Do you dream of traveling in business or first class with a coach class ticket? Here's how to get an airline upgrade for free !

You don’t understand airline fares? That’s normal! An algorithm works for you and it’s sometimes the same thing to get an airline upgrade... for free !

Yes, it is really possible to get an  airline upgrade on a plane, of course it is not necessarily won but it is worth trying, here are my 5 tips to put all the chances on your side.

How to Get an Airline Upgrade for Free

First classe LA PREMIÈRE Air France

1. Buy each ticket separately to have a better chance of being upgraded

If there are 2 or more of you on the same reservation file (party), it is very unlikely that you will both get an upgrade at the same time.

Knowing that if you are both on the same reservation file, you need to have 2 seats available in the next class, it is unlikely… but it is possible but rare.

2. Never order a special meal

If you have a specific meal request, for example for diabetics or a vegetarian meal, and if you are eligible for an upgrade, this meal cannot be served in first or business or premium economy class.

This can cause a computer problem when upgrading because your file contains a “meal” requirement, so if you want to maximize your chances of being upgraded on the plane, do not order specific meals if you can of course.

3. You have more chance of being upgraded on weekends!

Business class like Air France’s is popular with businessmen and women who of course travel less on weekends, so there is a greater chance of being upgraded on a weekend than during the week.

You have little chance of being upgraded during the summer or Christmas vacations, as planes are completely full.

For example, if you are traveling long distance flight I suggest you focus on quieter periods such as January, February, October or November.

4. To be upgraded, dress well !

Even if you have been upgraded electronically, at check-in, the hostess or greeter may find that your attire is considered inappropriate. The result? You will automatically be downgraded, and you will be absolutely fine!

There are no specific rules for proper attire, but avoid jogging suits, flip-flops, tank tops…

5. Be loyal to your alliance or airline

An airline alliance is an alliance of several companies, such as Skyteam (which includes Delta Airlines, Air France, KLM, Aerimexico, Air Europe, Alitalia…).

The fact of being loyal allows you to earn miles and especially to have a customer status (Basic, Silver, Gold, Platinum …) according to the annual number of trips you make. Find out how to earn miles with Flying Blue, the Air France frequent flyer program.

6. Arriving early or late doesn’t make much difference…

Yes, you may have noticed that some sites suggest arriving very early or at the last minute, except that this will not outperform you.

Why not? Because you can be upgraded up to the last minute, i.e. a few minutes before boarding, depending on the capacity of the flight, it could be overbooked and the availability of seats in premium economy and business classes. So even if you arrive late, a surprise is still possible.

Arriving early won’t help either, as the airline hopes to sell tickets until check-in closes.

The only solution if you arrive early, is simply to make it clear at check-in that you want a paid upgrade, and then you can study what you are offered: payment, miles, or miles + cash.

7. Other ways to get an upgrade…

Should I ask for an upgrade when I check in ?

I have given you some tips, of course as they are based on my own experience, it is not systematic but it is worth trying because traveling in business is really nice.

Finally, you can always ask the question with a big smile when you check in, who knows… it worked for me 3 times in the last 5 years, just by asking Air France and Delta.

How do I purchase an upgrade?

Depending on the type of ticket you have, it is possible to request an upgrade from your airline on the day of your departure. If this is available, you will be offered several options to pay for your upgrade:

  • Miles
  • Miles + Cash
  • Cash

Depending on your mileage balance and your budget, you will be able to evaluate what is most advantageous for you. If you are short on miles, consider applying for an American Express card. You could earn miles on all your purchases!

For example, on tickets that I bought between Montreal and Paris on Air France in economy class, it was sometimes possible to upgrade to business class for 40,000 flying blue miles or $500.

This is still much cheaper than buying a Business Class ticket directly. Don’t forget to check out my promotional codes that work where I give good deals on hotels, banking, clothes and sometimes travel.