TODAY   |  January 25, 2013

How to score travel upgrades

Whether you’re looking for a better hotel room, airplane seat, or rental car, Nilou Motamed of Travel + Leisure shares her tips to have you traveling in style.

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>>> want. visit citi.com/thankyoucards to apply.

>> announcer: "today's" travel is brought to you by venture card from capital one. earn travel rewards you can actually use.

>>> get an upgrade. nilu motamed is from travel and leisure magazine . with some of these, it gives you a bit of an edge.

>> we do have a bit of an edge. there are tips that are nonsensical. that's why they make sense to use them all the time.

>> choose your frequent flyer program carefully.

>> this is an interesting one. why not use an airline that is actually headquartered where i live? in fact, do the opposite. choose an airline that isn't headquartered close to you. you won't be fighting with all those other elite passengers who are trying to use their loyalty points and, therefore, getting upgrades. you're more likely to get the upgrade.

>> check into your hotel later in the day.

>> the early bird does not catch the worm in this case. check in later in the day it's more likely there's upgrade inventory left, more likelihood that you're going to get that upgrade.

>> and if you get an upgrade you're more likely to come back?

>> word of mouth is a big deal with hotels.

>> you also say stay at a larger or new hotel or larger new hotel.

>> that's the best of both worlds . they are really going to sink or swim on how people like them. they are more likely to give you an upgrade, make sure you like your experience, make sure you come back. three suites versus 30 suites, you're more likely to get an upgrade if you have the flexibility of the number of rooms to pick from.

>> use your online resource . there's so many.

>> there are. we're trained to go online to book the lowest fair esest fares. what about freebies? priceline has everything from hotel breakfast, hotel upgrades and spa credits. they had over 300,000 freebies on priceline.com. it's a great place to start.

>> you have to know about them to get them.

>> that's why you go right there.

>> then you say a lot of these hotels and airlines have partnerships. does that make a difference?

>> big, big difference. when you're booking your hotel, mention you have a aaa membership or aarp card. that could make a big difference. even your credit card , visa signature, for example. that gives you automatic upgrades at 800 hotels worldwide.

>> before we keep going, if you go online, going back to the online thing, you see these review sigtes. how do you know, or is there a tool you can use, to know whether these reviews are real or fake?

>> you have to use the law of averages. when you go to the review sites and see there's mostly good reviews it's likely the property is mostly doing a good job. if you see there's only a few good reviews, then you have to take your chances. i think there are a lot of algorithms for those websites and make sure the consumer is protected. none of us want to feel like we're being duped.

>> absolutely. and you also say, this is old fashioned, just ask.

>> just ask. special occasion , mention it. if you just, you know, have -- if you just want to see if they have an availability. one thing to keep in mind, the person who is at the front desk doesn't have a ton of flexibility. so certainly be nice to them. certainly be polite as always. and incredibly, actually, recently when we're renting a car, my husband is a tall guy. we end up with a tiny little car and said, listen, is there anything else you have? we literally ended up with an escalade for the price of a ford focus .

>> be nice.

>> always. i think if all else fails, be nice. whether they give you what you want or not. long term, you think about it, they have the ability to mark you in the system as somebody that they want to give upgrades to or not. every step of the way, be nice, be polite, be cordial. they're working really hard to make sure they give you the best hospitality experience possible.

>> nilou motamed, thank you. she's always nice.