How to Receive a First Class Upgrade

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Flying in the first class cabin is a luxury by anyone’s standard. Exceeding business class, the first class cabin is packed with a host of added benefits including: primary boarding, exclusive attention, international cuisine and enough legroom to completely stretch out, to name a few.

Frequently, the anticipation of purchasing a first class fare is followed by the dreaded realization of the cost. First class travel class does not have to break the bank, as there are hidden secrets to upgrades available to the luxury class cabin without spending an extra dime.  Below are five great tips to getting a free first class upgrade for air travel.

The early bird catches the worm:

We all know that arriving to the airport early generally ensures a worry free check-in experience, but arriving early can often lead to a free on-the-spot upgrade to the first class cabin.  Airlines do not like their first class cabin to appear empty to other travelers.   Counter agents will often try to “fill” these empty seats while passengers are checking in for the flight at the airport. The upgrade to first class is as simple matter of first come first serve. Arriving late to the airport for check in means any empty seats the airline had available will probably have been taken. Use this rule of thumb even when checking in online by printing boarding passes at home, arriving early and asking the counter agent for any upgrades available.

Dress to impress:

In order for the airline to offer a passenger a free upgrade to first class, the passenger must first appear as if they “belong” in the first class cabin.  As disturbing as it is to think that appearance and dress matters in society – it does.  Airlines will not offer free upgrades to potential first class to passengers wearing denim, shorts or white athletic shoes. Business casual is the way to go when dressing for a free upgrade to first class.

Cash on the spot:

The old saying that cash rules still holds true.  Offer to outright purchase the difference at the airport counter while checking in for your flight. This often works well for long-haul flights as agents are busy checking in passengers and may forget to check empty seats available in the higher class.  In return for the offer of cash, the airline agent often will upgrade you at no cost.

Use competitor’s name while booking:

When booking the ticket, call the airline and use the competitor’s name in the conversation sighting their cost for the same flight. Express your loyalty to airline agent’s airline and complement them. The result is often a free upgraded ticket to first class in an effort to keep you as a loyal customer.

Offer to give up your seat on a full flight:

When noticing that the flight is oversold and full at the gate, do not wait for the airline agents to ask for volunteers to donate seats.  Offer your seat before asked and the result is often a first class upgrade in addition to the free domestic ticket that is offered.

Rack up miles:

Lastly, use frequent flyer miles toward the upgrade to first class.  Especially beneficial for long haul flights, using the additional mileage from your airline bank will be well worth the sacrifice when settled into the luxury class. Particularly helpful when you do not have enough mileage for a ticket outright, the supplement of miles to guarantee a first class ticket is a clever way use small increments of mileage points.

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