How do you get a free airline upgrade?

Does it only happen to celebrities or those who moan a lot? Canimageimage smiling beguilingly at the airline’s agent do the trick? Perhaps a cheeky wink or fabricating a desperate yarn will work wonders.

I’m talking about free upgrades on aircraft seats. Has it happened to you? How can this be achieved?

I’ve never had the cheek to ask, but then if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Or do you?

Geoff was hoping for one today on his flight to Dubai where he is going warm his bones on a visit to see his son, daughter-in-law and gorgeous granddaughter.

He was hopeful just before he left, saying on twitter: “Checked in on Emirates EK012 and marked down for upgrade at gate as agent said he enjoyed serving me :-)”

This was followed one hour later with a disappointing update: “now on plane – ugrade failed happen :-(”

Ahhhh…. Let’s all feel sorry for Geoff.

And happy for Sally‘s launch into stardom, she is to be interviewed by BBC Radio Norfolk next week about her blog.


  1. We had an upgrade when we flew to Sicily..we were offered it when we checked in and it was brilliant. Loved the lounge with pastries drinks and magazines. It did make our flight very pleasent.

  2. – Dress classily

    – No kids

    – Ask

  3. Upgrade?
    Where to, the pilots cabin? – Only kidding.
    Like everything in life, it depends whether you are a star, or are larger than life and have charisma to match.

    Me, I don’t believe in class. So i book whatever is available, and sit on my seat – then move around the plabe seeing if there are any ‘free’ seats available.

    PS – Clear skies and starry night in Cambridge.

  4. Geoff, are you going to try for a free update on the return flight?
    CU, there are a few tips here, why not try them out?

  5. never managed it, asked a lot!

  6. Many thanks for the link and story Ellee.
    I’ve had numerous upgrades in the past even flying Virgin Upper Class a few times. In general the secrets are:-
    Join the airlines frequent flyer club.
    Always ask and be friendly and nice towards agent.
    Be prepared to move flights as most flights are oversold and then get upgrade on following flight.
    This time the plane was packed to the gunnels and in fact the honeymooning couple next to me had been downgraded from their business class seats.
    Yep and I’ve joined the Emirates flying club 🙂

  7. I think upgrading is not as common as it once was. Business class is very full these days, well the whole plane is very full. I think it is because people can prebook their seats and most do.
    We did get upgraded once between Honolulu and Sydney and it was fabulous.
    Recently a friend paid for business class and at the last minute was put down to economy one way because they had overbooked business class! She got a refund on that bit but would rather have had the seat.

  8. Steven_L

    Try travelling as an unaccompanied minor and complaining you can’t see out of the window. That worked for me when I was 12.

  9. I’ve heard that dressing well or booking late might help.

  10. I’ve never been upgraded on a plane but I have been upgraded to a luxury suite in an hotel! [I didn’t do anything – it just happened.]

  11. Ian Lidster

    Has never happened to me, but I’ve always prayed it would, especially for a long flight, like London to Vancouver.
    But, alas, we always end up stuck in ‘steerage’.

  12. I did get one once, some years ago. They are such a lovely surprise.

    They seem to be a pretty random thing.

  13. Maalie,

    I think Geoff will be very disappointed to learn he has missed out on dishier air hostesses!

    Flowerpot, always worth a try. It’s sickening when it works for someone else, but not for you.

  14. I tried getting an upgrade years ago coming back from the STates. My much travelled cousin said I would get one if we arrived late. So we got there late – and I didn’t. But at least I gt on the flight!

  15. Oh, it wasn’t right up into business class, but I had a lot more room for my legs, more comfortable reclining and more attentive service. And of course the dishier air hostesses.

  16. Maalie, good for you, what extras did you get thrown in?

  17. Yes, I was upgraded last year on my way out to Australia. They had overbooked, so I became very assertive and said that I had booked eight months previously so if there was anybody on the plane that had booked later than that there would be hell to pay. I got an upgrade!

  18. Sorry for Geoff but nice one for sally 🙂

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