Sign Up for That Frequent Flyer Program for Free Seat Upgrades

biz class

So you’ve accrued your credit card points and now plan to transfer them to a certain airline to get a free trip. Sounds great!

Though maybe you don’t want to use ALL your miles to book a first or business class flight, but still want the possibility of getting upgraded.

This is a pretty common scenario, and one many individuals are willing to risk to conserve miles and potentially avoid flying the dreaded coach.

An Easy Way to Boost Your Chances

Ultimately, airlines award available business and first class seats to their more prized passengers, including elite flyers and those who are part of their frequent flyer program.

However, just because you booked a flight via miles doesn’t mean you’re a frequent flyer with the airline because of code sharing.

For example, if you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines and book a flight to Europe, there’s a good chance you won’t be flying United at all.

Instead, you might be on Air Canada or Turkish Airlines or any other number of international carriers.

Now if you book your ticket in business or first class you don’t need to worry about signing up for the airline’s frequent flyer program.

After all, you’ve got guaranteed good seats, so an upgrade isn’t necessary, nor are any of the other perks that come with being a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program.

Conversely, if you decide to book a coach ticket, you should absolutely sign up for the airline’s frequent flyer program right away.

Simply put, doing so will move you ahead of all the other passengers on your flight that aren’t part of the not-so-exclusive club.

I say not exclusive because all you have to do is go to the airline’s website and sign up for their free program. It takes a few minutes to get issued a frequent flyer account.

Once you’ve done that you can add your existing flight to the account and enjoy some perks like priority boarding and gain more information about your flight. Maybe even more seat choices.

You’ve Been Upgraded

But that’s not the main reason to sign up – you’re signing up to jump ahead in the line of potential upgrade nominees.

On a recent flight in Europe, I got upgraded for the simple fact that I signed up for Turkish Airlines’ Miles & Smiles frequent flyer program.

The flight was pretty packed but very few people opted to pay for the more expensive cabins.

When I checked in at the airport the clerk asked if I was part of the program. I said yes and when I got to the terminal, lo and behold, I was upgraded to a giant seat in their business class.

Had I not bothered signing up I would have been stuffed in the back, flying coach and being generally miserable.

The moral of the story is to take the few minutes it requires to sign up for frequent flyer programs.

Sure, you might get some annoying marketing e-mails, but you can always opt out of those and enjoy the many benefits that come with being part of the club.

Read more: How to get the Citi Prestige Card for free!

Author: Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.