It seems like the economy cabin gets smaller and smaller as airlines try to increase profits. However, these airlines still want to offer a first-class experience to their most loyal customers and sometimes to new customers to entice them to fly with them in the future. Because of this, most airlines have a process to upgrade economy passengers to first class in certain situations. So if you’re in for a long flight, it may be worthwhile to try and snag a better seat!
First class is just the best way to fly. It can’t be beaten unless you’ve got your own private jet. The seats are bigger and more comfortable, the service is better, and you generally feel like a VIP. It’s no wonder that people want to fly first class, so getting bumped up for free is one of the greatest things that can happen to a traveler. Still, it’s extremely expensive for longer flights, so how can you get bumped up without spending the extra cash?
How To Upgrade to First Class Without Using a Ton of Cash
There are a few ways to upgrade to first class, some of which you may not have considered. Let’s look at some of the things that may help you get that coveted seat in first class.
Asking for the upgrade is probably the closest and most obvious way to get it. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if the airline is willing to give you an upgrade. But how do you ask? Well, you don’t start by asking about bringing your vape to the plane.
When you check in, tell the attendant that you’re interested in an upgrade and inquire about the possibility. You can always ask again at the gate if they say there’s no chance. The worst they can say is no, so it’s always worth a try.
The key is to be polite and humble. You don’t want to come across as demanding or entitled, as that will probably just turn them off and make them less likely to want to help you. Know the latest travel European rules, be friendly, and let them know that you would really appreciate an upgrade if it’s at all possible.
Try to fly with an airline that you have status with, as this will make it more likely that you’ll be upgraded. If you don’t have status, you can still try to get an upgrade, but it will be much harder. Reaching out to the airline’s customer service before your flight to ask about the possibility of an upgrade is also a good idea.
Dress the Part
This one is especially important if you’re traveling for business. You want to look like you mean business and that you’re someone who the airline wants to represent well. You can start by using a formal or premium carry-on bag.
Dressing well doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit, but you should at least avoid wearing anything too casual. A nice dress or skirt and blouse combo can work well if you’re a woman. And for men, a collared shirt with dress pants or khakis will do the trick.
When you check in for your flight, be sure to get to the airport early. This will give you a better chance of getting an upgrade, as the airline will be able to see that you’re eager to get on the plane. It’s always best to be prepared!
Plus, if the flight is full, the airline may need to bump someone to first class, and they’ll likely choose someone who’s already checked in. When checking in early, you can also just try the ask method.
Sit Next To The Baby or in the Middle Seat
Airlines will often upgrade passengers who are sitting next to a screaming baby, or in the middle seat, since those are generally considered the least desirable places to sit. So, if you don’t mind being close to a wailing infant or being wedged between two other people, it might pay off to book those seats.
Be aware that on full flights, the airlines may not have any other choice but to keep you in your original seat. Most of the time, you will not get moved simply because of these factors. In cases like that, you should strap yourself in and get ready to survive a long haul flight.
How To Upgrade to First Class Without Elite Status
The airlines are playing a game of cat and mouse regarding seat availability and pricing for first-class upgrades. However, there are a few ways to improve your chances of snagging that first-class seat without paying a fortune or having elite status.
Check Seat Availability as Soon as You Book
As soon as you book your flight, check the seat availability for first class. If there are open seats, you may be able to snag an upgrade at a relatively low price. The airlines will typically release more first-class seats closer to the flight date, so it’s worth checking back periodically.
It’s important to know that if you can’t benefit from getting a free upgrade, there are always other time- and money-saving travel hacks you can use.
Seating is more complicated on flights that have a connection. The best strategy is to book a first-class seat on the first leg of the journey and then see if an upgrade is available for the connecting flight.
Use Airline Rewards Points
If you have airline rewards points or a travel credit card, you may be able to use them to upgrade to first class. Each airline has a different system, so it’s worth checking with your carrier to see what’s required.
Loyalty clubs also offer the opportunity to use points for upgrades. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage members can use their points to upgrade to first class on any flight, regardless of carrier.
Travel During Peak Times
If a flight is empty, there is no need to offer an upgrade. The airlines are more likely to offer upgrades when the flight is full or close to capacity.
This means that you’re more likely to get an upgrade if you travel during peak times, such as holidays. You’re also more likely to get an upgrade if you’re flying on a popular route. Still, be aware that the airlines may charge more for an upgrade during these periods.
Try to Bid for an Upgrade
A newer option available on some airlines is to bid for an upgrade. This is essentially an auction where you put in your best offer for an upgraded seat. The airline will then look at all of the offers and determine who gets the upgrade based on the highest bids.
This option is not available on all airlines, so you will need to check with your carrier to see if this is an option. Even if it is available, there is no guarantee that you will get the upgrade. You should also make sure that there are no hidden fees if you manage to get the upgrade.
Bidding is usually done online, and you will need to do it within a certain window before your flight. The airline will then notify you if you have won the upgrade and how much you need to pay if anything.
Some airlines have raffles or lotteries for seat upgrades. This is usually done for flights that are not full, and there are open seats in first class. The airline will randomly select passengers from coach to be upgraded to first class.
This is a free way to get an upgrade potentially, but it is very unlikely. The best way to increase your chances is to fly during a peak travel time when there are more likely to be empty seats in first class and an overfilled economy cabin.
Buy a Discounted Upgrade
Sometimes, the airlines will offer a discounted first class upgrade at the time of booking. This is usually only available for flights that are not full, so it’s best to check availability closer to your travel date. Similarly, you should also keep an eye out on promos for cheap city breaks that you can book right now. Spontaneity can be nerve-wracking, but if it saves you several hundred bucks then it has to be worth it.
Other times, you can find discounted first class upgrades by using a travel agent or flight search engine that specializes in finding these deals. The airlines don’t always publicize these offers, so it takes a bit of digging to find them.
How To Upgrade to First Class With Elite Airline Status
If you have elite status with an airline, you may be able to upgrade to first class for free or for a reduced price.
What is an elite airline status? Elite airline status is a designation given to frequent flyers who have reached a certain level of flying with an airline. Each airline has different levels of elite status, and each level comes with different perks. For example, some airlines may offer free or reduced-price upgrades to first class for their elite members.
If you have elite status with an airline, you can usually upgrade to first class either for free or for a reduced price. To do so, simply ask a customer service representative at the airport or contact the airline directly. Keep in mind that there may be a limited number of upgrades available, so it’s best to request an upgrade as soon as possible.
You can call ahead for the best chance at an upgrade or go to the airport and ask at the check-in counter. Sometimes, if the flight is not full, you may be able to get an upgrade at the gate.
Airlines typically have different levels of elite status, and each level comes with different perks. The higher the level, the more perks you’ll receive. For example, some airlines may offer free or reduced-price upgrades to first class for their elite members.
If you’re not an elite member, you can still try to upgrade to first class, but you’ll likely have to pay a higher price. To do so, simply ask a customer service representative at the airport or contact the airline directly. Keep in mind that there may be a limited number of upgrades available, so it’s best to request an upgrade as soon as possible.
You can also try your luck at the airport by asking the ticketing agent if there are any upgrade offers available, and if so, how much they would cost.
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.