Flights are made infinitely more exciting and enjoyable if you manage to nab a seat upgrade. The high costs of Business Class and First Class mean many Britons rarely get the luxury of flying out of Economy. Scoring an upgrade for free is consequently the aspiration of many – but how can it be done? An ex British Airways cabin crew manager has revealed one way an upgrade can be possible.
Simon J Marton, author of Journey of a Reluctant Air Steward, explained a trick to getting an upgrade that comes with a slight catch.
He revealed that if the airline is seeking to bump passengers off a flight it could be worth volunteering as it could lead to a later upgrade.
“If you are in no particular hurry to get somewhere and the airline is asking pax to bump themselves off – then this could be your bargaining tool,” Marton told Express.co.uk.
“It could be the aircraft is weight restricted, an important piece of cargo has to travel, or that a group or solo traveller has to be on that flight as a matter of urgency.”
So what happens if you decide to volunteer to be bumped off? “At very least, if you voluntarily remove yourself, you will usually be entitled to DBC (Denied Boarding Compensation),” said Marton.
“From there, you could show flexibility by offering that if needed you could travel with another carrier or even bump yourself off the next one if needed- then you could request an upgrade if your actions might ‘help’ the airline.”
For those particularly keen to try this method of getting an upgrade there’s an – albeit risky – way of boosting your chances.
“If you are desperate for an upgrade, then you could book yourself onto a scheduled flight that is notoriously busy and possibly check in a little later than you usually dare,” Marton said. “I’m not saying this will work but it is an angle.”
It’s also worth dressing smartly – it could make no difference at all but you never know.
“It does no harm,” explained Marton. “It may not work, but if you look like you could be dressed appropriately for an upgrade, then you stand a better chance in that regard than someone in casual attire.”
However, Marton also issued a caution to travellers who become too obsessed with the idea of an upgrade.
“Above all, don’t chase it like an obsession or a holy grail,” he advised. “It is just a better seat.
“You can buy Champagne from Morrisons, Lidl or Tesco from just £14 a bottle, crack it open before you check in, and won’t have spent £1,000’s! Admittedly, it feels great to turn left at the entrance door and be treated like a king, but keep it in perspective. There are people dying in the world and it’s just a cabin.
“I couldn’t upgrade everyone, but I did try to do it for the most deserving customers, such as those who had endured horrible experiences immediately before joining us, or those who were known to me as frequent flyers and merited an upgrade for a particular reason.
“If you’re that desperate for it, then save up or become an airline employee, a travel writer or a travel agent! There’s way more of a chance that you’ll experience the prestige of flying in a comfy seat.”
There’s also a booking code on your plane ticket you can look out for that means you could be in with a chance of an upgrade. Passengers should keep an eye out for tickets that have a Y or B booking code on them.