Free Upgrades: How You Can Fly First Class Without a Specific Ticket

If there’s one topic that thousands of travellers focus on annually, it’s achieving a first class ticket upgrade without shelling out for a full-price ticket. The elusive upgrade has been a popular target for travellers since its introduction, largely due to the perceived luxury of first class travel and the often ludicrous costs of upgrading a ticket manually.

But beyond strange theories and luck-based lines of questioning, there’s not much information on how to earn a first class upgrade. We met with some travel experts and asked for their opinions on the best way to gain a free upgrade to first class. Tired of travelling in cramped coach? Read on and learn how to upgrade that ticket without upgrading the cost of your flight.

Fly often? Use your miles for a ticket upgrade.

There’s no need to spend thousands of miles on a ticket upgrade – by asking the ticketing agent nicely, you may be able to gain a seat in the first class cabin simply by demonstrating that you fly with a specific airline often. Airlines have found that most of their business comes from a small selection of travellers – let them know that you are one and you might score a free upgrade.

See empty seats? Ask politely for a free upgrade.

Once a flight has left the airport, the cost of upgrading your seat to a more luxurious one is, quite literally, nothing. If you can see empty spaces in the first of business class cabins, politely asking one of the flight attendants could help you secure a free upgrade.

Alternatively, a number of airlines offer first class seats in exchange for shifting your business to a later flight. If you are seated on an overbooked flight and don’t mind waiting an extra hour or two, consider offering to be ‘bumped’ in exchange for a complimentary first class upgrade.