How to Get Free Honeymoon Upgrades

How to Get Free Honeymoon Upgrades

PHOTO BY LAUREN FAIR PHOTOGRAPHY 

So you're still on a high from your wedding and are ready to get whisked off to your honeymoon. Wondering how to make your dream vacation even better? Make your getaway one for the books by snagging honeymoon freebies and upgrades throughout. Fortunately, traveling in luxury doesn't have to mean shelling out a fortune or having elite status with an airline. Your newlywed status is more than enough to get you some perks!

"Always make sure it's known it's a honeymoon even if [companies] don't ask for the occasion," says Addie Bell, founder of luxury travel agency Jetset & Travel. According to Bell, the easiest way to get extra perks is to work with a travel agent. "Working with an advisor who knows about your trip and can VIP you is preferred. That way you don't have to VIP yourself and you have a better chance for an upgrade," she says. So if you and your partner prefer having someone else take care of planning the trip for you, ask your agent, who has working relationships with airlines and accommodations, to scout for upgrades on your behalf.

Meet the Expert

Addie Bell is a travel advisor and founder of luxury travel agency Jetset & Travel.

If you're crafting your own itinerary and plan to book everything yourself, no problem! There are still many ways to increase the odds of getting an upgrade or two. Whether it's taking advantage of rewards programs, utilizing the power of social media, or asking outright, here is the ultimate guide to honeymoon upgrades for every part of your vacation.

Flights

Share Your Good News at Check-In

"It helps to speak with the representative at the flight desk before the flight to ask for empty seats next to you and inform them it's your honeymoon," says Bell. Think about it: if the gate agent has to pick someone to be bumped to first class on an overcrowded flight, a newlywed couple will stand out, especially if they're glowing and grinning from ear to ear. "They do have a lot of control and it does happen!" she says. So hit pause on checking in online for some face time with the flight desk. Sometimes, the answer to how to get upgraded to first class on your honeymoon is as simple as making it known you're newlyweds at check-in.

If you're told there aren't any available seats, don't give up just yet. You can check back late in the boarding process. If the agent realizes the flight is oversold, or if a business class passenger is a no-show, seats may become available. Being well-dressed will also help your chances of moving on up. Gate agents will be looking for passengers who will fit in with the first-class crowd, so looking put together will improve your odds of a random upgrade.

Use Points From Your Credit Cards

The best way to score an upgrade without having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars is to use credit card points. Many cards reward you with points for every dollar you spend; once you accumulate enough points, you can transfer them to the airline frequent flier account of your choice and use them to "buy" an upgrade (note: generally, you'll still need to pay for taxes).

One of the best cards for travelers is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with two times the points on travel, and 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. With your wedding bills, you can easily hit the minimum, collect the points, and use them to score an upgrade (or even pay for a full business-class ticket) that'll have you traveling to your honeymoon in style.

Buy at Check-In

Airlines are keen on earning revenue from business and first-class upgrades. That's good news if your plan is to try to score an upgrade with cash. Many airlines will offer you the chance to purchase an upgrade at check-in, often at a price much lower than what you would pay originally. This is especially likely on empty flights, so aim for flights in off-season and weekends when there are fewer business travelers.

Bid for a Better Seat

Several airlines, including Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Airberlin, Air New Zealand, KLM, Lufthansa, and Etihad offer passengers the chance to bid on a seat upgrade. Some airlines operate the auction directly while others use a site called Plusgrade. Most airlines send an email if your flight is open for bidding, though not all flights are eligible. The bid is on top of the fare and there's usually a minimum bid. Don't worry, your card will only charged if your bid is selected. The bidding amount is usually half to one-third of the cost of buying the upgrade outright—definitely a steal.

Hone Your Frequent Flier Status

Sometimes when flights are full, gate agents need to upgrade passengers from Economy to Business in order to free up seats for additional passengers. Most of the time, they're going to choose frequent fliers of the airline. "The airlines have become stricter with the upgrade options these days and they favor members in their own programs that are frequent fliers," says Bell. Stick to one airline and fly with them as much as possible, advises Bell, to get that frequent flier status stat.

