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flight upgrade

How to Get A Flight Upgrade

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Airplanes have been cleverly designed for us to all walk past the spacious and comfy looking leather seats of “business class” as we make our way down the narrow aisle to economy. Upgrading your seat for extra legroom and elbow space is a dream many of us have, especially during long haul flights. Unfortunately, this travel upgrade comes with a hefty price tag.

The best things in Life are free! One of the best things to get for free is any type of upgrade. But perhaps the most exciting is a flight upgrade. But how do you get one?

We have researched some ways that can help you to upgrade your economy seat in time for your next flight. Get your pen and paper ready because here we go.

flight upgrade

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Flight Upgrade Tip #1 – Join a Frequent Flyers Scheme

The most popular way to get an upgrade is via a frequent flyer scheme. They are normally free to join and can provide you with multiple opportunities to upgrade. For example:

  • You’ll receive transferable points every time you make a purchase via the airline. This can include flights, onboard purchases and more. These points can then be used to buy an upgrade.
  • If an upgrade is available on your flight you will be given priority over passengers who are not members of the frequent flyer club.
  • Frequent flyer schemes often have levels, which offer benefits. As you navigate to the top of the levels, free upgrades may become part of the benefits.
  • Finally, as a frequent flyer you’ll be signed up to exclusive newsletters, which could include special upgrade offers and competitions for a free upgrade.

Relevant post: Travel Essentials: For a Good Night or Day Sleep

Flight Upgrade Tip #2 Dress to Impress

Have you ever seen someone in business or first-class wearing tracksuits, sweats and sports t-shirts? My guess is probably not.

If you really want an upgrade, we suggest dressing with style, while maintaining your comfort. A nice blouse or top and blazer, will give you the air of professionalism making you a perfect fit for the seats with the extra room.


Flight Upgrade Tip #3 Name Drop

If you are can add a title or letters to your name, the airport is the place to use them. Remember, to use them when you book your tickets, so that they appear on the screen when your check-in and board.

When we say name drop, we mean are you a Doctor, Lady, Professor or Judge? These names can provide you with some great VIP treatment from the airline.

Relevant post: How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Flight Upgrade Tip #4 Time Your Arrival

Do you check in online and print out your boarding pass? While this is a massive time saver it could prevent you from being upgrading. Being one of the first or last people to check-in can improve your chances of an upgrade.

When you arrive first you can receive an upgrade when the number of available seats in business and first class are known.

Plus, planes often overbook their flights, so when you check-in last you may get bumped up because they can’t fit you in economy.


Flight Upgrade Tip #5 Travel at Quiet Time

Skyscanner suggests travelling outside of the busy travel season, as you’ll have less competition for the ultimate travel gift of a free upgrade. Business class, tends not to be full during public holidays, so consider travelling on these days.

Relevant post: How to Prevent, Minimise and Fight Jet Lag!

Flight Upgrade Tip #6 Befriend a member of Airline Staff

This is the trickiest flight upgrade tip. It’s true what they say “its who you know not what you know”. Have you got a friend or family member who works for an airline, either at the ticket office or at the check-in desk? Ask them for a complimentary upgrade, it’s worth a try, right?

Alternatively, you can follow Emirates advice and serenade the check-in staff with a catchy song on a ukulele.


Final thoughts about a flight upgrade

A UK poll in 2017, by, found that the most popular way people received a free upgrade was ‘They gave me an upgrade – no questions asked.’ This was the most common answer from people that did and did not have significant status with a frequent flyer scheme.

Maybe at the end of the day its just luck, but if you follow the above advise your chances will be increased.


  • Katelin Dickson

    September 5, 2019

    Great tips! A free upgrade always makes the flying experience that much better.


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