Travel offer tips on how to get a flight upgrade to make your holiday even more special.

If you have ever been awarded a free flight upgrade you will no doubt be aware of the thrill of getting something for nothing. But what is the best way to get beyond the business class curtain? While there are no guarantees, here are ten top tips to improve your chances.

Dress to impress. Always travel in smart clothing, we’re not talking a full suit, but business wear or smart casual should suffice.  Pitching up in loose jeans, t-shirt and trainers might feel more comfortable on a long flight but it is going to greatly affect your chances of being upgraded. You need to look the part to slip in with the more expensive seats.

Be punctual. Check in as early as you can, where possible check in online. If a cabin has been overbooked they will move people early to avoid operational issues on the day.

It’s who you know. Should you be fortunate enough to know anyone who works for the airline or the ground handler, let them know you are travelling. Staff are often able to place notes in the booking that state you are suitable for an upgrade. If the airline does need to move passengers you are likely to be one of the lucky ones to be picked out.

Make it an occasion. If you’re travelling for special occasion such as a 40th birthday, honeymoon or heading abroad to get married, then make sure a note is placed into your booking. Your travel agent, tour operator or airline should be able to do this for you. The staff at check in, the boarding gate and on board the plane will see this and may decide to make the trip that bit more special for you.


If you travel regularly, join the frequent flyer scheme. The higher you’re rated as a member the higher your chances of being rewarded with an upgrade. To maximise your chances, try to stick to one airline grouping, such as One World, Star Alliance or Sky Team.

If you do ask, then you don’t get. This might sound strange; it might go against everything you’ve ever heard, but asking for an upgrade will usually do more harm than good. Airlines never opt for groups and usually pick out single travellers or couples to upgrade.

Book directly with the airline. The airline will know more about you and will be more likely to reward direct bookers, rather than those booked through an agent or tour operator.

Remain flexible and make yourself an easy option for movement. Don’t book meals or special assistance. It makes moving you that extra bit of hassle that airline staff would rather do without and you are likely to remain in the cabin you booked.

Don’t count on an upgrade. The premium seats on charter flights sell out very fast. Therefore if you are interested in upgraded service then book your flight early, and pay the extra. Freebies are extremely rare on these flights so you may be wasting your time trying to bag one here.

Be polite. I’m sure you don’t need to be told this, but remaining polite, well mannered, cool and calm will improve your chances of a member of the airline staff wanting to help you. Being chatty, friendly and personable disposes staff to helping you after a long day of dealing with stressed out travellers. Basically, turn on the charm if you can.