an airline message board that says first/business and economy class check-in

10 Tips for Getting an Airfare Upgrade

Unfortunately, it takes a little bit more than just a "puppy dog" face to get a seat upgrade. It's not impossible though. You just have to know the tricks of the trade. Here are 10 ways to get a upgraded from economy to business class or higher.

  1. Join an Airline Loyalty Program

    Try to earn elite status to get priority for upgrades. If you select an airline and remain dedicated to it, you are more likely to earn enough rewards to get a business class upgrade easily.

  2. Travel Solo

    When you travel alone, it's easier to upgrade than when the airline has to accommodate the needs of a large group. If you can travel alone, they are more likely to honor your request.

  3. Select a Carrier with a Good Points System

    Keep in mind that all points systems are not equal. Some airlines will not allow you to use points to upgrade. You should choose a company that allows you to use points to upgrade to a premium economy or business.

  4. Try Checking in Late

    After the economy seats are filled, you're more likely to be checked into business class. This is not a risk-free strategy as you may not get a seat on the flight at all. If you're traveling with someone, you may be separated.

  5. Be a Volunteer

    Often, an airline may offer a flight upgrade to people who voluntarily give up their seat on the plane. If you have some extra time, you may score a free upgrade and a flight voucher. This may be a strategy that will work for you.

  6. Pay the Full Price

    If you pay full price for a ticket, airlines are more likely to honor requests for free upgrades as a courtesy because they know that you were offered no concessions on the price. It's like built-in security.

  7. Look the Part

    If you look the part, you're more likely to get an upgrade than if you don't. If you fly in casual attire, you're less likely to be upgraded for free.

  8. Date, Marry, or Befriend a Flight Attendant

    As a family member, you can purchase discounted business class tickets. If you know someone who works for an airline, you'll increase your chances of getting a free upgrade.

  9. Schmooze and Be Charming

    A charming personality will get you a long way at the ticket counter. Though this strategy is less effective than it was in previous years, it doesn't hurt. Be articulate and professional, and you're more likely to get a free upgrade.

  10. Research Your Plane

    Choosing a plane with a large first class or business class cabins increases your chances of obtaining an upgrade. You can view this information on various airline seat map websites.

Last Updated: February 12, 2024