We’ve all heard the stories – an unsuspecting couple are standing near the back of the queue at the airport, and all of a sudden they find themselves whisked from economy class to first, in an amazing stroke of luck through a free upgrade. It seems that most people have, at some point, been given the enviable opportunity to ascend the ladder of the airline heirarcy.
However, these stories always seem to happen to someone else. If you’ve not yet had the happy experience of being upgraded, here’s the lowdown on optimising your chances of travelling in style at no extra cost…
Let staff know if you are celebrating an occasion
If you’re off on your honeymoon with your new spouse, heading off for a birthday celebration or about to live it up on a stag weekend, it may be worth letting the staff know as you check in for your flight. Depending upon what mood your check-in desk attendant is in, they may feel like treating you to a free upgrade if there is space and they feel that way inclined. Don’t expect anything as your given right, but be polite and simply keep your fingers crossed and see what happens.
People who occupy a single seat are more likely to be upgraded than people who travel in pairs or groups. This is because often planes have the odd seat left untaken on a flight, while couples looking to sit together will make up most of the booking. It’s much easier for a member of staff aboard the plane to ask you to move and sit somewhere else if you are alone, and it’s possible that this move may entail a free upgrade to a different class.
Check in early
Those travellers who check in early are more likely to be given an upgrade than the stragglers who turn up at the last minute. Staff appreciate that you made the effort to be on time and issues with seating are usually known about as soon as the check-in desk opens for admitting passengers. This means that the earlier you arrive, the more scope you have for a free upgrade to Business or First class, as your check-in desk attendant is looking to resolve issues straight away and sort out who is going to be sitting where on the flight.
Dress respectably and cleanly
It goes without saying that airline staff won’t choose to pop someone in business class among the suited and booted if they are looking a little worse for wear. It may be an old trick, but dressing well and looking clean and presentable really can increase your chances of getting a free upgrade.
Be friendly and courteous
A pushy passenger has absolutely no chance of getting upgraded on a flight, primarily because all seat bookings are done at the discretion of the member of staff who deals with them. It stands to reason, then, that people who are smiley and friendly, polite and nice to deal with are much more likely to be on the receiving end of perks than the more surly, complaining or grumpy passenger.
Often on a flight, the airline staff will be in a position where they have to juggle seats around after boarding in order to satisfy the needs of all the different passengers on the plane. This could mean that families need to sit together, or someone has a phobia of windows, or the people who have been placed in the emergency exit aisles are not suited for the task in hand. If an air steward asks you to be flexible and move to a different seat, volunteer. The chances are that you will be upgraded for being prepared to help out, if there is any space available, even if you are not told this prior to volunteering.