Volunteer Your Seat and Switch to Another Flight

If you can afford to delay your trip even for just a few hours, consider volunteering your seat on an oversold flight and ask for an upgrade on the alternate flight. Sometimes gate agents are desperate for a volunteer that they're willing to sweeten the deal for you. You can walk away with an upgraded ticket for another flight and a voucher for future travel with the airline. Just be sure to get details on the alternate flight and exactly what sort of compensation the airline is offering before you commit.

If your airline experience is a complete fail, the customer service agent may be authorized to offer an upgrade as compensation for the inconvenience, especially if you have a strong enough horror story. Just remember to be polite when making your complaint.

Accommodations

Call the Hotel When Making Reservations

As much as possible, avoid booking your hotel through travel sites or the hotel website. Call the hotel and tell the concierge on the phone what the occasion is and just how excited you are to be celebrating your recent nuptials at the hotel! The concierge will make a note and, you never know, you could just be gifted perks because of it. Flowers, chocolates, champagne, complimentary dinner, or a room upgrade are just some of the possibilities!

Utilize Social Media

If you're snapping pics of your honeymoon, make sure you tag the hotel on social media (and use the hotel's hashtags!). You could catch the eye of the hotel's social media manager and be given a sweet treat to make your stay more special. So hit up the 'gram, tag the hotel, and share pics of your amazing #honeymoongoals vacation!

Choose Hotels With Rewards Programs

Some wedding venues offer complimentary hotel stays as part of the wedding package. If you don't want to spend extra on your honeymoon accommodations and love your wedding reception venue anyway, ask about hotel packages that include complimentary nights when booking before your wedding.

Just Ask Earnestly

If you show up to the hotel all excited and share your good news, just ask politely if there's a chance to get a room upgrade to make your honeymoon more special. The hotel concierge would be happy to make your stay extra special whenever possible. An earnest request might just get you a suite with a view!

The hotel concierge is a treasure trove of knowledge from great restaurants to must-try activities. Befriend the concierge for help in booking hard-to-get reservations, tips, and maybe even comps when possible.

Meals

Make Dinner Reservations at the Hotel

The more you book activities at the hotel, the more chances that you'll get upgraded. Always book through the concierge and ask if they have anything special to make your celebration even sweeter. Chances are, if the concierge sees you're spending a lot at the hotel, you'll be given special treatment. You could even end up with a gorgeous private table set up on the beach!

Mention the Occasion When Making Reservations

As with your accommodations, it's best to call the restaurant when making dinner reservations instead of hopping online. Mention that you're celebrating your honeymoon and the restaurant may arrange a special romantic table just for you, arrange a special menu, or give you complimentary glasses of champagne for toasting your honeymoon!

Mention Your Honeymoon Again When You Get There

Whether it's to the concierge or your server, make sure to drop the H-word. You could also straight up ask, "Are there any special treats for honeymooners?" Of course, an earnest ask goes a long way. Even if it isn't protocol, a kind server or concierge may just send you a complimentary plate of dessert.

Activities

Book Activities in Advance

Call as much as possible and mention your honeymoon on the phone when making reservations. This holds true for both activities at the hotel and other travel activities like tours and other experiences. If you're joining a tour, mention that you're on your honeymoon, or if you're booking a couple's massage at the hotel, be sure to tell the concierge and the receptionist at the spa that you're celebrating your honeymoon! This gives people ample time to prepare a potential treat or factor you in when making tour plans.

Make a Honeymoon Registry

List some honeymoon activities as part of your wedding registry to spend less on your travels. "What I have seen lately is the registry gives guests an option to pay for activities on the honeymoon and essentially it's just cash they can use for the big trip!" says Bell. You can either list down the amounts you need for each activity (flight, accommodations, etc.) for people to donate or include links for guests to book parts of your honeymoon itinerary themselves.

Flaunt Your Newlywed Status

As a general tip, you can just outright ask if companies can offer anything special for those on their honeymoon. They could have a special package, better seats, or could ask management if they can accommodate a treat just for you. If you're polite and unassuming, businesses would be happy to help you.

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