Upgrade on Flights
Is it possible to blag an upgrade on a flight? Any of you been jammy enough to get into first class?

Good luck. Airlines are getting more and more stingy about upgrades. There are still a few good scenarios, but most budget backpackers won't fall into those. One, be a high-mileage frequent flier. This gives you an elevated status with the airline. They may give you a complimentary upgrade, but only if you've bought a full fare coach seat. Another way is to use your frequent flier miles. Most airlines will let you upgrade by cashing in a certain number (usually a lot) of miles. A third way is to be flying on your honeymoon. Seriously. I read a survey once where airline gate personnel were likely to give a premium class upgrade to honeymooners about 75% of the time.

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Take the time to talk to people who can't possibly offer you anything and you'll be amazed at how much you gain.
I have gotten upgrades several times, my then 13 yo son once an upgrade while traveling on a frequent flyer ticket (he was an unaccompanied minor whose ticket was from a high mileage traveler). You need to look and act the part. Preference will be to high mileage travelers, neatly dressed professionals who look like they belong in first class. Don't be pushy or ask for it, just express interest in whether the flight is full, be pleasant, be polite.

Don't count on it...Hopefully airlines will give the extra business/first class seats to their employees who are paying a fee for the seat and not a free upgrade to someone who bought the cheapest coach seat possible ;)) Good luck though...Maybe you will luck out...And they will figure it out if you just try and sit down in first class...They address everyone with their names so they will have a roster of who is supposed to be sitting where...;) They are trying to make the ticket price for a first class ticket seem worth it(usually about $10,000 roundtrip) by using their names etc...
I was upgraded once after my flight was delayed. I didn't have to ask, but my dad had gotten the ticket for me with his frequent flyer miles and he flew quite frequently with that airline.
theres a Moderator on www.eurotrip.com that is a flight attentdant for united airlines , she says the pretty much no way u can get an upgrade these days but a few years ago if they a had a pretty empty first class section they'll upgrade a person maybe 2

but these days she said the "bosses" of most airlines doesnt allow it and now comes with heaps of paper work and explaining to do

but eh u never know

lifes a train
When I flew to Washington with Virgin Atlantic the person next to me was randomly upgraded. He was a backpacker so they don't just take the smartest dressed people. I think they want to fill first or something.

Also they gave out first upgrades when the flight was delayed coming back.

I guess upgrades depend on the airline!

"Hard work never killed anyone - but I figure why take the chance" - Ronald Reagan
I don't know whether a gate agent will upgrade you randomly based on what you are wearing, but lately I have taken pains when flying to wear a clean collared shirt, pressed pants, even if they are simply travel khakis, and have as my luggage a black travelpack, so the straps fold away. On two of my last four flights I got upgraded to First or Business Class, with Emirates Airlines Dubai-London and Air Canada London-Toronto. Again, maybe I would have got the upgrade even if I had been wearing dreads, a tie-dyed shirt and ripped military pants but I doubt it...

Wait...there's animals running two by two across my lawn, I'll call you back...
The last time I could get an upgrade with United Airlines was five years ago, flying from Chicago to Philadelphia. The girlfriend and I got from economy (VUSA coupon) to first class for no apparent reason; both classes had empty seats and we hadn't asked for an upgrade.

Traveling is not a hobby... it is a way of life!
Most airlines won't upgrade people unless economy is oversold and there are spare seats in the higher classes.
I've been upgraded twice and my partner also has been upgraded twice (we weren't travelling together). We didn't get to first class but business class is still much better then economy!

My tips are:

1. Travel on your own. Much more likely to be one seat then two available.

2. Be a member of the airline's frequent flyer programme.

3. Fly stand by - my partner got upgraded last week on Sydney to Auckland flight (ok its only 3 hours but still!) as he wanted to get on an earlier flight and agreed to go stand by.

4. Check in early. The two times I've been upgraded I checked in about 4 hours before the flight (as they were both from Singapore to Australia and my father was livinig in S'pore and dropped me off at the airport on his way to work - muhc cheaper and easier then me getting a cab there!)

In all the above cases, you need to dress nicely and be nice and polite to the check in staff!

No idea why they work - they just have worked for me in the past!
tip from friend_of_small_sis_of_knighton - apparently this works more often than not for her:

- dress smart, but not over smart - somewhere between shell suit and business suit. And look like you wear it normally, not just dressing up
- don't check in first or last, but maybe somewhere towards the end
- as you check in, lean on the counter and ask in a tired voice 'is the flight terribly full today?' as if you can't bear to be in a crowded section

apparently this works. Never tried it, and can't quite see how it does, seeing as though it's mainly the gate agents who select for upgrade - although it is possible to have a note put on screen when they're searching for suitable pax (I've had my seat changed from aisle to window, my original full choice at the gate before now)

Peru pics coming soon to a website near you ... we hope!
If you are just a "regular" traveller you will have almost no chance to get upgraded. As pointed out in p9 airlines will usually only upgrade if economy is overbooked. In thoses cases they will first upgrade Platinum members, then Gold members etc. Usually nothing left for the plebs...

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
It depends on who is working the flight; first upgrades go to high yield tickets and elite level frequent flyers, next the upgrades go to employees and family (this is important for karma), generally there is nothing left after this. If I personally need to upgrade a customer on a flight I am working; after the above have been tended to, I am going to look for the old timer couple or the single parent traveling with the 10 year old kid. Completely unsolicited, these folks are really going to enjoy the experiance. I've upgraded a backpacker exactly twice, neither of them asked for the upgrade and both times they were decked out sharp in their 'travel costume' ... and I let 'em know exactly why I was upgrading them. Feel free to ask, but atleast for me, that isn't the approach.

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Upgrades do happen, not to me yet unfortunately, but I do live in hope. I think that if the boarding deadline is getting closer, and the airline has not sold all their seats then there is more chance of an upgrade, as they will more likely sell an economy seat, than a first class one, so why not free some up. But I guess it depends on how the lovely lady behind the desk is feeling. I say try but don't expect.

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My friend and I once waited in the wrong queue at the check-in. By the time we realised and checked-in at the right queue we were last and there was no room for us left, seatwise.

SO they were forced to upgrade us to 1st class! Woof!

I've been on so many flights in my life in the past 20 years and it only happened once that I got an upgrade. It happened only about a month ago on a flight from Paris to Berlin. A couple of people got upgraded to Business class but only because there was an overbooking on the economy class
Several years ago (1996), I was flying out of London, and decided to go to the Birtish Airways office near Piccadilly to organise the flight (to pick a seat) and I just asked if I could be upgraded and I was. However, after that on several flights I've tried to get upgraded at the check-in, even when I was at the check-in 8 hours early (JFK), it hasn't worked. So, I think the good old times have passed. :-(

"It is good to have an end to a journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end."
I've been upgraded to Business and I have no idea why, I just got on the plane and wondered why Qantas had such big plush seats until I realized that I was in Business. I then spent a few moments talking to myself (out loud) wondering if I was in the right seat and if I should tell someone that I wasn't suppossed to be in Business. I wasn't dressed all that nice (but was wearing tidy clean clothes) and wonder if perhaps the check in lady saw my flights and took pity on me (Madrid-Rome-Singapore-Hong Kong-Aukland----no stops just layovers!!) That was one flight I never wanted to end!!!