October 3, 2023
Discover the best ways to get free upgrades on flights with these helpful tips and tricks. From joining frequent flyer programs to volunteering to give up your seat, explore how you can experience the luxury of premium travel without breaking the bank.

How to Get Free Upgrades on Flights

Most of us have probably dreamed of experiencing the luxury of business or first class travel, but the reality is that these upgrades come with a hefty price tag. However, there are ways to increase your chances of getting a free upgrade, whether it be for a special occasion or simply because you want to travel in style without breaking the bank. In this article, we will explore some tips and tricks on how to get free upgrades on flights.

Join Frequent Flyer Programs

One of the most popular ways of earning free upgrades is by joining airline frequent flyer programs. By accumulating points or miles through flights or other activities, you can trade them in for upgrades on future flights. Many airlines also offer tiered levels of membership, with higher levels providing more benefits, such as higher priority for upgrades and lounge access.

Examples of popular airline frequent flyer programs include American Airlines’ AAdvantage, United Airlines’ MileagePlus, and Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles. Each program has its own set of rules and rewards, so it’s best to research the program that works best for you.

Book Your Flight at the Right Time

Booking your flight during non-peak times, such as on weekdays or during off-seasons, can increase your chances of getting a free upgrade. As airlines often have empty seats during these periods, they may offer upgrades to passengers at little or no cost. Keep in mind that this strategy may not be as effective for popular routes or travel times.

Be Nice and Polite

When asking for a free upgrade, it’s important to be respectful and courteous to airline staff. Being friendly and engaging in conversation can go a long way in creating a positive impression. Additionally, politely asking for a free upgrade without demanding or complaining increases your chances of getting one. Remember, airline staff deal with many passengers every day, so making a positive impact can make a difference.

Volunteer to Give Up a Seat

If you’re flexible with your travel plans, volunteering to give up your seat on an overbooked flight can result in a free upgrade for a later flight. Airlines may offer upgrades as an incentive for passengers to give up their seats and avoid being forced to bump someone involuntarily. Be aware that this strategy may not always work, as the airline may not need volunteers or may only offer alternative compensation.

Use Your Connections

Having friends or family in the airline industry can lead to special treatment, such as free upgrades. However, it’s important to use these connections appropriately and not exploit them for personal gain. Additionally, some airlines offer benefits to certain professions, such as military personnel or government officials, so it’s worth looking into these options if they apply to you.

Upgrade Certificate

Some airlines offer upgrade certificates as a reward for their frequent flyers. These certificates can be used to upgrade your flight to business or first class, but typically have specific rules and expiration dates. To obtain an upgrade certificate, you may need to accumulate a certain number of points or miles, or purchase them with cash. Check with your airline to see if they offer upgrade certificates and how you can obtain them.

Check for Last-Minute Deals

Airlines may offer last-minute upgrades at discounted prices, especially if they have unsold premium seats. To take advantage of these deals, it’s important to stay up to date on flight information and be flexible with your travel plans. Some airlines also offer bidding systems, where passengers can bid on available upgrades.


Getting a free upgrade on a flight may seem like a lofty goal, but there are ways to increase your chances of achieving it. Joining frequent flyer programs, booking during non-peak times, being polite to airline staff, volunteering to give up your seat, using your connections appropriately, obtaining upgrade certificates, and checking for last-minute deals can all contribute to a successful upgrade. Remember, not every strategy may work, but trying a combination of them may increase your chances of experiencing the luxury of premium travel without paying a premium price.

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