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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Tips on how to score a free upgrade

AFP   May 23, 2013
First Published: 11:47 IST(23/5/2013) | Last Updated: 15:09 IST(9/9/2013)

Be nice. Get mad. Be early. Be late. These are some of the contradictory tips travelers have to offer when it comes to trying to score a free flight upgrade.


In a recent report out of Skyscanner, 61 % of flight attendants said they’ve bumped flyers up from economy to premium class cabins, giving preference to well-dressed passengers, those with frequent flyer status, and good manners.

Readers of the same site offered their own tips on how to score a free upgrade based on their own experiences.

Here are 15 ways to get up front according to Skyscanner readers:

1. Travel off-peak

With more empty seats upfront, you increase your odds of filling one yourself.

2. “Spend lots of money”

Passengers who pay up the nose for their economy seat are more likely to be pitied by ticketing agents and score a free upgrade than those who got a deal.

3. Rack up points

Flyers with even the basic airline membership will be given preference over passengers who don’t have a loyalty card.

4. Be early

There are different camps for this one. In the first, some flyers say that checking in early increases your odds of scoring the last remaining seats in first class. Continue reading for the second school of thought.

5. Be late

It’s a bit of a gamble but some readers suggest that checking in late increases your odds of being bumped -- but only if the stars align. For example, you have to hope that the flight is overbooked in economy, which would mean being bumped to first class. All depends on how much of a risk-taker you are.

6. Stay connected

Airlines will contact flyers offering upgrades on the day of departure if the flight is overbooked.

7. Throw a tantrum

Again, this can either work for or against you. Some readers say throwing a fit and getting angry can yield results -- but only when the fit is within reason. Use with discretion.

8. Get sad

Skyscanner calls it emotional blackmail. Again, use with caution.

9. Be nice

One reader tells the tale of how he happily swapped seats with a man who wanted to sit with his wife. A flight attendant rewarded his good deed by seating him in business class.

10. Ditch the sweats, don the good threads

There is a certain cachet to being seated in business class. So if you want to increase your odds of  joining this elite group of flyers, dress the part. Because you can be sure that tracksuits will derail any chances of being bumped.

11. How charming are you?

If you’re a smooth talker, here’s where you need to turn it on. Some readers say throwing a compliment to check-in staff and cabin crew can go a long way -- all the way up to the front of the plane.

12. Get a diplomatic passport -- or marry one

Right. Well, more doable for some than others, readers say that a diplomatic passport is your passport to premium travel.

13. “Supersize yourself”

Again, questionable, but given the controversies brewing concerning overweight passengers, some readers suggest that those who are too fat to fit in economy seats increase their odds of being bumped to roomier seats upfront.

14. Befriend airline employees

They’re your best bet to getting behind the business class curtain.

15. Don’t ask

Check-in staff are unlikely to reward passengers who ask for a free upgrade. But those who are pleasant and solicit nothing may increase their odds of a bump up front.


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