Flyers get bumped to first class seats for free on U.S. domestic carrier flights every day. No matter who you are and what your economic status, you could be one of those lucky flyers. First class seats cost about four times what you have to pay for economy, and yet no-cost upgrades are common. The following are some tips on how to get a free first-class upgrade whether traveling for business, pleasure or for a vacation.
1. Arrive Early
Showing up at the airport early and politely requesting a free first-class upgrade may be all it takes to get bumped to luxury travel in the skies. If you are there ahead of the crowds, getting the attention of the airline agent will be easier. This strategy really puts you ahead of the game, in the event only a couple of the best seats are available on the flight.
2. Dress Smart Casual
Wear professional dress, when your goal is to land a free first-class upgrade. It’s not necessary to wear a suit. The important thing is to look as though you belong in the hot towel section. A nice linen jacket or cashmere sweater will communicate the right message.
3. Travel Unaccompanied for a Free First-Class Upgrade
Due to the limited number of available free seats in first class, being chosen to get bumped to luxury accommodations has better odds if you fly solo. Those who have a travel companion are far less likely to be singled out for a bump to first class.
4. Fly During Peak Travel Times
If there are plenty of seats in economy class, it’s likely that no one will be invited to enjoy a no-added-cost first-class seat. Flights that oversell are the ones in which free first class upgrades are up for grabs. Book your flights for peak travel times.
5. Sacrifice Your Seat
If the gate agent asks whether anyone is willing to skip their flight and take the next one, volunteer to give up your seat in exchange for a first-class upgrade on the next flight. Although it will cost you a delay, enjoying lavish accommodations at no extra charge may be worth the wait.
6. Choose an Uncomfortable Middle Seat
Passengers in undesirable seats are frequently tapped for a free first-class upgrade. Whether you sit next to a parent with an infant or take a crowded middle seat, looking uncomfortable but remaining polite might win you the coveted first-class experience.
7. Share News Of Your Special Occasion
Be friendly from the time you arrive at the airport, and let your flight attendant know, if you are celebrating a special occasion. Whether it’s your birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, or flight to meet your long-awaited firstborn grandchild, share the good news with the attendant. You may just get a free beverage of your choice, even if you don’t land the free first-class upgrade.
If you are flying economy class and long to sit in the comfort and luxury of first-class, the best thing to do is try to get bumped on any and all of your flights. One of the above strategies could very well work for you. Since someone is likely to get the free first-class upgrade, it may as well be you.