Be a loyal customer
Having a frequent-flier membership can earn you more than just free flights on your airline of choice. If you fly often enough with a particular airline, you can earn elite status, which often starts at 25,000 miles and can bring you a wide range of perks. Frequent-flier credit cards are another way to add miles, too.
Travelers with "status" are more likely to receive a free upgrade than the average frequent-flier member, says Sullivan.
By being loyal to a particular airline, your odds of being upgraded by that carrier gain altitude, says Sullivan. She encourages travelers who want to earn elite status to stick with the main carrier or carriers at the airport they most often use.
"The reward will work both ways. The people who fly the most are rewarded the most," she says.
RATE SEARCH: Looking for a rewards credit card? Find, compare and apply for credit cards from Bankrate's partners now!