In the last year we have taken 30 flights… for us that is ALOT and guess how many of them we were able to get a FREE Upgrade to Business or First Class on????????
None! What did you think we were going to say?
Now first of all you can see why free upgrades are rare, I mean just think of the price. On a recent Emirates flight we took from England to Thailand our standard economy ticket was $650 return the same flight for Business Class would have been $5000. Now, for that $5k you do get Free Chauffeur Service to and from the airport, 1st class lounge access at each airport, a bar YES a full Bar ON the Plane itself where you can hang out for the entire flight sipping cocktails at 30,000ft , a lay flat bed with a huge TV, impeccable service, gourmet food and more, but still…. $5,000!!!! You could rent a house for 1.5 years in Thailand for that amount of money…
So this leads to the Q, in this day and age is it even possible to get a free upgrade for something worth so much???
Well the simple answer is yes, proven by the very fact that it happens and we know many people who have been upgraded. But is this just serendipitous or is there anything you can do to improve the odds?
Well let us consider some points and ways that can help… HOWEVER let us start by saying that these things are not a guarantee, this blog is based on research, reports and experiences, and it is just a way to help put the odds in your favour.
WHY Free Upgrades are given:
Why would an airline give anyone a free upgrade??? This is the BEST Q to first consider because this will help you understand WHY at times these expensive upgrades are given out.
More or less all airlines over book every flight, so if their airplane has say 200 available seats they will over book this to say 205, why would they do this? Simply to earn more money, because on most flights some people do not turn up so it helps the airline ensure every seat is filled and paid for.
So how can this information help?? Wellllll what happens if ALL 205 passengers turn up, what happens then? Simply the airline needs to find a way to get those extra passengers to their destination either by giving them the free upgrade to business/first class or giving them financial compensation to take a later flight.
This is the most likely way you will get a free upgrade, if your flight is overbooked and everyone turns up.
What can you do then to improve the chances of you being the one to get the golden ticket?
When you arrive at the airport, simply ask the person checking you in if the flight is full, and say that you are willing to change your flight.
For many people the thought of getting to the airport and then not being able to fly is sooo annoying however airlines will give you a lot for this inconvenience, usually you will get Hotel for the night, Food Vouchers, a Cash Voucher (a few years ago I got offered to change my flight and they would of given me $600 CASH) ANDDDDD on the next flight you should, in most cases, get that FREE Upgrade to Business Class.
Amazingly you can actually often negotiate what they will give you, so make sure if this happens to you to negotiate hard.
Be REALLY Early or REALLY Late:
We have had several friends who have received what we just mentioned (free hotel, food, cash and business class seat) for changing their flight, and in EVERY case our friends were either SUPER late or SUPER early for their flight.
And this makes sense, based on what we are discussing, if the airline know they are overbooked and need to change a seat for their customer they are more likely to choose someone who is really early and then ask if they can volunteer or they wait till the last minute of checking in hoping someone will not show up and they do not need to upgrade or compensate anyone.
Now personally, we never like to be super late for a flight because its a little too stressful for us, so we go with the first option, we try to arrive really early.
Smart and Polite:
Business/First class is often reserved for the richer class, and airlines want to keep a certain look to this section of the plane to appease the customers who have paid full price for their tickets.
So if you want a chance of being offered a free upgrade it would really help if you are super polite, friendly and dress smart, now I don’t mean a suit (although maybe that would help ha ha) but perhaps think about wearing a shirt, chinos, tidy shoes basically something that just don’t look like a typical back-packer.
Be Slow Boarding:
When the airline start boarding imagine that the air hostesses have been told that they need to free up a couple of spaces in economy class and need to upgrade some economy passengers to business class, what do you think they are going to do?
Announce on the tannoy that the first customers to get to the front get them?? ha ha no way this would cause a stampede.
And it would also be very hard to ask someone in front of dozens of other passengers.
The easiest way is to discreetly ask when other passengers are not with-in ear shot, so an easy way to put yourself in this position is wait till the rush of people have boarded and try and create a situation where it is just you (and your family) with the air hostess, so IF they have some business class seats to offer you, the staff will be in most convenient position to choose you.
This point ALSO comes from some close friends who were able to be upgraded by doing just this.
Loyalty/Frequent Flyer Card:
Every airline has Loyalty cards of some sort with various rewards. In most cases many of us are not travelling enough to actually benefit that much from these rewards, HOWEVER it has been shown that having one for the airline you are flying with, even if you have only just got it, bumps you up in the queue if the airline need to give an upgrade.
In most situation these Frequent Flyer Cards are Free so why not do it just in case.
There is many other tips/tricks/ideas for ways to get free upgrades for your flight, however it has to be said the odds of it happening to you is very low, but how amazing would it be if it did.
However these tips that we have given take next to no effort, and are very simple. We apply most of them for every flight and we find it takes no real effort, and if it enabled us to get a free upgrade one day it would have all been worth it.
We hope you start trying these tips and if you get upgraded we would LOVE to know.
Thanks for Reading.