Revealed: Myths about flight upgrades

The worst thing about flying? It's uncomfortable, right? Which is why not a single one of us would ever turn down the offer of a flight upgrade.

In fact, so keen are we to try to get that extra leg room and free champagne, that one in six British travellers admit to lying to get a flight upgrade, according to one recent survey.

There are certain things you really shouldn't do when trying to get an upgrade (and yes, lying is one of them). But there are also certain things you can do to boost your chances. So which tricks of the trade when trying to get bumped up a class?

See also: Is this the most luxurious flight cabin ever?

Experts at Expedia have recently revealed the truth about airline upgrades, dispelling a few myths along the way. Take this true or false quiz to see if you'd make the grade.

1) Asking for an upgrade at the check-in desk works
Nope. This is actually very unlikely to work as most airlines will decide any seat changes the day before the flight. What will help you is being a member of the airline's frequent flyer programmes.

2) Dressing smartly will bag you a better seat
Sadly not. A snazzy suitcase and designer suit will make you look like a world-class flyer but it's not likely to help you get a better seat.

3) Signing up to the airline's frequent flier programme will help.
True. And trying and use the same airlines regularly so you build up as many points as possible

4) Asking for an upgrade at the boarding gate gives you a good chance
False. Bearing in mind that you're unlikely to get an upgrade on check in, you're even less likely to nab one at the boarding gate, by which point it'll be far too late. One saving grace is that some airlines sell discounted upgrades at the gate so you might be lucky enough to bag a premium seat for less.

4) Making conversation and smiling is key
False. Being friendly will definitely score you personality points but it's not likely to get you a better seat.

5.)Celebs, journalists and VIPs are likely to be seen as a priority.
Sad but true, according to Expedia researchers.

6) Telling everyone you're newlyweds on your honeymoon is a sure-fire way to the best seats.
False. his myth is so widespread that airline staff are likely to be pretty dubious of your lovey dovey claims. It's likely they've heard it several times before and maybe even had a few people try it that day, so it's better not to mention your marital bliss and keep your dignity.

7) Make friends in high places.
Having friends who work for airlines and who have authority to ask for a flight upgrade definitely helps. So get networking.

Do you have tips on getting a free flight upgrade? Let us know in the comments below.

Ten ways to get a free flight upgrade
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Revealed: Myths about flight upgrades

Keep your eye on the prize: elite status. Airlines will give priority for upgrades to top-tier members. Pick an airline and stick to it. If you are a regular customer you are more likely to get those three coveted letters: SFU (Suitable For Upgrade) next to your name on the passenger list. Also, there are often rewards for accumulating miles quickly (usually over one calendar year) and different "perks" are awarded each time you hit a certain mileage tier.

Points systems are not born equal. For example, with Air Canada, you can only use points for complete bookings in economy or business and cannot use points to upgrade from an economy ticket. If booking on Qantas, you can buy an upgradeable economy ticket and request for an upgrade to premium economy or business. British Airways, on the other hand, makes it nearly impossible for those who fly economy short-haul flights to ever earn enough points to make it to the next level.

Obviously, this might not be possible! But it's worth bearing in mind that if you are travelling as part of a small group, an airline may not be able to upgrade everyone and, therefore, won't upgrade anyone at all.

Checking in late means the economy seats are likely to have been filled, meaning you may get booked directly to business class. This is a very risky strategy, of course, as you chance not being able to get a good seat in economy, or getting split up from your travel partner.

Pick a flight that will be using a plane with a large first class cabin. You can find out this information from sites like Seat Guru.

Have time to spare? Every so often an airline will oversell the flight and will need volunteers to give up their seat. If you don't mind the delay, you can score a flight voucher and/or a free upgrade certificate (they've done this before on Cathay Pacific), and, before long, could find yourself happily snoozing in first class.

If you purchased a full fare ticket and travel on an oversold flight, then you also have more potential for a courtesy upgrade.

This won't be the reason why you get an upgrade, but not being dressed suitably could be why you don't. Take Victoria Beckham - we reckon she's never travelled economy in her life.

Once upon a time, being nice could result in someone at the check-in counter upgrading your seat. Nowadays, stories like that seem more like an urban myth. It may be rare, but it has worked in the past. When experiencing an airline issue, if you ask to speak to management and you articulate yourself in a professional, calm yet confident manner, you can find that you can get a free upgrade (if not this flight, perhaps another for another time) or other perks like free lounge access.

Practicality aside, if all else fails, this is a surefire way of increasing your upgrade odds. Knowing someone working for the airline definitely helps. Even if you can't get an upgrade for free, as family, you can purchase discounted business class tickets.


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