Did you know more than 60% of travellers inquire about upgrades at checkin? If you live with the unfulfilled dream of travelling in First Class because your budgets simply won’t stretch that far… here are 10 quick secrets that will help you score that exclusive seat in First Class.
Do The Basics
Always, always do these basic things- they may not get you an upgrade but they will open the doors to the chance of a free upgrade:
Arrive very early or late.
Sit near a baby.
An Expert Piece Of Advice
Complain if your seat is broken! Sounds simple but travel expert Rick Brown, author of the book ‘Kiss My Baggage Fees and How To Be A Savvy Travel Hacker, recently revealed a little-known rule which could get you into one of those elusive First Class seats.
If your seat is in some way faulty or broken (this includes the seatbelt), then you’re allowed to ask for a new one. “If one is not available in Economy, they have to put you in First.”
If you are unlucky, there will be another fully functioning seat in Economy and you will remain in Economy, but if you are lucky… The moral of this story is that if your seat has any damage on it whatsoever, complain!
There is only one way to score FREE flights (in any class) and that is by playing the credit card game.
A hotel-branded or flight-branded credit card will usually have some sort of built-in upgrade benefit and you can usually collect enough miles for a free flight just by hitting the spending target.
If you are US based and need points, a brilliant way to load up on a massive bonus of points is outlined in our easy guide. Here’s my advice if you specifically want to earn Southwest rapid rewards fast, useful for their soon-to-launch flights to Hawaii.
If you are based in the US our friends at upgraded points have outlined the 18 best ways you can earn lots of Delta SkyMiles so that you can fly for free.
If you are based in the US we have also outlined 21 ways you can earn United mileage plus miles so that you can fly for free.
In the US AND the UK, American Express Rewards convert directly to airline miles. The FREE Amex Gold Card is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of 22,000 Membership Rewards. You can apply for the US card right here. For the UK card, you will need to drop me an email for a link to get extra referral bonus points.
I also have the BA Premium Plus American Express Card which I use in the UK. I spend exactly 10,000 GBP on this card to spark a 2-4-1 voucher plus I get 1.5 Avios per 1GBP spent. If you drop me an email I can supply you with a referral to get an additional 1,000 Avios when you apply (which is currently 26,000 for the Premium Plus card including the 1,000 bonus and 6,000 for the standard free card).
Finally I use the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card which I also use in the UK. If you want to apply for this card and drop me an email, I can supply you with a referral to get you 33,000 Marriott Rewards if you spend 1,000GBP in the first 3 months of membership (3,000 more than usual), which you can also transfer to airline miles if you prefer.
Become A Regular On Your Favourite Airline
Rather than booking on ever-changing airlines, pick one airline and stick to it. Build up status so that you can benefit from free airport lounge access and get yourself at the front of the line with free flight upgrades.
Grow Your Social Media
If an airline knows that you have 100,000 followers on Instagram much like our own luxury travel Instagram channel, they are much more likely to upgrade you as there is value in them giving you a great seat. Let the airline marketing team know what you can offer and this will get you at the front of the queue for an upgrade.
Use AwardNexus And ExpertFlyer To Secure Your Free Mile Flights
If you have collected miles you may still have trouble finding available flights and upgrades. Yes, you can earn enough miles for a one-way upgrade in a couple of months, but without availability, what is the use? If there isn’t space available when you book, it may very well and most likely will open up before your flight. Expert Flyer and Award Nexus allow you to set alerts for when upgrades become available on any flight. The moment British Airways opens up space on your flight, you’ll be notified and can beat the rush.
Pay For It But Get A Big Discount
Book any luxury hotel or premium flight through our luxury travel concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at luxury hotels like Four Seasons, Aman and more… for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our Business and First Class flight prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight prices available online.
Club1Hotels should also be in your arsenal of websites for comparing flight prices as they offer cheap flights in any class along with discounts on 4 and 5 star hotels. Pick up your FREE Club1Hotels membership here.
Finally, compare all quotes with google flights to be 100% sure you are getting the best possible prices.
Sign up to newsletters from expert blogs about flights and offers like HeadforPoints in the UK and View From The Wing in the US. They will update you when a too-good-to-be-true deal comes up.
Signup for email alerts from the airlines
Airlines offer Business and First Class flash sales. These flash sales are almost never officially announced. In the past in these sales, Virgin Atlantic has offered return Upper-Class tickets for less than £1,000 per person to destinations all over the United States. In a similar sale, British Airways offered £1,000 per person returns in business class from London to Beijing or Shanghai (this is the price of an economy ticket).
If you have preferred airline, sign up to their mailing list so you don’t miss out!
You can track as many prices as you like to as many places and dates as you want on google flights. Decide where you want to go. Set up the alert and wait. You never know what price you might get emailed one morning!
Want Another Bargain?
Take a look at our luxury travel auctions, one of the best places to pick up a travel bargain for a fraction of its actual price.
Reviews within this content are solely the opinion of the author and have not been sponsored, influenced, or reviewed by American Express.