Flight attendant says you should be on the plane when you ask for a free upgrade

Most of us pay for an economy seat when we fly as we love to bag a bargain.

If we're feeling flush, or we're travelling long-haul, we might splash out on premium economy for bigger seats and extra legroom.

However, it's the dream for many to one day travel business or even first class – and a free upgrade is the holy grail.

READ MORE: Premium economy passengers fuming after being served food on paper plates

Bobby Laurie – a former American Airlines flight attendant – claims that the best time to ask for an upgrade is when you’re getting onto the plane.

He told Travel + Leisure: “You should ask the lead flight attendant or the flight attendant at the boarding door.

“You should ask prior to door closure, but don’t be surprised if they don’t move you until after you’re in the air if they’re going to grant your request.”

The reason why you may not be moved straight away is because the crew has to ensure that everyone is on the plane before re-assigning free seats.

If there is an empty business or first class seat then you may be able to move into it.

You should be aware that anyone on the Standby List will have been assigned them before you – that’s usually staff, crew who need to get to another airport or the friends or family of airline workers.

But, if the list has been given other seats you might just bag a bargain.

However, there is a catch…

According to flight attendant Susan Fogwell, upgrades are very rare and you may have to pay a price difference.

She said: “If a flight attendant moved a passenger from one class to another, the flight attendant would not have a job for long [due to the price difference].

“Standard procedure is to wait until the door closes to see if everybody shows up for the flight.

“If the seat is available, the passenger pays for the upgrade on the flight.”

While this is often the case, it seems there are some ways around paying such as being extra generous with the crew.

According to CEO of travel company Stasher, Jacob Wedderburn-Day, sometimes all you have to do is ask.

When you check in, tell the attendant that you’re interested in an upgrade. You can always ask again at the gate if they say there’s no chance; the worst they can say is no.

The key is to be polite and humble. You don’t want to come across as demanding or entitled, says Jacob.

Be friendly and let them know that you would really appreciate an upgrade, especially if it is a special occasion.

This won't always result in an upgrade, but you may possibly get a free glass of champagne and some special in-flight treatment.

Meanwhile, over on Reddit, flight attendants explained why they bumped people up a class.

One noted: “Yes, it’s not easy but there are ways to qualify. Be really, really friendly.

“Help an attendant when necessary (lifting bags, help with spilled drinks).

“We might be nicer when we see you are struggling (2m tall guys in economy, very annoying person next to you).”


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