10 ways to score free flight upgrades
GETTING a free flight upgrade nowadays is as common as finding a four-leaf clover, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
Whether you're after a cheeky Qantas upgrade on a domestic flight, or want the coveted Emirates upgrade to business class on a long-haul route, Skyscanner Australia has published a list of the top 10 things you can do to try and secure that plush position.
1. BE A FREQUENT FLYER
Joining a frequent flyer scheme is a smart way to angle for flight upgrades. Airlines reward loyalty with points, and the first set of free flight upgrades will most certainly go to their frequent flyer members first.
2. DRESS TO IMPRESS
It's an oldie but a goodie. If an airline staff member handing out upgrades is choosing between someone who looks like they stepped off the set of Mad Men, or a person who just dropped their entire packet of Twisties down their trackie-daks, you can bet Don Draper's gonna get that upgrade.
Sunday best, business casual or brunch with your posh gran are all appropriate upgrade styles.
3. ACTUALLY CHECK YOUR EMAILS
No one wants to do this, but promotional emails from your airline will often offer promotions. Skim read for a cheeky upgrade offer.
4. PLAY NICE
This one is simple, but necessary. Check-in staff aren't going to feel kindly to the cranky passenger demanding an upgrade because they "don't want to be shoved in cattle class".
Put on your best smile, roll out manners your mother would be proud of and ask for that upgrade nicely.
5. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
Of course, if you're getting bumped left right and centre, your bags have been lost, you've missed your connecting flight and you're about to lose your proverbial marbles, then you are allowed to get a little mad.
Don't throw a wobbly, but be firm. Tell them that you're unimpressed, deserve better, and are about to hit send on a withering tweet to your 10,000 followers.
6. TRAVEL ALONE
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person flying alone must be in want of a seat that's not next to a baby. You'll have a much better chance of getting an upgrade if you're travelling solo, especially if you get chucked into a less-than-ideal cabin class seat.
7. FIND THE RIGHT TIME TO FLY
This is a tricky balance to get right.
Early morning and late night flights will see less crowded planes, and usually a more relaxed staff partial to letting you sit where you want. (Unless it's a domestic weekday flight full of business travellers.)
Conversely, if your flight is half full, your chances of getting that coveted upgrade are slim. A full flight (or a slightly oversold one) is the Upgrade Witching Hour.
However, if you choose to fly during a busy period, and don't get that upgrade, prepare to be wedged between Guy That Won't Stop Talking To You and Sleeping Woman In The Aisle Seat.
8. VOLUNTEER TO BE BUMPED
These super-booked flights can work to your advantage in other ways too. It's common practice nowadays for airlines to overbook their flights and when this happens staff will call on volunteers to take a later flight.
If you're booked on a long-haul flight with a premier airline, volunteering to get bumped will often mean a sweet first class seat in return.
However, double-check this before you go raising your hand, because no-frills airlines and domestic routes don't tend to offer upgrades.
9. GET THERE EARLY
Those punctuality lectures from your parents were spot on - the early bird really does catch the worm. Get to the airport early. If you're one of the first people at the check-in desk, you'll also be one of the first to request an upgrade.
10. NO HARM IN ASKING
When it comes to an upgrade, chancing your luck is probably the best tip we can give you. Just plaster a smile on your face, be polite, and ask if there are any upgrades going.