Free flight upgrades – are they still possible?

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How to get a free flight upgrade – it’s one of the most commonly searched terms relating to all things flying. It’s no surprise really – if you’ve ever travelled in first or business class you’ll have struggled to go back to economy. We’ve done the research and found that there are a number approaches you can take to getting a free flight upgrade.

1. Put your cleanest foot forward.
Here at Airport Lynx, we know that first impressions matter – that’s one of the reasons why we always insist that our drivers wear a suit and tie for their work serving our customers. There is still a wealth of opinion suggesting that you should be dress well and charm whoever it is at booking in. We’re not suggesting that you go for a full on Lady Gaga (she infamously wore a stage esque outfit for a flight and began to report DVT symptoms as it was so constrictive!) but nor do we think you should wear your Sunday Best – on balance upgrades are increasingly rare, so comfort and layers are the priority for making sure that you are able to get some rest or actually focus on working whilst travelling. Clean, tidy and presentable should be enough.

2. Play the routes. 
The Telegraph suggests that you should actively look for busy routes that could become overbooked (and therefore means some people need to be ‘bumped up’). This, along with letting people know when you’re a regular traveller with that airline should be a good way to get the upgrade if it’s available.

3. Make the most of your connections.
It does seem to be the case that there is also an element of upgrades being down to who you know – a Virgin spokesman told the Telegraph that “There is an upgrade list at check in and all of these upgrades are agreed in advance and signed off at head office”. If you know someone who works for an airline, you should definitely see if you can get onto the relevant upgrade lists!

4. Bid on it
If you don’t want to chance it on the day, you can use bidding platforms like Plusgrade. A week before travel, you can bid on an upgrade – if you win, you receive all the first class cabin perks as if you’d paid the full ticket price. Nearly 40 airlines use the platform to encourage economy travellers to ‘bid’ for better seats.

5. Spend airmiles on well, miles in the air!
Book your flight as early as you can. From there, you can use your airmiles to upgrade your flight. The sooner you do this, the less airmiles it will take to secure your upgrade. You might even be able to take someone else into first class with you if you book early enough!

You can also look at expertflyer.com – it’s a useful tool to monitor the speed at which the premium seats are sold. Once you’ve worked it out you can choose whether to spend airmiles on the journey or chance it on the day.

6. Don’t bother trying
Controversial, we know – but there’s even a question mark as to whether it’s worth trying to get the upgrade in the first place. Gary Leff from ‘View from the wing’ reports that there are so many more people prepared to pay for their first class and business class travel, that’s it’s often a pointless exercise to begin with. It’s an interesting viewpoint – perhaps we all have unrealistic expectations and with them being so rare, maybe we should focus on finding other ways to make air travel work for us?

Which of these seems most practical or achievable for you? If you have any tried and tested methods for securing upgrades we’d love to hear them and will be happy to add them here for others to benefit.

Remember to start and end your journey in style by booking your airport transfers with Airport Lynx on 01223 440040 | info@airportlynx.co.uk | www.airportlynx.co.uk

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