Travel news: Going up in the world

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Flatter the check-in staff, wear a tie, or claim it's your honeymoon: all these techniques have been employed with varying degrees of failure in a bid to get an upgrade. Now, though, British Airways has decided that moving up from economy to Club Europe could be yours for the taking - if you pay £50 for the privilege.

Until now, anyone hoping to travel in the comfortable seats in front of the curtain would have to pay the difference between the economy and Club fares, which usually amounted to hundreds of pounds. On flights from Gatwick to Nice in November, for example, the cheapest economy return fare is £57, while the lowest Club Europe price is a staggering £851. But now some passengers at Gatwick are invited to upgrade, if space is available, on payment of a £50 one-way fee. "It's a trial we're running on certain flights on certain days," said a spokeswoman for BA.

While the baggage allowance remains the same - 23kg, rather than 30kg - other privileges of premium travel apply. Upgradees may use the Executive Lounge at the airport before departure. On board, they qualify for more legroom and preferential in-flight treatment, including complimentary champagne. Each adult who upgrades can be joined by one infant for a flat £5.

SriLankan Airlines used to offer the same option at Heathrow on its flights to Colombo, but has since abandoned the practice.

British Airways has no plans to extend the scheme to long-haul flights - where the best chance of an upgrade remains the same as ever, i.e. marrying a member of the airline's staff.

AT LAST, the first scheduled jet service between the UK and Corfu (above) has been announced. From next May, GB Airways will fly four times a week from Gatwick to the Greek island of Corfu, for £65 each way, on behalf of British Airways.

The lowest fares will be available only well in advance through www.ba.com. Also in May, the same airline starts flying twice-weekly between Gatwick and Mykonos; from £69 one-way.

With existing summer services from Gatwick to both Rhodes and Crete (Heraklion), the move makes it possible for island-hoppers and Hellenophiles to book "open jaw" tickets and cover the country from one end to the other.

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