Flight attendant explains how to get a free upgrade – but don’t come across as ‘cheeky’

Flight attendant explains how to properly pack a bag

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First class passengers enjoy the best of the best but that comes with a heavy price tag. Jane Hawkes, a former flight attendant and consumer expert, told Express.co.uk passengers could get an elusive free upgrade.

Jane said the work starts before getting on the plane but passengers need to be subtle if they want an upgrade.

She told Express.co.uk: “Mention to the ground staff that it’s a special occasion, but don’t use the word upgrade.

“Just drop it into conversation if there’s a reason that makes your travel particularly special that day.

“You could well find that someone pops it in the system and that you do get moved if there’s space.”

She added: “You could even mention to the crew onboard that it’s a special occasion and if you don’t get to switch seats you might always get something else.

“You could get bubbles or something. And then even if the plane doesn’t have first class or business class, you might get a complimentary glass of bubbles with your meal.

“You don’t have to hold out for the whole caboodle.”

A free glass of fizz to accompany an economy meal could easily upgrade the budget experience for passengers. 

Jane said one of the most important things is to always be polite when dealing with airline staff.

She advised: “Sometimes it’s the way you ask because often people don’t do it very well.

“And then you’ll come across as cheeky. You want people to want to help you.”

Cabin crew are likely to choose polite passengers if there is a chance to upgrade a group to first class.

Asking directly for an upgrade could come across as rude and make a passenger less likely to be chosen.

Jane added: “Make sure you adhere to any guidelines on clothing for first class because then you could be chosen for an upgrade.

“They may start with gold or silver club members, but they might also look at who is dressed appropriately.”

The first class experience can come with a few rules, so passengers should wise up on dress codes before travelling to the airport.

While most airlines are fairly relaxed on dress codes, passengers that are dressed well may be chosen first.

Jane added: “If you travel on your own, you’re more likely to be upgraded because there may be just one seat.

“It can be a lot less stressful organising one person at the airport than coordinating a group for an upgrade.”

Leaving friends behind might not be for everyone, but it could be one way to score that free first class seat.

Solo passengers are far more likely to receive a free upgrade or complimentary drink on an airline.

Jane shares advice on her blog ladyjaney.co.uk.

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