I will be flying Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur in September, on the first Monday of school holidays. Is there any way to score an upgrade to business? I am not a member of any airline's frequent flyer program. What is the best method for asking for an upgrade at check-in? Thanks, Upgrade Newbie
We're not going to sugar-coat this: the odds of your scoring an upgrade in this instance are really low. If you check through our list of the top 10 ways of scoring an upgrade, you'll notice that you're not ticking any of the boxes. You're not a regular flyer, you're not a member of the airline's frequent flyer scheme, and you're travelling during a busy period. When it comes to scoring an upgrade, you'll be behind people who have used their points to score an upgrade and multiple tiers of frequent flyers. Malaysia Airlines is now part of the oneworld frequent flyer alliance, which also includes Qantas, so you're competing with a very large pool of Australian passengers. Quite honestly, I don't think it's going to happen.
So what can you do? Firstly, sign up for the airline's own Enrich frequent flyer scheme. (Under most circumstances, I'd suggest using Qantas instead, since you're more likely to score domestic points with them, but in this case we'll focus on your target airline.) If nothing else, that puts you on the road for more status when you fly with them again, and makes you marginally distinguishable from other one-time flyers.
Secondly, show up at the airport on time (that is, three hours ahead of check-in) and ask nicely. Good manners are the key to an upgrade. I don't want to raise your hopes unduly -- I really can't imagine an upgrade happening under these circumstances -- but your best hope is a charming manner. That said, you should ask directly rather than through a long-winded tale: check-in processes are busy enough that subtlety won't work. Good luck!
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.