Travel Tips for a Free Seat Upgrade to Business-Class or First-Class

BusinessClass
Photo courtesy: jetradar.com

Getting a seat upgrade on flights was a lot easier a couple of years ago but today the scenario has changed and you must consider yourself lucky if you get one for free. Getting a free seat upgrade upon request is difficult in today’s context because of the following reasons 1) It has become a norm for most premium airlines to charge more fees and surcharges unlike in the past 2) the seat upgrade generally happens by the use of some computer algorithm that allocates upgrades to passengers with a good profile automatically 3) oversold flights and 4) increased competition for upgrades because the lower cabin classes aren’t comfortable.

Even though the chances of getting a free upgrade on a flight may be slim because of the reasons cited above you mustn’t give up on trying for one, after all there’s nothing wrong in giving a try!

In any aircraft you’ll find the best seats in the front of the plane, often during your flight journeys you must have come across passengers sitting on wider seats with leather covers and more leg room space at the front, yes you got it right this is where the best cabin class is located and as you move away from the front to the rear you will find the other lower cabin classes.  To enjoy business class you need to either pay the price in full (cash or miles) or follow my tips that i will be listing below to get one but mind you this is like a game of chance and you should be really lucky.

The first class on domestic flights has evolved over the years, today most carriers are offering more merits of flying first class on domestic destinations that go beyond food & drink. For instance Hawaiian Airlines in the US is offering lie-flat seats as an added feature for passengers flying on its First-Class to Hawaii. My advice to you is if you are flying on a domestic route you might be better off flying on the less expensive economy if the carrier’s First-Class is not top of the line, in other words choose first class on a domestic route if and only if you are getting more comforts beyond just food & drink.

When it comes to international flights I recommend always buying the more expensive Business or First-Class as it’s really worth the money you spend considering that most flights are longer and the amenities and services you get are one-of-a-kind that really make a difference. The best part of flying Business class on international flights in the present days is the seat comfort, most seats convert to beds and this is the icing on the cake! Apart from convertible seats most Business Class deals come with special curated food items & beverage and other value added services like early check-in, early boarding and airport transfers to name a few. The point to keep in mind is this is an expensive class and you must be willing to spend more bucks to enjoy the comforts of the higher cabin classes.

Your dress code matters a lot

If you are looking for a seat upgrade make sure you are wearing the best attire to impress the agent at the check-in counter. You can be sure of being denied a free seat upgrade by the agent even if there are seat vacancies just because you are not well dressed. My advice for you is dressing in casual clothes with flip-flops will not take you anywhere in your quest for a free upgrade you need to be dressed in a formal suit with neat looking shoes to impress the agent. The whole point here is the agent needs to be convinced that you are worthy of flying in their most expensive class.

Timing of the request and being courteous is the key

When you are making a request for a seat upgrade make sure you make a request in a courteous manner so that the agent will not find you demanding and there are more chances of getting one if you use words like ‘please’. The timing of the request is also very important for getting granted a free upgrade, approach the agent at the check-in counter at a time when there’s no one around competing for the same and often the seat upgrades are allocated to deserving passengers at the end when there are no-shows by some passengers in the business class. So technically you can expect a seat upgrade at the check-in counter, gate of your terminal and even onboard a plane which is very rare. Just make sure you request the seat upgrade at all the three points so that you don’t miss out on being granted one even at the last minute.

Sometimes it all happens without your knowledge!

Sometimes you could be lucky let’s say your preferred premium economy class gets completely filled up and there are too many unsold Business-Class seats then in such a scenario in most probability the computer algorithm might grant you a seat upgrade to Business class at no extra cost. Generally such an automatic seat upgrade happens if you have a nice customer profile with the airline you are planning to fly with, for example your miles history plays a big role in the computer assigning a free upgrade to you.

Don’t bypass your Travel Agent

Going through a travel agent for a seat upgrade is sometimes the best way of getting a free business class or first class ticket. Most of the times the travel agents are well connected with the airline staff and have access to seats that are not released to the normal passengers. Make sure you take your travel agent’s advice before you make your own trials, sometimes just a small comment by a travel agent on your reservation can also increase your chances of being granted a seat upgrade by the airline staff.

Look for business class sales

The other most straight forward way of getting access to a business class or first class seat is buying during a sale on these higher classes.

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