Sitting in coach but craving an upgrade to first class? We hear you. It may not be easy scoring those elusive travel perks, but we’re upping your chances with the top tips and secret tricks for scoring a better seat on that airplane, straight from flight attendants and travel professionals who know how to make it happen. First class, here you come!
Be the last to board
The takeaway? Don’t be so quick to jump in line when they starting boarding the plane. Best case scenario, there may just be an open seat waiting for you in first class…
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Make your case at the gate
The takeaway: Whatever your strategy, put the wheels in motion at the gate, preferably before the plane is close to boarding and the workers at the gate are bombarded by passengers wanting to get on the flight.
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Opt for the least popular flight times
The takeaway? If it makes no difference to you, it might be worth choosing that less attractive red-eye flight in order to increase your chances at an upgrade — or even just a more comfortable flight experience. Odds are you won’t find yourself stuffed between strangers, and possibly even discover your row is empty altogether. Stretching out across the three seats with no one reclining the seat in front of you definitely qualifies as a perk.
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Ask with a smile
The takeaway? Speak up, and do it with a smile! You never know when a seat might be open for the first person to just ask…
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Don’t abuse the call button
The takeaway? Consider how annoying it might be to get summoned to seat after seat via that call bell and make your requests discreetly in person. That could just be the ticket to some food and drink perks. Read on for some more things flight attendants don’t like you doing.
Hope for an overbooked flight
The takeaway: While you can’t predict overbooking or flight issues, try to take it with a grain of salt – you never know when that unexpected cause for delay might leave you open for an upgrade!
Volunteer to get “bumped”
The takeaway: Next time the gate announces that your flight is full and they are in search of volunteers to check their carry-on or change their flight, consider being that volunteer. The gate crew may just be so relieved to get the flight back on track that your good deed could score you an upgraded seat on the alternate flight, or first-class perks you might otherwise have missed out on.
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Be loyal to your airline and “look the part”
The takeaway: Sticking with the same airline, and being able to play the customer loyalty card can’t hurt when inquiring about available perks. Looking professional or put-together also might work in your favour.
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Use an inconvenience to your advantage
The takeaway? That broken tray table or impossible-to-adjust seat belt might be the thing that scores you a free pass to first, so make a point to mention it to the flight attendant, but make sure you do so politely. Regardless of whether or not it results in an upgrade, there’s no point in ticking off your flight attendant before the plane even leaves the ground.
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Sign up for reward programs
The takeaway: If there’s a loyalty program you can sign up for, don’t hesitate. Putting yourself on any kind of frequent flyer list will give you priority access over someone who isn’t part of the program, so that’s an immediate advantage you can leverage to your benefit down the road.
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