Choose a Wide-Body Plane
If you hold elite status and are looking to get upgraded, your best chance is to choose a wide-body plane, which will have a much larger first or business class section than narrow-body planes.
For example, my dad and I flew LAX to Miami on American Airlines (AA) two weeks ago. Most of AA’s planes on this route are narrow bodies, like 737s, 757s or A321s, but when I booked our tickets, I looked at all the planes and noticed that they also fly a few wide bodies. There was a 777-200, which has 37 business class seats—many more than a 737, which has 16. They even had a 777-300 with 44 business class seats and much nicer premium seats, but unfortunately the flight time was too early in the morning for my dad.
Bottom line: Because I booked us on a wide-body plane, we both got upgraded. I got upgraded for free (thanks to my Executive Platinum Status) and my dad got upgraded for $150 using my status and my upgrade certificates.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.