How to... get an upgrade at the airport

Essential tips on getting that all-important flight upgrade.

EDGAR staff June 15, 2014

Any flight where you get to rub shoulders with two of the greatest football players ever has to go down as a good one. But if you want to share your next trip with Pelé and Ronaldo in First Class like the blokes in this Emirates ad, these tips and tricks to bag yourself an upgrade will come in handy.

Look the part

We sincerely hope you wouldn't be tempted to show up at the airport in your jogging bottoms and hoody anyway, but if there was any lingering doubt, bear in mind that doing so will reduce your chances of being upgraded to a big, fat zero. There's no reason why you shouldn't look good when flying - it's the pilot's and the cabin crew's office, so show some respect and dress to impress.

Ask, but be polite

The amount of people who moan about not being upgraded but have never actually asked is staggering. The simple truth is, if you don't ask, you don't get. If you're tall, a good tactic is to politely ask during check-in if there are any extra-legroom seats available; do this and you'll be at the front of the queue should any upgrades become available.

Share any special events

If you're celebrating a special event of any kind, don't be afraid to share this information with the check-in desk and cabin crew - preferably in a, "We're so happy to be celebrating our honeymoon and an upgrade would be wonderful" way, rather than a "It's my birthday so upgrade me now" tone.Dress smartly and you could find yourself with your own private room.

Be a frequent flyer

Any international airline worth its salt has a frequent flyer programme that will reward those who are most loyal, and you know what they say: points equal prizes! If there are two people asking for an upgrade and you’ve both done all of the above, the one with the most frequent flyer miles will be chosen.

Pay for it

These tips and tricks will only get you so far. There are times when a flight is empty and the only way you're going to be putting your feet up and sipping champagne in First Class is by paying for it. Most airlines do last-minute upgrade deals at check-in, so again, it's always worth asking.