Once you’ve picked a flight, choosing your cabin is the next important choice. In this article, I talk about my process for picking a cabin.
One of the biggest issues carriers have is the diversity of their fleet. BA, for example, operate Boeing 777 in multiple variants, Boeing 787 in multiple variants, Airbus A350 and Airbus A380 for their long-haul operations.
Having multiple different planes in their fleet means that the cabins on those planes can be inconsistent. That is a factor when picking not only the carrier but the cabin you want to fly for a particular trip too.
If you know a certain route is operated by a certain type of plane, that may sway your decision on which cabin to pick. I must say though, that planning a trip based on aircraft type is risky. Airlines do not guarantee which aircraft will operate a particular route. Fleet operations are simply too fluid to be able to do that.
I usually pick my cabin based on two factors. Firstly, is an upgrade possible at the time of booking? If it is, I’ll book straight into the preferred cabin (Business Class). Secondly, if I cannot book into Business at the point of purchase, do I think it’s likely that a reward seat will open up? If I deem it to be likely, I’ll make sure I am in a position to upgrade. If I think it’s unlikely, I will just book whatever ticket makes sense for the budget.
This is one of the biggest factors for me.
The upgrade game is won when you book the ticket, not when you get upgraded.
To make sure you have a chance at either booking a reward seat, or upgrading from a cash ticket. You need to ensure the following:
- You book the right ticket type. Not all tickets allow for upgrades. Check with the airline when you book to make sure the ticket can be upgraded with points. If you get this bit wrong, it’s game over.
- On British Airways, most Economy tickets except the lowest priced can be upgraded. All Premium Economy fares can be upgraded.
- On Virgin Atlantic, the same applies.
- If you book through a travel agent, you will not be able to upgrade directly with the airline. The travel agent must do it for you. Having a travel agent in the mix, generally causes problems and I would advise avoiding it if possible.
- Make sure you have enough points to upgrade on your trip. If you have an upgradable ticket but not enough points, then it was all for nothing! Make sure you have enough points in your account for at least two Business Class upgrades.
- Ask for upgrade options at check-in! If you do not ask, a points upgrade will not magically fall in your lap.
- I usually ask if there are cash or points upgrades available and if there are, compare the cost.
If you are ever in doubt about which ticket type is best, ask the airline before booking. Alternatively, drop us a message and we can give you some impartial advice.
Picking your cabin is an important part of any trip.
My top tip for cabin picking is this: try and book the highest cabin you can when you purchase your ticket. If you can’t get the cabin you want, get the one below it and upgrade later.