Home » Zero bullsh*t guide to scoring an upgrade to business class

Zero bullsh*t guide to scoring an upgrade to business class

Zero bullsh*t guide to scoring an upgrade to business class

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Have you ever boarded a plane and walked past business class and thought “that’ll be me one day…”

Well, my dear friends, that could be your next flight.

I’ve always been one of those people who looked at the extra leg room and glasses of champagne with envy.

After all, who wants to sit squashed like sardines on a plane, for hours on end?

I know I never enjoyed it! Especially, when I lived in Australia and every overseas flight took at least 8 hrs.

Until eventually, after all my overseas flights I figured out there was a formula to scoring a business class upgrade.

There are lots of articles out there outlining “tips” on how to get upgraded to business class. A lot of these are fluffy guides where they give you silly advice like “dress nicely” or “wear expensive clothes.”

Well, I’m calling their bullsh*t.

I’ve never had to dress nicely to get upgraded to business class (hello leggings and comfy jumpers!)

There’s a lot more than dressing nicely to get upgraded to business class.

After a lot of trial and error on overseas flights, I’ve figured out the formula to getting an upgrade. After all, I’ve scored business class upgrades on all my overseas flights in the last year!

What’s my secret?

Well, read on…

(And I promise there won’t be silly tips like “dress nicely”)

Scoring an upgrade to Business Class

The no bullsh*t part

Like a lot of big corporate companies these days, airlines are facing a lot of cost cutting. Unfortunately, upgrades aren’t as common as they once used to be.

Customers want everything for cheaper, but still at a higher quality.

Upgrades are not as easy to score, and rocking up to the airline in your finest and begging at the check-in counter is not going to cut it anymore.

Your chances of scoring an upgrade are down to a combination of luck and frequent flyer status.

The tips I’m about to outline will help… But with all things, it’s all a matter of luck and being a loyal customer.

That’s not to say you won’t get an upgrade! It is possible with some effort on your end, but it’s not guaranteed.

The effort begins before you fly

If you’re serious about increasing your chances of scoring an upgrade, consider signing up for a loyalty program.

Do your research before you commit yourself to an airline. Make sure you consider how often you are likely to fly this airline and its partner airlines.

Signing up to a frequent flyer program is also well worth the effort purely for the ability to accumulate frequent flyer points. Your benefit is doubled if you sign up as a couple or a family, as you can transfer your points between accounts.

This means you will also be closer to getting a discounted flight.

Even if you don’t get upgraded to business class, who doesn’t want a future discounted flight??


I thought so!

Improve your chances by choosing your flights carefully

And this is where we get to the juicy stuff…

You’re more likely to get upgraded to business class if you choose your flights wisely.

You want to fly when there is a surplus of economy class passengers but reduced paying business class passengers. 

This means flying on holidays like Christmas Day, where there are a lot of family holidays happening. This is also when companies aren’t likely to be sending their staff overseas.

You should also avoid Fridays afternoons, Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

These are typically peak periods for business passengers. They are likely to have companies who are willing to pay for their upgrade, or they are likely to have higher frequent flyer status, which gives them priority to an upgrade.

Another option is to pick seats that are likely to have other passengers that will need them more than you.

You’re probably thinking… Girl, what on earth are you on about?

Baby bassinet seats.

You know, the sets in the middle of the plane with the extra leg room?

They usually seat families or those traveling with young children in these seats.

Now, only take this option if you genuinely wouldn’t mind sitting next to children. Because a free upgrade is never guaranteed!

But let’s just say every time I’ve picked these seats, I’ve been upgraded to business class (whoopee!!)

What eventuates is that a family with a small child needs these seats more than me, and hence I am bumped.. to Business Class.

Again, only pick these seats if you don’t mind sitting next to children, because if you don’t get upgraded to business class… You know where you’ll be sitting!

And when you head to the airport…

For flights that are likely to be fully booked, show up to the airport early.

This applies if you are traveling during peak holiday season (prior to Christmas, long weekends, Spring Break).

We were one of the first people in the check-in line on Christmas Day on our way to Helsinki, Finland. Our patient waiting was well worth the effort when we were handed business class tickets on our Etihad flight.

Additionally, if you’ve got status with a frequent flyer airline, upon check-in, confirm that your frequent flyer details are recorded.

You may not want to brag about being “platinum” status, but a friendly reminder (under the pretense of making sure you get those frequent flyer points!) never hurt anyone.

And to help things along, at the check-in counter, ask if there are any seats that have extra leg room

(i.e. business class seats)

We’ve followed these exact steps, and every time we’ve scored an upgrade!

If you do all these steps, and still are not handed that golden ticket, you may be gifted it upon boarding. It has happened to me various times. Sometimes airlines just don’t know when they need to upgrade people, right to the very last minute!

And if all the above fails…

Choose your frequent flyer program wisely and hoard all those points from your flights. If you haven’t managed to score a free upgrade, you can always pay for an upgrade with frequent flyer points. Or better yet, to first class!

I’m not going to lie, getting an upgrade to business class isn’t easy.

Airlines don’t hand out upgrades as readily as they used to. Getting an upgrade is a combination of luck, hard work (on your part!) and seat availability.

Sometimes if you follow these steps, you still might not get upgraded to business class.

But sometimes you will.

It’s all a matter of luck and persistence. If it worked for me – it could work for you too!

Good luck!

Have you been upgraded to business class before?

Leave me a comment and let me know your tips!


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  1. February 16, 2017 / 11:29 pm

    I love this post MG! So well-written, straight forward and no bs! These are things I’ve never thought of. And to think I thought dressing well was going to help lol What airlines do you get upgraded with?

    • Mae-Gene
      February 17, 2017 / 4:45 pm

      I’m so glad you found it useful!! I’ve always been a bit of a slob when traveling (we’re talking leggings, oversized jumpers and sneakers!) so can gladly de-bunk that myth for you! So far I’ve managed to snag upgrades to Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Australia… Here’s to hoping I’m fortunate to get more in the future! 🙂

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