Tips and Tricks for a Free Business Class Upgrade

It’s not uncommon for airlines to offer free Business Class upgrades to passengers. Today we bring you a short guide as to how you can increase your chances of being one of those lucky few.

When do airlines upgrade passengers?
Every once in a while, it can happen that the Economy section of a flight is overbooked. Another possibility is that due to operational restrictions, e.g. infants having to sit by their parents, passengers need to be moved to Business Class.

How are these illustrious seats allocated?
On such occasions, the airline would first offer the seats at a discounted price. If there aren’t sufficient takers, there’s nothing left for the airline to do but offer these seats free of charge. In most cases, it is actually a computer program that then designates the Business Class seats.

How can you increase your chances for a free upgrade?

  • Travel alone
    The predominant way to increase your prospects for a free upgrade is to travel alone. It namely makes more sense for an airline to offer one specific person an upgrade, than a complete family of five, for example.
     
  • Be part of the frequent flyer program
    This tip has two distinct advantages: by being a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program, you will often receive discounts or additional benefits. Alternatively, the carrier has more incentive to treat you to a Business Class upgrade if you are also a loyal member of their program. The ultimate tip would then be to participate in the frequent flyer program of all applicable airlines you fly with.
     
  • Travel at the right time
    As upgrades are mostly given when a flight is overbooked, choosing the right period for flying could increase your chances. By travelling in busy periods such as on public/school holidays or the summer, you’ll be more likely to receive an upgrade.
     
  • Get to the airport early…
    If there are only 1 or 2 passengers that need to be moved to Business Class, getting to the airport early might come to your advantage. As airlines often use a ‘first come, first serve’ method, being unfailingly punctual might come to your advantage.
     
  • …or late
    Another way to increase your chances is to contradict our previous tip and in fact arrive late to the gate. Airlines mostly have a concrete idea as to who will by flying with them. However, due to people that might need to transfer flights, the passenger list is never definite until the very end. Showing up to the gate right before embarkation stops might thus increase your likelihood of getting a Business Class seat. Be warned however that this method does bring a pronounced risk with it. If there are no seats left on the entire plane, you might get denied boarding and be rebooked on a later flight.


​​Free upgrades frequently happen. Even with these tips, you still need to be ‘fortunately lucky’ however. Who knows, maybe your turn is coming up! And don’t forget, if you are denied boarding on an overbooked flight, we can help you get up to £526​ compensation per passenger.