Flights: ‘Best’ method to boost your chance of a free upgrade

First class travel: How do people get upgraded?

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Arriving at the airport to find you have been upgraded to Business or First Class is something many passengers dream of, especially with Economy Class tickets rising in cost. Though the price of an upper-class ticket might be beyond reach for many, there are some ways you can boost your chances of bagging a free upgrade.

Travel blogger Moore is the founder and director of Pocket Wanderings (@PocketWanderings), where she records stories and insights of her experience travelling solo across the UK and beyond.

According to Jessie, bagging a free upgrade is not as easy as it once was, yet she believes there are still some ways passengers could be in with a chance.

She explained: “I actually have never been upgraded for free on a flight – and I travel a lot. It’s definitely harder than it used to be.

“However, I do think it’s possible and although there are steps you can take to improve your chances, there is still a hefty amount of luck involved.”

Jessie told “The best way you can increase your chances of a free upgrade is to join a Frequent Flyer programme.

“It will give you priority over other flyers if an upgrade does become available.”

Many airlines offer their own frequent flyer programmes, and you can become one simply by signing up.

Each airline will provide have specific rules for obtaining a loyalty card.

For example, for British Airways, passengers can get an Executive Club card depending on how often they fly, with different flights worth different points.

For British Airways, there are three elite levels in the Executive Club program: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Under British Airways rules, upgrades tend to be reserved for Gold members, though you can use points to bump up a cabin for “free”.

Virgin Atlantic, on the other hand, has its own “Flying Club” which lets passengers “earn Virgin Points every time you travel”.

As passengers earn points they can move up tiers, and subsequently, earn benefits such as Premium check-in or lounge access.

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They can also spend their points on upper-class upgrades.

If a frequent flyer scheme isn’t suitable for you, there are a few additional anecdotal methods which some passengers recommend.

Jessie said: “Some people swear by simply asking, but I suspect that check-in staff could find this irritating given how many people they deal with on a daily basis.

“One reason why it’s harder to get an upgrade nowadays is that we mostly check-in online and then drop our bags off with a self-service machine.

“So you’re bypassing any staff altogether. If there’s the option to drop your bags at a check-in desk then you may improve your chances of an upgrade.”

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