Here are three easy steps for landing more flight upgrades…

** Step 1: Sign up for frequent flyer programs. It won’t cost you anything, and you’ll earn points when you fly and have access to special promotions and challenges.

** Step 2: Look for elite challenges. Challenges are unpublicized promotions that allow you to earn elite status by flying a certain number of flights or miles in a limited amount of time. Because these are unpublicized, you need to call your airline’s frequent flier customer service center to learn about them.

For example, in the past year, if you had flown with American Airlines to Ecuador or Peru in Business Class, you would have yielded enough points to earn instant Gold or Platinum status. This was through their “Gold or Platinum Challenge.”

Not all airlines offer these challenges to all members. To find out if you qualify, call your airline’s frequent flier customer service center.

** Step 3: Accumulate mileage through your credit card. With so many credit cards to choose from, how do you know which one is best for you? Cards like MBNA or Capitol One, which offer their own mileage programs, are tempting. They usually have no blackout dates and are valid on multiple carriers. But they leave out one big detail: The points are usually not valid for Business or First Class travel!

You can read more about choosing a rewards card program here in our archives: How to Fly for Peanuts.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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