Q. I have a ton of frequent flyer miles that I want to use to upgrade to first class. Is there any way to tell when an airline will release unsold first class seats and make them available for upgrade?

A. A really good tool that lets you check if economy class seats are available for upgrade in real time is Expertflyer.com. The site only works with select airlines, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air France, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Qantas, and Swiss (they used to cover United as well, but no longer). Monthly and annual membership is available starting at $4.99 per month. Armed with information about which flights have seats available for upgrade you can then book eligible economy fares and then cash in your miles. They'll also send you alerts to let you know when a seat becomes available for upgrade on flights you specify. We wish more airlines would cooperate with ExpertFlyer.

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