For decades, elite-level business travelers came to expect free upgrades to first or business class as part of their birthright. But in today’s changing environment, they often have to decide in advance whether they want to spend some money to guarantee a seat in a front cabin, or take their chances on getting a space available upgrade.
The New York Times took a look at the changing upgrade scene, and concluded that “the perks of being a frequent flyer are not as valuable as they once were.”
The report noted that airlines are finding new ways to gain some revenue from unsold front-cabin seats instead of just giving them away. Increasingly common tactics include pre-departure offers of low-priced upgrades; taking bids for unsold premium seats; and cutting fares for front-cabin seats in order to boost sales.
The newspaper interviewed a number of frequent travelers who bemoaned the changes and the new pre-departure calculations they must make in order to achieve the comfort level they want.
For example, should you just go ahead and buy that JetBlue Mint seat between California and NYC for $699, or pay United or Delta or American $499 for an economy seat and hope for the best? (Or pay just $399 each way for Mint seats on JetBlue’s new LAX-Ft Lauderdale flights!)
The NYT article also said that the airlines’ new strategies seem to be working, citing Delta’s prediction earlier this year that the percentage of paying passengers in its first class seats will increase from a little more than 50 percent in 2015 to 70 percent by 2018.
What about you, readers? What’s the best deal you’ve taken for an upgrade recently? What’s the most you’d pay for a transcon upgrade? Please leave your comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon