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How to get a free flight upgrade

Getting your flight upgraded is most certainly one of the best feelings in life – especially if it doesn’t cost you a penny. What, you didn’t think that was possible? Well, according to frequent flier and points expert Gilbert Ott, even the ordinary occasional flier can get a free upgrade without having to use any of their air miles. The key to getting a free flight upgrade – and, in general, scoring cheap tickets - is to be flexible.

One nifty trick to get a free upgrade is by looking into oversold flights and using the schedule changes in your advantage. In most cases, if the flight is oversold, the airline company will ask for volunteers who would be willing to take the next flight. Most people would opt out of this solution, as it means reaching their destination later – which could be a nightmare if you have a connecting flight to catch or an important business meeting – which is where the flexibility plays a crucial role. If you’ve booked a ticket on an oversold flight, simply volunteer to take the next one and the airline would return you a substantial amount of your money as a compensation for the inconvenience. What’s more, in most cases you’ll be allowed to fly in the business class seats at the front of the plane. So, you’re not only getting your money back – and essentially flying for free – but you can also get an upgrade too.

Free flight upgrade

It's also a good idea to book your ticket for ‘quiet’ days – such as bank holidays. People, travelling business class are less likely to fly during these times, which means that a good portion of the business class seats remains available. This instantly increases your chances of getting a free upgrade; the key here is being polite and courteous with the airline staff. Also, try to arrive as early as possible as your flight might only have one or two upgrade places available and they’re usually handed out on a first-come-first-serve basis. As a rule of thumb, Skyscanner advises on checking in ten hours before your flight’s scheduled departure. Worst case scenario, your plan backfires and you’ll have to spend a few hours in Starbucks but chances are you can get a free upgrade which definitely sweetens the deal.

On the other hand, if you’re not exactly an early bird, you might also have a chance to get a free upgrade. Be late but don’t reserve your seat; if your flight is overbooked, and airlines often overbook flights to compensate for no-shows, your seat might be assigned to someone else. If that happens and if there are free seats in the business or first class, there’s a high chance that the airline might bump you a class to compensate you for the inconvenience.

Of course, if you have air miles, upgrading to a premium class seat is even easier. Join the airline’s loyalty program – even if you’re at the lowest level, you’ll still get rewards, which in many cases include free upgrades.

For more tips on how to score cheap flights or enjoy airfare perks for free, check out and its air travel related tips.

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  1. Pingback: Frequent Flyer: Myths and Truths » Travel Blog

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