How To Get A Free Upgrade

Travel and financial despair can often sadly go hand in hand; whether your backpacking around Europe or staying at 5* luxury resorts in the Maldives, the art of travel will at one point or another usually costs you A. a slice of your sanity and B. a considerable slice of your wallet. The flight alone can be a test of your mental stability and fiscal happiness, so managing to bag the ever elusive upgrade can make you feel like the proverbial cat that got the cream/reclining chair….So to aid your upgrade mission, here are five delightful dealchecker tips. Everyone knows the usual methods, such as: dressing well or Acting Like a Somebody, (neither of which work, take it from us) but here are a few more just in case you end up turning out to be more of a Nobody.

1. Voluntary bumping.

This happens when you agree to give up a seat on an overbooked plane in exchange some form of compensation. A lot of the time that compensation will come as some kind of future travel. BUT: if you ask nicely and employ the use of some well placed charm, the airline might just agree to bump you in exchange for a better seat. If there’s a spot available and the flight isn’t a long haul or a particularly expensive journey, you could be in with a chance.

2. Courtesy

It’s not big and it’s not clever to shout at staff. Ever. Threats, anger or aggression will not get you anywhere. If anything, it will get you less than you started with. It is completely at the airport staffs’ discretion to either help you or hinder you in any way, and being rude or difficult will get you nothing but a reputation for being vile. Additionally, being especially polite, helpful and friendly won’t hurt – if there are some great seats going spare, its likely that they’ll choose to give them to the people who treated them with the most respect. So no hissy fits guys! Courtesy also involves being able to take “no” for an answer. This is not a nightclub – persistance will not get you anywhere, and neither will trying to look like ‘you own the place’. Confidence doesn’t hurt – but keep the arrogance or sense of expectation to a minimum because staff truly have seen it all before.

3. The ‘Special Occassion’

So the likelyhood of this working is probably quite slim, but it’s certainly worth a try! Whether your honeymooning, it’s your 50th or even your graduation, casually dropping that into conversation won’t hurt. Airlines know that you’ll remember this flight forever, and in the interest of establishing a friendly long-term relationship with you, they might just choose to offer you an upgrade should there be one available. If nothing else, it’s a chance to show off about your impending sparkling career/imminent marital bliss and revel in your own smug glow until everyone hates you. So a winner on all accounts.

4. Get to the airport early

Airlines need to fill empty seats at all costs. Arriving early for a flight will mean that you’ll find airline staff who are less flustered and stressed and therefore far more likely to cater to the whims of cheeky passengers like yourself. There will also be  fewer people with whom to compete for your free airline upgrade. There is quite a common scenario with airlines, and that is that often the coach section is overbooked, but there are empty seats in first class or business class. Airlines will usually fill these spots before they decide to start bumping (see above). And that’s where you come in! The idea is to be around when these kind of decisions are being made.

5. Travel alone

Travelling alone is the best way to guarantee some sort of upgrade. If you are travelling in a big group, it is highly unlikely that you will be considered. When airline staff are deciding who to upgrade, they will generally look for singles. The chances of four empty seats appearing in business class is very slim, and its unlikely that they would give them all to one party anyway. The best opportunities for free upgrades come when you are traveling either on your own or at the most with one other person. If you are happy to separate from your travel companion, either of you might have a shot at an upgrade of some kind.  So basically, if you happen to conveniently lose your friend in the departure lounge Starbucks, it might not be the worst thing in the world.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: Don’t blame us if these don’t work(!)

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