Flight secrets: Insider explains the best way to get ‘much cheaper’ seat upgrades

Flights: Expert reveals how to get a free upgrade

Travel is on the agenda for many people in 2021 after almost an entire year of travel restrictions and bans. For those eager to check off the bucket list, flying business or first class may be the perfect way to kick start the long-awaited holiday.

However, these higher-class seats come up a price tag to match which is often out of reach for your typical traveller.

Ticket prices vary depending on airline and destination.

For example, a British Airways return ticket to New York in Club World (business class) starts at more than £1,000.

Similarly, Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class eats cost between £1,000 and £2,000 depending on ticket type and destination.

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Luckily, one traveller has shared insight into how they have managed to successfully secure an upgrade for a cut of the price.

Posting to a Reddit forum dedicated to travel tips they explained the unexpected perk of waiting until the last minute.

“Gate upgrades can be much cheaper than pre-booked,” they wrote.

“For example, I got a business class upgrade on air France, Vancouver to Paris for €280. It was worth every cent.”

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Rather than booking the more expensive seat in advance, they suggest booking a regular seat and tackling the upgrade at the airport.

“Just ask as you check-in for your flight if gate upgrades are available,” the traveller continued.

“If you’re already checked in online, go to the airline desk on the day.

“Don’t bother asking before you’re at the airport.”

Other travellers offered tips for wangling your way to an upgrade free of charge.

However, they noted these types of upgrades are particularly rare.

“Dress smart, be early and just ask for it is the best way, although if the flight is relatively empty your chances are slim to none unless you know someone who works for the airline,” wrote another frequent flyer.

“Most upgrades are given to people travelling alone.

“I got an upgrade a couple of years ago, it was my birthday so I asked and they gave me one.”

Though upgrades aren’t an entirely common occurrence, one airline employee revealed they do sometimes boost passengers up free of charge.

“Reasons I’ve upgraded someone without charge included weight and balance (it’s gotta be a really empty flight for that to happen!), someone gave up their seat so I could put a family together, someone is travelling for a sad or horrible reason and confided in us, they’re celebrating a special anniversary or birthday, or they volunteered their seat for a different oversold flight,” they explained.

“Just last week this really cute young couple came up to the gate and handed us a bag of goodies, letting us know they appreciated our working so they could see their family.

“I noticed they had a much bigger bag of goodies for flight attendants and other agents and we had about six open first-class seats, so I had no problem putting them up in first.”

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