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11 tips for blagging yourself an upgrade on your next flight

  • 20
  • 08
  • 2016

Let’s face it, most people’s holiday budget means travelling in first class sounds like pure fantasy.

But hold up; an upgrade is not something only the Kardashians of the world can get. And there’s nothing better than handing over your economy class plane tickets, to be told: “You’re being upgraded.”

Follow these tips to boost your chances of hearing those three magic words.

1. Kick up a fuss

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If your flight has been delayed, your connection missed, your holiday ruined, you’re more than entitled to give the airline a piece of your mind – although don’t take it out on the air stewards, it’s not their fault. And don’t cross the line and become rude.

A few choice words, and a coherent argument for how these delays and cancellations have mucked up your plans, might just get you a first-class seat on the next available flight.

2. Play nice

Having said that, while there’s a time and a place for kicking up a fuss, being friendly and complimentary towards the stewards never hurts either.

Think about it, if there are two upgrades potentially available on a flight, who would you choose? Probably somebody who was very nice to you …

3. Use emotional blackmail

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On your honeymoon? Flying home to a funeral? Your dog’s died? Your wife’s just left you?

If your life is genuinely in a shambles or you’re on a trip of a lifetime, there’s no harm in just mentioning it in passing. Who knows? A kindly air steward may take pity …

4. Pick your moment

Travelling at times when those who usually fill up business class seats wouldn’t be flying – Bank Holidays, for example – means you’ll be better placed to fill them yourself.

5. Be loyal

shutterstock_62132275Airlines like regular customers, so instead of hopping from airline to airline, pick one, stick with it, and then when it comes to allocating upgrades, you’ll have an edge over fair-weather flyers.

6. Splash out

If you’ve gone bold on paying for extra baggage in the hold and for a window spot, if a seat in business becomes free, the person freest with their wallet apparently has an increased chance of being upgraded.

7. Arrive early


If you’re first to arrive and check in, it means you’re first in line if an upgrade becomes possible …

8. Be late

Alternatively, if you’re brave, being strategically late for your flight could also reap rewards (though don’t go too far with this approach, of course).

If your economy seat has been filled and the flight overbooked, you might get bumped up, or bumped up and put on the next fastest connection.

9. Dress to impress

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If you’re suited and booted and look as though you’re meant to be in first class – as if there’s some mistake that your ticket says ‘economy’ – you’ll be a shoo-in if a seat in business class opens up.

10. Volunteer yourself

Does a couple want to sit together? Is a small child desperate to sit by the window? Has the flight been overbooked?

Volunteer to switch seats or make room for someone else and stewards have been known to reward passengers for their kindness.

11. Just ask

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If all else fails, you could just ask at the ticket desk if there’s any chance – pretty please – if you could be considered for an upgrade. Just remember to switch on that charm.

Image Credits: Pincasso & Sorbis /

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