While we’d all love to fly first class, for some of us those larger seats and tasty food are simply out of our budget. Of course, even more exciting than flying first class, is getting to do it with a free upgrade, but that isn’t always easy. Do you often look at those folks getting the free upgrade with envy and wonder how they do it? Well, here are a few tips that just may help you become one of those select few.
- Book directly with the airline – Airlines prefer to give a benefit to someone who booked directly with them and not through a travel site like Kayak or Orbitz. It shows them that you are a loyal customer and you have a better shot at standing out.
- Check your emails – If you book directly with the airlines, they will sometimes send you incentives when a flight is overbooked with huge discounts to upgrade.
- Be loyal to one airline – The more you fly with one airline the better chance you’ll be granted elite status with them and when first class isn’t completely booked they’ll likely bump you up without even asking.
- Dress up – Airlines want to maintain a certain image in first class so maybe forget the sweatpants next time you travel. You don’t have to get decked out for a black tie affair, but looking presentable is always a bonus.
- Volunteer to go on later flights – If a flight is overbooked, airlines will sometime reward you with an upgrade for volunteering to take a later flight to help them out.
- Fly on your birthday, or with an injury – A cast or other type of injury may get you a sympathy upgrade. Also, there’s a slim chance that flying on your birthday could possibly get you moved up. Just don’t lie about either.
- Use a travel rewards card – Accumulating enough “points” on your travel rewards cards often offer perks depending on how many miles you have.
- Travel on off days/ seasons – Your best chance at an upgrade is on a flight that isn’t completely booked, so your best bet is to fly Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, on pre-dawn flights, or those just after work or red eyes. Plus certain times of the year are slower for travel so you’ll have a better chance then.
- Show up early, or pretty late – If you get to the gate early there’s a chance for you to chat with the gate agent, which gives you a better shot at an upgrade since they may remember you. You can also try getting to your flight by the skin of your teeth, because of they don’t have a seat for you on an overbooked flight there’s a chance they may upgrade you out of courtesy, but with security, who wants to chance that.