polite to the hotel staff will likely go a long way.

“Let’s be real, while the issue might be super annoying, it’s not the receptionist’s fault. If you’re polite, sincere and understanding in your approach, the staff will feel more inclined to upgrade your room.”

Celebrate something?

If you’re celebrating an engagement, wedding, marriage anniversary or birthday, House suggests: “Make sure everyone and their dog knows about it, from those you’re booking your flights with to your hotel.

“You may just get a celebratory freebie along the way to sweeten your break.”

Be wise about complaining

If you’ve had a bad experience, make sure you’re complaining to a member of staff who has the authority to do something about it. They may not agree with your requests and suggestions, but communicating clearly might help them to understand the situation from your perspective.

House says: “By discreetly and politely bringing the issue to the attention of those who may be able to help you, you may just get a move.”

Dress for the occasion

House recommends complying with any dress codes if you’re hoping to be upgraded, adding: “If you look the part and act the part, you’ll find your requests are dealt with accordingly.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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