10 Ways to Get Upgraded to First Class


So, you want to get upgraded to first class on your next flight?  Here are 10 things you can do to increase your chances that will most likely have you saying ‘goodbye’ to your seat in economy.

1. Sign up for the airlines loyalty program

Whether you are a frequent flyer, or someone that just plans that one amazing vacation every year, loyalty programs are meant to reward and give special perks to their card holders.  Since they are free, and upgrades and special offers go to people who belong these programs, this is a great place to start and begin increasing your upgrade odds.

2. Be nice

It is amazing how many people are nasty to the agents working for the airlines.  We cannot stress the importance of being incredibly  kind to the person checking you in, to the people at the gate and the flight attendants.  You do not know who is going to be the one who gives you the ticket upgrade.  Plus, no one wants to do anything nice for irate, unappreciative, negative people.

3. Dress the part

You don’t have to arrive all decked out in designer duds, but you will be judged on your appearance.  It’s a good idea to pack your athletic apparel, vulgar graphic t-shirts and muddy shoes in your bags and sport something business casual.

4. There are benefits to being on time

If you arrive early and there are available seats in first class or premium economy, guess who gets first dibs? You.  When you arrive to check in, be sure to express your interest in an upgrade to the attendant.  Ask the check-in employee if there are available seats in first or business class, and tell them you would loved to be considered for an upgrade and would be incredibly thankful.  The people at the check-in are there to take your money, so they may say ‘the flight is packed’ or ‘the cost to upgrade is…’.  If you are not successful at check-in, head to your gate early and speak to the people there.  This is where the majority of seat changes happen.  It is important to go up quietly when there is no one else around and ask to be considered.  A little humour with the gate employees never hurts.

5. Book individual tickets

There may only be one seat available for an upgrade.  If your ticket is booked on its own and it doesn’t appear your are travelling with anyone, you are more likely to get the upgrade.

6.  If there is something wrong with your seat, be sure to let the flight attendant know

Seat won’t recline, your tray is broken, TV is not working?  Kindly let the flight attendant know and ask if there is another available seat.

7.  Look for the positive in negative experiences

You have some bargaining power if your luggage was lost, your flight was delayed or cancelled or if you just had a really bad experience.  Always make customer service aware of these issues (without being mean and complaining — see point #2) as soon as they happen and tell them what you would like — to be upgraded on your next flight.  Positive results can always come out of negative experiences.

8.  Avoid times when business people travel in abundance 

The majority of people who fly first class are business people who did not pay for their tickets personally — their company did.  If you fly when the business people do, there will be no extra seats in business or first class.

9.  Mention special occasions

Is it your birthday or honeymoon?  Let the employees know.  They’ll try their best to do something extra special for you.

10. Volunteer

Good things come with sacrifice.  Flights always have people on standby and if you have some time to spare, volunteer to take the next available flight (provided there is a first class seat for you).  Even though there would be some extra wait time, you can probably manage to get a complimentary lounge pass where you can enjoy free food and beverages too.

Bon voyage with your upgraded ticket.


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