How to fly first or business class for free

When I was a kid, my family spent two years living in Japan for my Dad’s job. On our way back to the USA one year, our seats got mixed up and our entire family was bumped into business class. We were shocked at the differences – huge seats, real cutlery, and champagne galore (for the adults at least). It made me realize what was missing in economy!

By now, you’re probably wondering how to score the best seats on the plane. To make it easy, we’ve gone though a number of articles to search out the best tips for getting the hottest seats. Hope some of these help you get the seat of your dreams!

Dress like royalty

Flight attendants don’t want to bump people into first or business class if they look like they “don’t know how to act” or are sloppy. To get a chance to score that free upgrade, make sure that you “dress for success”. Wearing smart casual clothes can help make you look nice but you’ll also know that you will be comfortable during the entire flight if you don’t get an upgrade.

Redeem some miles

Reading the fine print is something consumers usually neglect. Take the example of what happened to an engineer from California who was able to travel the world with his whole family just by using his air miles. This guy spent about $3,000 to buy pudding carton with bar codes that could be redeemed for miles – 1,280,000 miles later, he and his family were flying around the world and received lifetime airline privileges!

Of course, not everyone wants to buy $3000 worth of pudding. Miles earned vary depending on the airlines or product mechanics. The more you spend the better your chance of flying first or business class for free.

Sign up for credit card reward miles

Credit card issuers also have rewards program. The more you use your credit card to make purchases (except cash withdrawals), the more points you will earn, which can later be redeemed for free business or first class flights.

Nicely point out your problems

If there is any problem before the flight such as a broken seatbelt (which is a red flag for safety), make sure that you let the airline staff know about it in a nice manner. If the flight is booked, you are more likely to be upgraded to business class for free.

Another option is when your flight delay has inconvenienced you in some way. Nicely ask for an upgrade to compensate for the troubles of the delay. For example, “I have a huge meeting tomorrow but now this will be a red eye flight – is there an option to be upgraded to a lay-flat seat? I’ve been a loyal customer for 5 years”.

Fly at random times

If you book your holiday during peak season airlines are more likely to favour their loyal and frequent passengers. To give yourself a better chance to score a free upgrade, consider booking a flight during middle of the week or off-peak season. This means less competition for the best seats on the plane.

Show up early or late

Checking in early for your flight will also give you a chance to be considered first for an upgrade in case that they need to move passengers for some reasons. On the flip side, if you are late for your flight and all of the economy seats have been filled, you might be able to hitch a ride in a high end seat!

Volunteer to get bumped

There are times when the airline has overbooked and they need somebody to upgrade in order to accommodate other passengers – don’t hesitate to volunteer. You may arrive at your destination a bit later but your ride will be much nicer. If you hear word of a “full flight” it would be wise to stay near the check-in counter or offer to be bumped before they open this option up to the rest of the waiting passengers. I’ve seen individuals get vouchers for free business flight just for offering to give up seats!


Be super reasonable and nice

If there is an opportunity for an upgrade, the airline staff prefer someone who is nice, calm, and won’t cause problems in first or business class. Let’s face it; nobody would want to give someone a free upgrade if they were being rude. My brother was on a flight once when a couple noted that he was in one of their seats. They waited for the flight attendant to help and when she arrived the couple began to shout at her. My brother was shocked! She tried to calm them down, but it was to no avail – the flight was overbooked and she was trying her best. She eventually left and came back with an announcement, “I have space in first class”. The couple smiled haughtily. Then she turned to my brother and offered him the ticket and gave the couple exactly what they wanted – their crumby economy seats! Kindness pays…

Use your title

If you are a minister, judge or a doctor, you are more likely to be given a free upgrade since your title enhances your eligibility. Be sure that you use it when booking your flight and have some backup ID showing that you actually have this title in case anyone asks.

Look for sales

Ok – this one is not free, but it is a fool proof, 100% method of flying business or first class for less. Airlines will still have their promotional offers once in a while so make sure that you keep an eye out.

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Joy Adams

Founder & CEO

This blog is written by Joy Adams under the pen name Alexandria Pompadour. Years ago she began clipping articles and reading blogs about charity, the arts, the best things to do and see, career advice, lifestyle ideas and tips for getting the best deal. After sharing them with friends and family for years, she decided to branch out and begin sharing them more widely online! Luxeha is a lifestyle website for budding philanthropists and socialites.

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