Everybody deserves a little VIP treatment. Why should celebrities, sports stars and Fortune 500 executives get all of the free perks? After all, they're the only ones who can actually afford to pay for them! At the end of a long day of flight delays, cramped coach cabins, airport traffic and bad weather, nothing says "you're special" like an unexpected upgrade from a drab economy single to the honeymoon suite with the heart-shaped Jacuzzi in the bathroom.

As exhilarating as an unexpected hotel or airline upgrade feels, it doesn't have to be unexpected to be appreciated. Veteran travelers have learned the tricks and tips to subtly increase the odds of a last-minute bump. Dress sharp, meet the manager, check in early, board late -- these are just a few of the time-tested strategies that separate the complimentary peanuts from the complimentary wine.

The greatest piece of overall advice is simple: Be nice. Leave the diva act to the actual divas. They can get away with it because they can leave paths of $100 bills in their wake. To win the favor of desk clerks and ticketing agents, always be polite, friendly and honest. Flight attendants can smell a fake honeymoon couple a mile away, but if you're a likable person with a specific, reasonable request, doors will be opened for you … and maybe even a curtain.

On the next page we'll find out how to get on a hotel clerk's good side -- no Abe Lincolns required.