Top Tips on upgrades

  • Check if the airline you are using offers airport Upgrades (cash or points) as these are very worth it being last minute.
  • Some airlines let you bid for Upgrades. You wont know till you get an email, but when you do, go for it.
  • Apps and websites ( now allow you to bid for Upgrades.
  • Call me a dinosaur, but I always find booking from an airline website better than going to aggregators.
  • Failing all this, check out

I have been a frequent traveller for many years and as usual try to focus my travel with one airline. Living in Singapore, I obviously flew Singapore Airlines most often and have been a Solitaire passenger on their Krisflyer frequent flyer program for many years. That also comes with Star Alliance Gold status, which is very helpful.

Last Minute upgrades on Singapore Airlines – insist on Saver if a seat is free

I would often use points to upgrade to business on Singapore Airlines when I was feeling lazy on work trips to Hong Kong that were just below the 4 hour company business limit. Like all airlines, Singapore Air has a quota for upgrades and often, despite Solitaire status, one doesn’t get it. Once at checkin I found seats were going empty, so asked for the upgrade, the staff called Krisflyer who said OK, but would charge Business Standard (twice the points of Saver). I insisted on Saver and they agreed. From them on, I always tried this and it worked.

Qatar, Vietnam & Air India upgrades

Two years ago when on a family safari to Kenya, we first flew Qatar Airways and loved it, so now whenever we fly long distance and are paying, we use them. It was also my entry to the Oneworld alliance. Having accumulated enough miles, on a personal trip to London last year, I sought an Upgrade to business on the economy ticket I bought. I was told no seats available, but soon after that got an email offering me an Upgrade to business on the Singapore-Doha leg for U$700, a great deal that I took. Looking at their website, I found they offered an airport Upgrade using points, and I was able to use that on the Doha-London leg.

Late in 2015, I was flying from Singapore to Hanoi and at the airport found an Upgrade cost just U$50 and took it both ways. It is a great airline, with modern planes, excellent crew & service. I also joined Skyteam, the third airline alliance.

On Air India, my first experience of this was at checkin in Singapore enroute to Delhi with my wife. The staff didn’t suggest it, but I saw a plackard on the counter on this and asked about it. It cost U$375 and we bought it. Now, it is down to U$300, as I discovered (and used!) last week from Delhi. The payment process though is a pain, and took 30 minutes in Singapore and in Delhi.

The latest thing – Bidding for Upgrades on Airline & third party sites

On a recent family holiday to Mauritius, after booking economy tickets for the long 7 hour flight, I got an email inviting me to bid for Upgrades on the return leg, specifying a minimum/ maximum. I bid midway at U$700 and got it. Air Mauritius also offers airport Upgrades that cost U$700 for Singapore-Mauritius.

Others who offer bidding include American/ Singapore/ Malaysian/ Sri Lankan /Austrian/ South African Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Aer Lingus, Etihad, Virgin Australia & America, Air Berlin, Air New Zealand, Air China, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa. Many of these are supported by so checking their website will tell you which ones they work with.

Besides airlines prompting us (or we prompting them if they offer it), there also are external websites like (for international airlines) & (Canada) that allow us to bid, so try them. But check your ticket conditions before hitting buy as many are not eligible for upgrades.

Basically, the world has changed and we have many upgrade choices

Airlines are focusing on filling up empty seats and it’s a win-win for both us and them. So besides dressing up and being charming (always a must!), watch out for airport upgrades and bidding. Happy Business Class flying (at a Premium Economy or less) price!