One of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time was Wee Willie Keeler, who introduced the ‘hit and run’ play to the game when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. It was his 44-game hitting streak that Joe DiMaggio broke. It was his record of 8 consecutive seasons with 200 hits or more than Ichiro Suzuki broke.
His batting advice was simple: “Keep your eye clear, and hit ’em where they ain’t.”
That’s also some of the best advice for upgrades. Pay attention, and travel where and when other travelers ain’t.
- Whether you want an upgrade on a flight or at a hotel, you’re looking for a seat or room that would otherwise go unsold.
- So you want to avoid paying customers, and where there’s the most competition for upgrades.
At hotels, the keys are:
Two Bedroom Villa at the Conrad Koh Samui
For airlines, the keys are:
American Airlines Domestic First Class
One clue for both airlines and hotels is price. When a hotel’s price is high, it’s likely in high demand and therefore full. When it’s selling at a discount that doesn’t just mean you can get a deal, it means you’re more likely to get both a deal and an upgrade.
The same is true for airlines’ US domestic flights. When a flight is cheap close to departure there’s a good chance upgrades will be easier to come by as well.
Internationally though what you want to check is the spread between economy and business class fares. During the holidays economy often gets more expensive while business class gets cheaper. That’s because business travelers aren’t filling the forward cabins, but leisure travelers are packing in the back. Upgrades are more likely, but it’s also a time when it may even be worth coming out of pocket — where paid business class may be a few hundred dollars more than coach, rather than quadruple or quintuple the price. The absence of long haul business travelers over the past two years doesn’t really change this.
If you’re positioning for an upgrade you’ll still need a justification for it — status, or spending miles or other instruments — but this can make those strategies more likely to succeed.
Traveling where and when they ain’t can help you get both a good deal and make an upgrade more likely. It can improve your travel batting average, and land you in the frequent flyer hall of fame…