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Getting a flight upgrade is the holy grail of travel; you pay for an economy ticket, but you can end up enjoying a First Class experience without the ridiculous costs.
It may sound like a myth, but it does actually happen; and according to travel experts, there are plenty of easy ways to put the odds in your favour from the moment you arrive at check-in.
Being tactical about your arrival time, choosing the right outfit and even sometimes just politely asking are just some of the easy hacks insiders use to bag that extra bit of luxury without paying extra.
READ MORE: Flight attendants explain what to do if a 'customer of size' spills into your seat
The travel experts at Forbes Advisor have shared their advice on how to up your chances – check out the top tips below.
Time when you check-in
Many people don't realise that the time you check-in could actually increase your chances of an upgrade.
However you need to be tactical; either arrive very early, or go last-minute.
If you arrive several hours early for your flight, you’re most likely to beat off any competition for first class or business tickets – and avoid missing out to someone who got there before you. Chances are if the economy cabin has been overbooked, airlines will want to rectify this sooner rather than later to avoid causing delays.
(Of course when there are chaotic queues and delays, follow your airline's guidance – if they ask that you arrive early, don't rock up last minute!).
It’s not uncommon for some airlines to overbook flights leading to them needing to ‘bump’ passengers to another flight. If the airline is looking for volunteers to take a later flight, take the opportunity as it could lead to a free upgrade for your troubles.
If a first class ticket isn’t offered and you have been bumped (voluntarily or not), it’s always worth asking if they can upgrade your ticket due to the inconvenience.
Another common occurrence on flights is to be asked to move to a new seat by the cabin crew. While this can be inconvenient, if you’re flexible it could be to your advantage. Say yes to being moved and you could land yourself with a first class seat – if not, again it’s always worth asking for an upgrade for your troubles.
You have a much better chances of getting an upgrade if you’re flying alone. It’s unlikely airlines will want to lose out on money to upgrade a large group, so are more likely to offer a free first class ticket to individuals.
Alongside this, seating in first class is often limited, meaning there is less chance of a group of seats becoming available.
Choose your flight time wisely
There are certain conditions where first class seats are less likely to be fully booked up, for example during peak times like school holidays.
Most families won’t shell out to sit in first class and routes will be busy, increasing the likelihood of an overbooked economy cabin.
Alongside this, there is a higher likelihood you may be asked to move seats to accommodate a family with young children – again providing opportunity to be given or ask for an upgrade.
There's no guarantee that your outfit will make a difference, but being dressed smartly could help enhance your chances.
.Don’t feel the need to dress in anything extravagant – just avoid casual clothes like flip flops and shorts.
Last but not least, one of the best tactics is simply to ask airlines if there is a chance for an upgrade. As long as you are polite, there is no reason why this can’t land you a free first class ticket.
This is especially worth trying if you’ve been inconvenienced in any way by the airline; have been delayed, lost your baggage or missed a connection. Politely mention that an upgrade would be appreciated, if possible, and stress your loyalty to the airline.
Alternatively, if your flight is for a special occasion, why not try your luck by mentioning it? Many airline staff will help to upgrade you if they can to make occasions such as honeymoons, anniversaries and birthdays more special.
Have you got any great travel tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.
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- Travel Advice
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