The Top Ten Tips to Get Free Flight Upgrades

Most people are limited to sitting in the standard section of the airplane on a flight and this is usually due to financial limitations. If they do get to sit in first or business class, then it is because they have saved up to enjoy a special experience while traveling or because the trip is paid for by work. Those sitting in first and business class are usually the rich or famous. However, it is possible to get bumped up to first or business in class in spite of only buying a standard ticket and here are the top ten tips for doing this.

1. Turn Up Early

By being one of the first to arrive for check-in, you have the chance of getting offered seats in first or business class that are not booked. There are many instances of people arriving early and when they check-in, the airline has offered them vacant seats in an upgraded area.

2. Arrive Late

A slightly riskier strategy is to arrive late. If you are the last to check-in and there are vacant seats in business or first class, the airline can potentially ask you if you would like the upgrade simply to fill the seats. However, you need to plan this carefully to avoid being so late that you miss check-in completely.

3. Choose Quiet Times to Travel

Traveling at quieter times can make a big difference to the likelihood of being upgraded. Try to choose times when business people are less likely to travel as business is closed, such as a Bank Holiday. At these times, airlines are more likely to offer you better seats.

4. Spend Money

The more money you spend with an airline, the greater the chance of them offering you upgrades. You shouldn’t deliberately spend more money just to get the upgrade as this is defeating the object and you could potentially end up spending just as much money as if you had booked first or business class seats in the first instance. However, if you are spending lots of money, such as when you are paying for lots of additional baggage, then a free upgrade is possible.

5. Show Airline Loyalty

Many of the airlines run loyalty schemes and the more loyal you are to them, the better your chances of being upgraded on your flight.

6. Be Nice

Sometimes, the airline staff will simply reward you for being polite and courteous, especially if they have had a tough day dealing with difficult travelers. Pleasant and friendly travelers catch their attention and brighten up their day. If there are seats available and you treat the staff with respect and courtesy, you might find that this is rewarded with an upgrade.

7. Make a Complaint

Most airlines do not like receiving complaints and will do whatever they can to keep customers happy. Therefore, if you have a genuine reason for complaint, one of the strategies they use to keep passengers happy is offering an upgrade if seats are available. Avoid making petty complaints about silly issues as this will not achieve good results. Simply put your case forward politely regarding any problems you have had with the airline and how it has inconvenienced you.

8. Read Your Emails

You might not necessarily have to wait until check-in to get an upgrade. Airlines will sometimes offer you a last-minute upgrade via email. These can come as late as just before the check-in opens for your flight. Therefore, you should keep on checking your emails right up until the last minute to avoid missing out on a great deal.

9. Dress the Part

Although it is somewhat superficial, dressing the part can make a difference to whether you are the person an airline chooses to offer a free upgrade to or not. Wear full business wear or semi-formal clothing and you have a better chance of getting that upgrade if there are any available.

10. Just Ask!

It may seem cheeky but you can always just ask if there is a free upgrade available. While it is possible that they will say no, you will lose nothing by asking and might just get lucky that on that day there are upgrades available. It is definitely worth plucking up the chance and taking the risk of refusal.


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