Have you ever flown on a flight that accidentally overbooked coach? For legal reasons, airlines are required to automatically upgrade passengers to better seats (assuming that they have checked into their flights and have already purchased a ticket). Post 9/11, the TSA requires all airlines to ensure that all passengers have seats on flights once they have checked in. Previously, airlines could simply cancel your ticket and book you on the next available flight.
Accumulating Miles on Airlines
I work as a software engineer/consultant and have spent a lot of time traveling to client sites. I have accumulated about 375,000 miles, and every time an airline kiosk got a whiff of my credit card being swiped, I was automatically upgraded to first class.
After my first flight with the upgrade, I decided that first class seats were of less value to me than for others, so I decided to start auctioning off my ticket prior to each flight.
Auctioning Off my First Class Ticket
The trick here was to get the price cheap enough that someone wouldn’t pay for it at the kiosk. I decided that $100 was reasonable on a 5 hour flight. I would get up on a chair before the boarding started and yell loudly, “First person that comes to me with $100 cash is flying first class today. Anyone interested?”
The crazy thing is, someone was always interested and even if I couldn’t get $100, I easily negotiated the price to $75. I took 4 flights a week and successfully swapped my ticket each time. This resulted in an extra $300/week. Working 50 weeks a year, I made $15,000 just selling first class seats on all my flights.
If you find yourself upgraded to first class and want to make quick money, auction your ticket off prior to departure and spend your free money on your vacation.