flight upgrade

Thursday tip: how to grab yourself a free flight upgrade

Free flight upgrade? Read on…

A few weeks ago I  was talking to my friend Courtney who is off to South Africa in a few weeks. Her words to me were “i’m going to get a free upgrade”. My response “good luck with that”. The question is though, is there anything you can do to get a flight upgrade? I did some research in to it and here are my top tips.

    1. Travel alone. As simple as it sounds, if you are a family of four, its highly unlikely they will split you up. You have a much better chance of being upgraded if you are a single traveller.
    2. Dress the part. Don’t turn up to the airport in your tracksuit. The people most likely to fly in business generally dress the part so if you want an upgrade then you should too. Business casual or business attire is best.
    3. Check in late. Even though it may be inconvenient, don’t check in online. If you check-in in person at the airport with a big smile you may have some luck at being upgraded. If you don’t check in online, you don’t have a seat assigned to you until the last minute at which point the flight may be overbooked and you may get the upgrade you want. Be warned though, some airlines penalise you for not checking in online and you may also miss out on the seat which you want.

  1. Give up your seat. Often airlines overbook flights and as a result may ask people to take another flight later that day or the next day. If the opportunity arises volunteer to do so as you can often get a free upgrade and sometimes even a cash incentive.
  2. Join an airline loyalty scheme. Often once you reach a certain number of air miles you may be eligible for free flight upgrades to the next highest class. Or if the airline has a record of you as a frequent traveller you may be able to get your upgrade.
  3. Don’t ask for an upgrade. The worst thing you can do is ask for an upgrade or even as I have seen demand an upgrade. Chances are very rarely this will work. But…if the opportunity arises mention why you are going abroad in a subtle way to the check-in attendant or a member of the crew. Perhaps celebrating your honeymoon or birthday may get you bumped up to first
  4. Don’t order yourself a special meal. To the airline this means you are less flexible which in turn means you have less chance of getting upgraded.
  5. Be aware of the ticket you have booked. Often there are different types of economy class tickets. For example, SWISS airlines have economy saver, economy and economy flex(ible) tickets. The likelihood of getting an upgrade with the economy saver ticket is unlikely. If you have an economy flex ticket you are more likely to get upgraded as you have paid more for your ticket.
  6. Smile and be polite. This can get you far.
  7. Use contacts. If you know anyone that works for the airline you are travelling with a quick word with them may not necessarily be the worst thing.

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