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Upgrading Your Seat For Surprisingly Little

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Upgrading Your Seat For Surprisingly Little

If you fly a lot, you've probably been offered a business or first class upgrade for surprisingly little extra when you check in at the airport. This irks many elite frequent flyer members who think that it takes away from their benefits, but most airlines offer these upgrades only after all elites have been offered a chance to upgrade their own seat. Some airlines sell upgraded seats for fixed prices when you book your ticket, even on the lowest fares available. The chart below shows what's available on several US domestic airlines.

Airline Price, Short Haul Price, Medium Haul Price, Long Haul Seat Pitch & Layout How far ahead to book? Extra Perks

Airtran

(business class)
$49-69 per segment over Y class fares only (price varies based on how full the flight is) $69 per segment over Y class fares $99-$129 per segment over Y class fares 37 inches, 2 by 2 seating At time of check in (web or at airport); available first come first serve 1st and 2nd checked bag fees waived, priority boarding, complimentary cocktails

Delta

(first class)
$50 for 0-500 miles $75-150 for 501-2,000 $225-350 for 2,001-3,100 36-38 inches, 2 by 2 seating Only available at departure gate and only if all eligible elite members have been upgraded. Full first class service (meals, extra legroom, free checked baggage, free drinks, priority boarding)

JetBlue

(Even More Space)
Depends on route and flight time of day, but can range from $5 to $75 Depends on route and flight time of day, but can range from $5 to $75 Depends on route and flight time of day, but can range from $5 to $75 38 inches Available any time from booking to at the departure gate Extra legroom, priority boarding, priority TSA lines at many airports

Spirit

(Big Front Seat)
Depends on route and time of purchase, but starts at approx. $12 over any fare and ranges to $199 Depends on route and time of purchase $12-199 Depends on route and time of purchase $12-199 36-38 inches, 2 by 2 seating At time of booking or at gate; upgrades are also available on board the aircraft for $25-75 depending on flight length More legroom
United Varies based on fare type purchased and current first class fare Varies based on fare type purchased and current first class fare Varies based on fare type purchased and current first class fare 38 inches, 2 by 2 seating Available at check-in kiosk or during online check-in. Reports indicate that sometimes these paid upgrades are available even before complimentary elite upgrades have been processed Full first class service (meals, extra legroom, free checked baggage, free drinks, priority boarding)

US Airways

(first class or Envoy [international business] Class)
Varies depending on route but can range from as little as $50 each way for a first class upgrade on short domestic routes to $500 on international fares; offered on any fare Varies depending on route but can range from as little as $50 for a first class upgrade on short domestic routes to $500 on international fares Varies depending on route but can range from as little as $50 for a first class upgrade on short domestic routes to $500 on international fares 36-38 inches, 2 by 2 seating 24 hours before departure online, by phone, or at the airport Full first class service (meals, extra legroom, free checked baggage, free drinks, priority boarding)
Virgin America (first class) $79 on any fare $139 $299 55 inches 6 hours before departure (used to be 24 hours) Full first class service
Check out comments below or add your own!

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