Flights: Travel pros reveal how to bag a first-class upgrade – it isn’t up to crew

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Flying First or Business Class may be a dream for many holidaymakers, but it comes with an expensive price tag that can be out of reach for most. However, there are some instances in which a free upgrade is bestowed upon passengers seemingly out of nowhere.

In the past, some cabin crew have suggested buying them sweets or chocolate to give them at boarding in order to potentially bag an upgrade.

Previously, one flight attendant on Reddit suggested: “If you want to go above and beyond, I recommend bringing a bag of assorted chocolate and giving it to cabin crew when you’re boarding.”

While this might brighten the crew’s day, according to some travel pros, it isn’t necessarily the key to an upgrade.

One frequent flier instead revealed the key to hedging your bets.

“As a frequent traveller I can tell you that almost no airlines leave this up to the flight attendants to decide,” they wrote.

“Any upgrade is given to the guy like me who spends 50k+ miles a year in the air.

”He explained that airlines have a particular method for selecting upgrades which he believes is to keep frequent fliers brand loyal.

He continued: “Here is how it works – Airline sell business class tickets up until about 48 hours before.

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“At that point, they start to dish them off to frequent travellers via email notifications.

“24 hours before the flight people start checking in, the frequent travellers confirm they are coming and the seat is taken.

“If no confirmation is received the next people in line will receive the upgrade as they come and print their boarding pass.

“The upgrades are gone 99 percent of the time before the plane is boarded, and if it isn’t they will call names of the next people on the list.”

He added a sombre message to passengers who do not have “frequent flier” status.

“If you aren’t a preferred member you’re not getting an upgrade, there are too many people travelling for business thousands of miles a year and the airline wants to give them every reason possible to keep them on their plane.”

However, an airport worker chimed in to somewhat contradict his theory.

While they agreed that flight attendants are unlikely to give upgrades onboard, they point out there are some instances in which any passenger can be boosted to Business class.

“Reasons I’ve upgraded someone without charge included weight and balance, [but] it’s gotta be a really empty flight for that to happen!” they explained.

“[Or if] someone gave up their seat so I could put a family together, someone is travelling for a sad or horrible reason and confided in us, they’re celebrating a special anniversary or birthday, or they volunteered their seat for a different oversold flight.

”However, the desk agent did suggest that bringing a little something for them might do the trick, though this is likely on a case-by-case basis.

“Just last week this really cute young couple came up to the gate and handed us a bag of goodies, letting us know they appreciated our working so they could see their family,” they said.

“I noticed they had a much bigger bag of goodies for flight attendants and other agents and we had about six open first-class seats, so I had no problem putting them up in first.”

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