I Just Experienced A Real Life Free Flight Upgrade On British Airways!


I just experienced a real-life free flight upgrade on my latest British Airways flight out of London Heathrow to Nice. The seat in question was in Club World row 1 and is pictured above. I share the story in detail below.

Why Is It Worth Flying In Club From Gatwick?

A major reason to fly on British Airways in Club is that the lounges are particularly good in Gatwick as the Terminal is so bad and tatty. Any alternative option is better than waiting in the rest of the terminal building. The British Airways lounges at Gatwick are the one redeeming feature of flying our of Gatwick’s South Terminal. They are both excellent and were only quite recently designed and put together. I have reviewed both in detail below. Of course, a free flight upgrade onboard will not get you into the pre-flight lounge.

British Airways Airport Lounge Reviews At London Gatwick

Review: British Airways Gatwick South First Class Lounge

In "Transport"

Being brutally honest, in looks and seating alone, the First class lounge at Gatwick South is no better than the Business Club Lounge at Gatwick South which I have already reviewed with pictures. In fact the seating on offer is… Read More.

Review & Pictures Of Gatwick South British Airways Business Lounge

In "Transport"

The new British Airways Business lounge for Club passengers and First lounge is open at London Gatwick’s South Terminal and it is an absolute cracker. Following a late opening due to electrical teething troubles, the lounge is now fully functional… Read More.

Free Lounge Access At Gatwick

If you want to fly on British Airways for free like I do, and get free lounge access (you need to book a Club Europe or Club World or First Class flight to access these lounges) your best bet is to use credit cards. I have outlined the three best British Airways Avios air mile credit cards with a referral bonus to enable you to collect miles and to get you into that lounge and onto that plane, in style, as quickly as possible.

The Free Flight Upgrade On British Airways

I have detailed my review of this British Airways flight out of Gatwick separately, so you can see what the rest of my flight was like. I now focus on the woman who got upgraded from Economy, to Club Europe for free on this British Airways flight.

To get a free flight upgrade, you have 2 options:
Self-upgrade but this can have horrific consequences… Or break your seat, in which case the airline is obliged to move you to the only seat available on the plane. If there is no spare seat in Economy (as was the case on this flight) you will be upgraded to the next class, for free.

On this flight, a seat in Economy was indeed broken, it reclined but it wouldn’t go back upright which is required for takeoff. So sure enough, as expected, seeing as there was no spare seat available in Economy, the passenger was moved next to me, at the front of the plane in Club World.

But this passenger was not as lucky as it seemed. You see, it is not legal to take off and land on a seat that is reclined, but you can “enjoy” your flight on a seat that reclines and won’t go back up. Once we had taken off, the lady was moved back to her Economy Seat.

Was she happy? Goodness no, she had a rather aggressive conversation with the Club Word air hostess on why it was not good enough that she had to return to her Euro Traveller seat. At one point I thought she might start a fight, but the air hostess remained calm and firm and the passenger was marched back to enjoy the seat she booked until landing.

So the moral of this particular event is never to intentionally break the recline on your seat because it won’t get you a permanent upgrade on your flight, just a temporary one (assuming there is no other seat available in Economy). At least not on British Airways!

Now a broken seat belt would have been a different story…

You can read all of my European British Airways Flight Reviews to find out what the Heathrow route is like, but on this particular flight, I flew from Gatwick.

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