6 Insider Tips on How to Blag a Free Flight Upgrade

It’s the dream scenario: you wander up to the check-in desk at the airport, and are informed by the check-in staff that they are able to upgrade you from your economy seat into business class, on this occasion.

You try to remain cool with a friendly smile and an ‘Oh, thank you very much’, when inside you’re jumping with excitement like a 6 year old who’s OD’ed on Skittles.

At least, that’s how I imagine it would happen, because I am yet to experience that euphoric moment (sob).

It does happen though. It’s not an urban airport myth — we all have friends who have not only just returned from a trip that will make you cry a little inside through sheer jealousy, but they also can’t help but look a little smug when they inform you that they were also upgraded on the flight too. URGH. (I mean, yay for them!)

So, is there any way you can entice an upgrade? I grilled Ali, our Air Product Executive, and general superior knowledge on all things flights here at STA Travel, to spill any tips she could think of to make our upgrade dreams a reality.

Ali’s Tips for Getting a Free Flight Upgrade

Ali’s not let us down yet. Last year she revealed the cheapest days to fly, and now she’s back to offer up her tips on blagging a free upgrade.

*But. I feel like I should add in a disclaimer here: these are just tips. We are not saying that if you do these things, you will be upgraded — they are simply a few tricks you can pull, to heighten your chances. Maybe.

1. Become a Frequent Flyer

Join the frequent flyer scheme of the airline you’re flying with – they are always more likely to upgrade those with points.

2. Fly at Busy Times

Book yourself onto busy flights (i.e. those departing on Friday nights or before school/public holidays), and be prepared to fly the next day if you can.

If the flight you are travelling on is overbooked the airline will be looking to offload people to take a later flight, and may upgrade you as an incentive, if you agree to be flexible.

3. Dress Smart

Avoid denim and hoodies, or other informal clothing. Airlines are very unlikely to upgrade those wearing boardies and flip flops. Dress to impress, and you may find yourself turning left upon boarding the aircraft.

4. Don’t Order a Special Meal

If you’re keen to increase your upgradeability, don’t pre-book a special meal, if you can help it. Airlines almost never upgrade people with special meal requests, as they are unlikely to have their required meal on-board in the business cabin.

5. Be Fashionably Late to Check-in

If the flight is over-booked, there’s a chance they will move you up to the next class, if all the other seats have been taken. But there is also a chance you will get bumped off the flight and placed on the next available one, so approach this one with caution.

Oh, and don’t be so late to check-in that you miss your flight!

6. Flirt with the Check-in Staff

Well, it can’t hurt right? “Why, helloooo. Are you an air steward, or a special agent from heaven?” works every time. Try it, and come back and tell everyone how successful you were.

If you’re planning on taking a flight somewhere exciting soon, check out our cheap flights page of our website to find a deal and give us a call to make sure you don’t miss out on a bargain!