I’m a flight attendant – this is your best way to get a free upgrade

Flight attendant gives examples of what not to do on an aircraft

As you struggle to get your jumper off without elbowing your neighbour in the face, it’s tough back in economy not to think bad thoughts of those up front flying first class.

Flying first class can be seriously expensive so getting through the special curtain without having paid for it is one of life’s real pleasures.

But getting a free upgrade is pretty unusual. And if you’ve got the cheek to ask at check-in you’re likely to be knocked back time and time again.

However, one flight attendant has explained how cabin crew can upgrade passengers or give them better treatment for a number of reasons.

Flight attendant Helena Afroughi explained: “What always works is when people bring some sweets to the crew, chocolates or whatever. And they make themselves known. Don’t just give it and run away.

“Usually, people do it as a thank you but I’ve seen it more with people that have family working as crew too so they appreciate the crew more.”

However, Helena said some people do it just because they are genuinely nice. She said: “If someone brings chocolate or something we ask them if they are crew because we automatically think it’s because of that.

“When people do that, the cabin chief would be like ‘make sure you go up to him and ask him if he wants coffee or tea’ because we could give it for free. Obviously not everything from the snack bar, though.”

Helena added: “I had this very young kid once, who came and brought us little gifts from Bath and Body Works – a shop in the US – he bought us mini hand sanitisers. It was the cutest thing ever.”

The flight attendant gave another very useful tip.

“You can come up and talk to us a little bit. Not too much unless the conversation is flowing because I’ve had passengers that sit there and talk forever.

“And after that, just ask away. If you ask nicely and kindly it’s rare that a crew will say no,” she said.

“Airlines have their own rules and things regarding freebies but it doesn’t hurt to ask, you never know.

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“Also, I don’t know if that may be very difficult to notice for a passenger.

“But I think a new cabin crew member would have a hard time saying yes [to an upgrade] because they are afraid of the consequences (again depends on the airline) but usually when you have been in the airline for some time you know what’s completely off-limits and what is okay to do.

“So finding a crew member who is a bit more senior might help.

“Or finding one who you can tell is kind. Don’t go for the cabin crew who is grumpy and strict looking,” she said.

“I think asking the crew (when you are alone with them not in front of other passengers) is also important to note.

“Like if there’s a disruptive passenger or something along those lines it’s a good way for passengers to break the ice and I think that can bring you ‘closer’ to the crew.

“Maybe they will like you even more for understanding that passengers can be disruptive and rude.”

Another flight attendant, Miguel Muñoz, agreed: “To get better treatment, like the best seat or move to the overwing seats where you have more legroom, for example, the best trick is just to be nice. And ask for it.

“Basically, ask for it but be nice.

“So when you arrive, say hi to the crew, say good morning, ask how was their day, treat them like human beings and not like they are there to serve you.

“Which by the way it’s not true. They are not there to serve you, they are there for your safety.

“For example, if the captain ask us to move passengers around and I have to pick two people to seat in the overwings, I would pick the ones who have been nice to me,” Miguel admitted.

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