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How to Get a Flight Upgrade

Spoiler alert:Hacking’ your way to Business Class flights just isn’t a thing. But there is no such thing as this “works-every-time” hack that social hearsay would have you believe.

That is, to put it politely, there’s a lot of BS out there.

My first (and only) free upgrade to Business Class

The first time I ever flew Business Class was on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Bangalore… and it was completely unexpected. You know, one of those surprise upgrades that we have all seen people bragging about on social media, which “always happen to everyone else – just not me”.

Emirates upgrade to Business Class

Following on from that first experience, I became a lot more comfortable with the idea of flying Business. So comfortable, in fact, that I spent my next Business Class experience (a return work flight from Dubai to San Francisco – 3 years later) sleeping for 14 of the 16 hours that we were onboard. Impressive, I know – especially since it was a brand-spanking new A380. That’s the double-decker Airbus with an accompanying bar – a free bar, may I add.

I could not get over the fact that while I had been brushing my knees off the economy seat in front of me for the last decade, there were people stretched out – horizontally – in a chair that could massage them. And I wanted a bit of that life… just a glimpse.

That one flight bumped me up with enough points to attain and retain Silver Status for an entire year. Once you’re at Silver Status with Emirates, there are a whole lot of benefits that you can take advantage of. For example:

  • You can use your miles to purchase an instant upgrade at the airport so, essentially, it’s free.

Upgrade to Etihad Business Class

But there’s also a lot of other permanent airline staff, including engineers, pilots, check-in staff, office staff, and more. How to Get a Flight Upgrade

Both Emirates and Etihad are huge airlines, and Etihad is the UAE’s national airline. Now, one of the major perks of working for the national airline is the heavily discounted flights that are assigned to staff every year. This makes business-class tickets extremely affordable.

So, what’s that travel hack you came here for? If you spend a small fortune on flights, you may have just shed a small tear.

Immoral moral of the story? Befriend someone* who works for a big airline and gets heavily discounted tickets that often go to waste…

This is my secret to frequent and affordable travel. Why? Because I’m willing to take the chances of flying standby with Etihad.

*(Maybe even marry them for unlimited access to aforementioned tickets? Just an idea…)

How to get a flight upgrade: increase your chances

So you’re already high on the tiers of airline rewards and you’ve never had an upgrade? You know no airline staff and can’t imagine getting to know any without feeling like you have an ulterior motive? You are the unluckiest person in the world and the chances of you being selected for a surprise upgrade are negligible. Let’s finish with a handful of other ways that you can increase your chances of getting an airline upgrade:

  • Travel solo – if there’s one seat left in business and you’re flying on your own, then you are more likely to get selected than if you are traveling in a group
  • Politely inform check-in staff about your special occasion – we’ve all seen the ‘just married’ couple jetting off on honeymoon with their feet up and champagne in hand. Don’t try to trick them by telling them it’s your birthday when it’s not; remember, they have your passport in front of them.
  • Volunteer to give up your seat.
  • Dress for business – if you look the part then you naturally increase your upgrade chances.
  • Chance your luck – it won’t hurt to ask, right? Who knows when it could be your lucky day.

Check out top destinations for your next getaway, and let me know if you get an upgrade somewhere along the way!

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How to Get a Flight Upgrade | Travel