How to… Upgrade your travel experience

Julia Broome, product manager at dnata Travel, gives us the inside track on some of the most frequently asked questions about travel

If I book trip at the last minute, am I likely to get a better deal?

It depends on how flexible you’re willing to be. Availability will always naturally be pressed closer to the time of travel and popular resorts, flights and tours, for instance, more likely to be occupied. Overall, it’s typically more cost effective to book in advance. If you are flexible, you may be able to secure a last-minute deal to more of an off-the-beaten-track destination. Instead of travelling to France, for example, try an up-and-coming destination in Eastern Europe. Or you could travel at an off-peak time. 

Is there anything I can do to boost my chance of a flight upgrade without having to pay for it?

Joining frequent flyer programmes is the best way. Each airline has a different upgrade process, however, for the majority, passengers that reach the highest tier of the loyalty programme are more likely to be upgraded if the flight is overbooked. Seasoned travellers and members of such programmes will know that dressing appropriately, and checking in later, can sometimes provide a better opportunity for an upgrade, depending on availability. Travelling solo and without excessive luggage can also work in your favour, but nothing is ever guaranteed.

If I want a room upgrade, is it best to negotiate before I arrive or once I’m there?

Join hotel brand loyalty programmes to experience additional benefits during your stay including potential room upgrades. If you have a particular room or suite in mind, it’s always best to book in advance. You are less likely to be upgraded if you have booked the lowest tier of room, or if you are looking to stay for a significant period of time. 

What are the key times of year to keep an eye open for the best holiday deals?

Hotels and airlines can have sales at any time of year. In the lead up to public holidays, long weekends and school breaks, we will start to promote our best deals in advance so always look out for this. If you’re able to be flexible, we’d recommend booking your holiday at off-peak times or the days directly before or after these holidays commence. 

When I’m booking through a travel agent, are the prices I see negotiable?

You have to be able to be flexible. Cheaper sale airfares are restricted to certain dates, for example. One of the best reasons to book via a travel agent is that they can help you to customise your trip to achieve the best price possible. If you are open to taking a travel agent’s advice, they have the knowledge and skills to find you the best prices depending on variables such as times, locations, flight duration, group versus smaller tours and the like, so can find the best solution for you. 

Can I get a better price for paying in full at time of booking?

Some hotels and resorts offer the ability to pay a deposit and then the full amount at the time of departure. When accommodation or airlines have special rates on, you typically have to pay in full at the time of booking, but you can benefit from cheaper rates. Hotels can offer cheaper prices on a non-refundable basis so again it all depends on how set you are on your chosen holiday or how flexible you want to be.