The Easiest Ways to Get a Flight Upgrade — Without Paying or Using Points

Flight upgrade

More seat room, nicer food, better service — these are just a few of the many perks you can expect with a flight upgrade. So, it’s no wonder they’re in high demand. But, if you’re not keen on paying cash or using points for a bump-up, what are some other ways you can get one?

Ahead, we compile some of the best hacks for scoring a flight upgrade we’ve from. From simply wearing a smile, to telling airline staff you’re celebrating a special occasion, trying these ways just might land you in Premium, Business or even First.

Become a Loyalty Member

It goes without saying, but loyalty members are the first considered when seats in upper classes become available. So, before your flight, be sure to sign up for the program. You can become a Qantas Frequent Flyer by registering and qualifying through credit cards and by joining other reward programs.

Related: Not Flying First or Business? You Can Still Get into an Airport Lounge

Related: Qantas Frequent Flyers Now Need Fewer Points for Hotels and Flights

It’s free to join Virgin Airlines’ frequent flyer Velocity Program. Aside from having more chances at an upgrade, you’ll also start to earn points from flying, which may eventually lead to you scoring a free flight.

Be Kind

While you should always be kind to service workers, it’s especially important if you want an upgrade. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and remember to maintain eye contact. Airline staff deals with dozens of grumpy people every day, so even doing the bare minimum of courtesy will go a long way — maybe even making them think of you when they’re considering who to upgrade or dish out an extra snack.

Pull the Honeymoon Card

This one isn’t for the faint-hearted: pull the honeymoon card. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a honeymoon — it could be a birthday or another milestone — but telling the airline staff you’re travelling for a special occasion (true or not) will make them more likely to think of you if they get a spare upgrade.


Finally, it doesn’t hurt to ask airline staff outright for a flight upgrade. Kat Kamalani, former flight attendant and TikTok travel content creator, told Travel + Leisure the best time to ask is at the gate. She says it’s best to talk to a gate agent and let them know that you’re interested in moving up.

“Once onboard there isn’t anything we can do as a flight attendants,” says Kamalani about the process for the airline she used to work.

It’s worth noting that gate agents will typically have a list of frequent fliers who are first eligible for upgrades. But, if there’s no one on that list, that’ll be when they consider other folks – those who were kind, celebrating a special occasion, or who simply asked.

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