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How to get a flight upgrade

Our top tips for getting an airline upgrade the next time you fly

When booking a long-haul flight, everyone at some point will have been tempted to look at the price of a first class ticket, only to be disappointed at the ticket being way out of your budget, not only you but most people. However, all hope is not lost here. The holy grail in this game is the ‘free upgrade’. People have spoken of this upgrade for years and though some have had the experience of one, others believe it to be just a myth. The point of this article is to point you in the right direction to getting a free upgrade on a flight. We will talk you through different approaches to getting your upgrade and also the best times to try and get an upgrade.

The first thing to be outlined is that getting an upgrade is not easy. There are no guarantees that any of the methods will work but it is definitely worth noting them down as in the past they have definitely been of aid to some people, including some of the team!


One of the key elements to blagging an upgrade is wearing suitable clothing. It should be relatively obvious that if you turn up for the flight in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops the person on the check-in desk is most likely to reject your advances for an upgrade. If however, you arrive at the check-in desk in a nice shirt and trousers with a pair of nice loafers on then the check-in worker is far more likely to accept IF there are seats available. The founder recalls a time he was on an ‘invite to upgrade’ list but because he was wearing a hoodie he didn’t stand a chance: “We were flying back from New York and knew our names were on an upgrade list by a very senior BA official,” said Darren Burn. “After a tannoy announcement with our names we were called forward, ludicrously excited, only to have them look at our passports and then our clothes and reject us. It goes to show that the right dress code is vital to blag the upgrade!”. This is one of the key points on this list. You are going to be judged on your appearance before they have even heard you speak.

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After they have seen you waiting in line in your smart outfit and then expecting a polite person to walk forwards there could be nothing worse than you walking up to the desk and demanding, without any please or thank you, an upgrade. The people working on the desk are likely to reject your request simply because you have been downright rude to them. Another big point is don’t waffle. If you are going to ask for an upgrade don’t beat around the bush, be honest and to the point and then they might just consider it. Remember your manners, a please and a thank you can go a long way to ensuring you get that upgrade you so desperately want.


Showing up late and then trying to request an upgrade when the dispatch team are in overload trying to get everyone on the flight on time is not the best way to go about things. Think about it, if you turn up nice and early for your flight, when the check-in isn’t busy at all you have a much better chance of being offered an upgrade because not only will you have their full attention as no one else will be competing for it but also there is a strong possibility that you are the first (of many!) to ask.

Be Reasonable

When asking for an upgrade and being told no there is a very easy temptation to become overly demanding and desperate. This is no good for anyone. The person behind the desk will get frustrated and so will you. Ultimately this will end up with you not gaining your much sought after upgrade and a good chance someone else will get it instead of you. Remember, there is no point in wasting everyone’s time by asking for an upgrade if you know that you aren’t suitable for one at all. Remember, if you happen to be travelling with your whole family on an extremely low fare then there is most certainly no point in asking for an upgrade as it is ultimately a waste of time.

If the airline has messed you around…

Last, but certainly not least the most likely way to secure a flight upgrade is to use an airline’s poor treatment in your favour. If you have travelled with this airline before and they have messed you around or your trip so far has been far from smooth then it is definitely worth asking for an upgrade as a way of making it up to you. Airlines rarely ever hand out an upgrade without good reason and so this potentially gives the team a little sympathy for you that can work in your favour towards getting an upgrade! But we don’t advocate lying of course!

Follow the above steps and maybe, just maybe, you could find yourself turning left when you enter the plane rather than turning right. That or you could just book a business class or first class flight with us in the first place!

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