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How To: Upgrade Your Flight

Updated: Jan 20, 2021


Nothing begins a relaxing vacation faster than being cramped in the middle seat on an 8 hour flight. Sign me up!

How do you get an upgrade? Beg? Dress up? Bat your eyelashes? Tell a sob story (compellingly realistic)? You are hoping to easily get bumped up to first class for free. Does that even exist?


Maybe you could get that upgrade as a freebie years ago. Those “upgrade gods” haven’t struck us yet. 99.9% of the time we want an upgrade, it came from us opening up the wallets and handing over the big bucks!

Don’t misunderstand us, lately we have had pretty amazing experiences on economy flights while traveling overseas. The seats are comfy, there’s tons to watch on the screens, and while it’s not four star Michelin dining, the food is pretty tasty. We do admit that we flash our huge smiles, turn on the charm, and ask for an extra free bottle of wine in economy and the flight attendants are tossing them our way. #baberuthinthehouse

But… sometimes we want to be spoiled JUST a little bit more!


You won't get the upgrade by throwing yourself on the floor and screaming like Veruca Salt,

“Where’s my golden ticket! I want my golden ticket.”

With limited access, rules that the airlines must follow, frequent fliers getting priority, you may not be getting that “golden ticket”. #fingerscrossed

Is there a secret to obtaining an upgrade? There are ways to “possibly” get that upgrade. It’s not always guaranteed but it is nice to give it a try. You never know, you may end up in the fancy seats and not by just showing a little cleavage.

Tips and tricks for that possible upgrade:

1. Fly often.. aka All the time!

This seems like a no brainer but there is a lot of truth to it. The more you fly, the more perks you earn.

Fly 25,000 miles a year and you could get that coveted upgrade. Fly over 100,000 miles a year and it’s almost a guarantee that you will be drinking champagne in the sparkling crystal flute as you dine in the pajamas that are provided by the eager flight attendants.

Airlines will prioritize who gets those semi-free upgrades based on the miles that the passenger has flown. More miles under your belt over someone else that has flown a little less, and you are sitting high and mighty in the front.

Hitting a wall when it comes to choosing your flight. Check out our seven techniques that have helped us when getting our tickets.

2. Use your miles

Even if you aren’t a frequent flier, you may be able to use your miles to upgrade on your flight. One example for us, as we have flown on British Airways, we maximize the Avios points but still have to pay the remaining balance that the Avios doesn’t cover.

Flying British Airways international, we have paid around $250.00 for a roundtrip ticket in premium economy ticket while using about 40,000 Avios points. It does pay off in the end to use to points but know in the beginning, to accrue the points takes time.

We have also used the miles for a first class ticket in Europe and spent about $50.00 and about 20,000 points.

Check out our blog about using miles to fly.

3. Airlines overbook...learn to be savvy

Maybe this is where the batting of the eyelashes comes in handy. Have you heard over the intercom while waiting at the gate that the airline is willing to pay passengers to be bumped to another flight because the flight was overbooked?

Volunteer your seat and take a later flight.

Get the upgrade if you aren’t in any hurry to head back home. Got a few hours to spare and have a flexible schedule? Take the “bait” and fly home later. Ask for an upgrade for the “inconvenience.” Maybe even shed a tear. #oscarwin

4. Have a lucky day?!

What if your airline has a functional error aka it’s broken! The airline has computer glitches! The computers go kaput and you are pissed!

But wait! It could play in your favor. While the airline is frantically trying to fix the problem, you could be playing the “upgrade field game”. Ask for another airline and waive the fee. Better yet, ask for that upgrade for the inconvenience of being “put out”.

When our flight was canceled the day before we were to fly from Nashville to London last year, I didn’t beg, I told them to get us on the next flight with an upgrade. I wouldn’t relent. There was no negotiation. I wasn’t rude or demeaning but I stood my ground and demanded to be heard. I was. I got my upgrade. Score!

My unlucky day turned out to be an amazing experience. I learned that I could still get my way without piss and vinegar but with sugar and an undertone in my voice that showed I meant business. Upgraded and happy! #sweetashoney

5. Buy the ticket

This could go many different directions but when the sob stories and batting of the eyes don’t work, then buy the ticket.

Case in point: we reserved an economy ticket using points plus a fee; so the tickets were almost free. When we arrived at the airport, we asked if there was an upgrade available, There was and the price was right. We took it. Easy peasy.

It’s funny, the night before we were to fly out, I looked online to see what the cost would be to upgrade my ticket and I balked at the price. Forget it. I wasn’t willing to pay the “several thousand dollars” to upgrade.

At the airport the next day, I couldn’t help but ask how much it would be to upgrade. They told me the price. Only a few hundred dollars more than what I paid in the first place. I decided right then, to buy the upgraded ticket and I still saved in the end!

6. Ask for the upgrade

It doesn't hurt to ask. Every time we walk in to the airport, we ask how much it will be to upgrade. Some times, we gasp at the extravagant prices. We could live for a year at the price that is quoted. Other times, the price is right and we take it. So glad when we do.

Don’t be shy, ask. If it doesn’t work for you, then move on. Enjoy the flight. If it does work, bask in the moment!

In the end, is there a rhyme or reason for upgrading? Is there a trick? Can the economy be just as enjoyable as the upgraded classes? You decide that. The most important part is to enjoy the journey!

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