Want to Get Upgraded? Try These Tips

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The frequent flyer experts Flight Hacks identify their top tips for getting a free flight upgrade and clear up some of the mystery behind seat allocation.

Here are their 5 tips for getting a free upgrade to First:

Be Polite
There are no strict criteria on how airline staff choose who gets upgraded, but research has revealed that 82 percent would be more likely to choose a polite passenger. Simply being friendly and nice automatically increases your chances.    

Loyalty is Paramount 

Research shows that 80 percent of airline crew say that customers in an airline’s frequent flier program are more likely to receive a free upgrade. 

Travel Alone or During Quiet Times 

This might seem obvious, but a single person on an empty flight is much more likely to get an upgrade. Research suggests that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of cabin crew are more inclined to offer a free upgrade to a passenger who is flying alone. And flying in the middle of the week or at off-peak times also increases your chances, as the plane is less likely to be full.  

Dress to Impress

That’s right: Data has found that 59 percent of cabin crew are more likely to upgrade a well-dressed passenger. Dressing smartly and looking like a frequent flyer is a great tactic to maximize your chances.   
If Possible, Be Flexible 
Government data found that in the first quarter of 2023, more than 70,000 passengers could not board planes due to overbooking. Most of these did so voluntarily, earning them some kind of reward or upgrade. 

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.