Sit Near a Baby, Arrive Early (or Late) for Check-in and Wear a Cashmere Shawl or Linen Jacket

15 insider tips on how to get upgraded to First Class WITHOUT paying

There’s nothing better than an upgrade. 

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

1.) Loyalty 

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts. 

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’ 

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers Cockpit Confidential: ... Smith, Patrick Best Price: $1.25 Buy New $14.71 (as of 03:05 EST - Details) of the airline – or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket – benefitting.’

2.) Check for breakages

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it’s worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark

3.) Fly outside of commuter times

Regular business travellers tend to get preference over casual holiday-goers in the Battle For An Upgrade. They’ve got the air miles, they know the airport staff and they look the part. 

To give yourself a fighting chance book flights that laptop Larrys are less likely to be on. Think midday, midweek and on weekends, not early mornings or late afternoons.

4.) Sit near a baby

Not that you have much control over this, but if the worst happens and you find yourself sitting next to a bawling child ask to move. You might get a worse seat near the loo or you might strike First Class gold. At the very least you’ll probably get a complimentary drink to drown your sorrows.

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