According to British author Tilly Bagshawe, all it takes is two words: “revenue management”.
Bagshawe told Bloomberg that she’s “never bought an upper-class seat”, and that she’s “used miles to upgrade from economy.”
“If you want to do that,” she explained, “call reservations and drop the name ‘revenue management’.”
Apparently, the power lies with revenue management, as “they’re the ones telling [reservation agents] what they can say; they’re like Flying Club’s boss.”
“Not everyone knows that this department exists,” Bagshawe said, “and by mentioning it you reveal yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how seats are released.”
Bagshawe recommends that you say to the agent, “Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?”
“When they say no,” Bagshawe said, “ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left. Politely respond like this: ‘You have 20 seats unsold? Why aren’t you releasing them?’”
Bagshawe claims she’s had “a pretty much 100 percent success rate” using this method.