How to go first class for free

Flying first class is a truly wonderful experience, one which precious few students can actually afford. It is possible to blag your way into first class though, so you can enjoy all of the luxury, without having to pay a penny extra.


Firstly, dress the part. Now, flying in comfort does have its perks and most long haul flights will be full of people dressed in what could be mistaken for pyjamas, but they aren’t going to upgrade a slob.

So in the interest of having a fancier flight, try putting on a some clean clothes and make a bit more effort with your appearance. It doesn’t take much effort and you will still be comfortable enough for the flight, but it is important that you don’t resemble a scruffy student too much.

Secondly do be persistent but polite. It might take two requests to get an upgrade, one at the check in desk and one at the gate desk, not much really. At check in, simply ask if the flight was empty, particularly if you are travelling on a holiday like New Year’s Eve or on a flight very early in the morning. Even if the attendant at the desk informs you that the flight is actually full, you can still use this to your advantage. There is always a chance that they might have overbooked the flight. You can simply ask, “I was just wondering, with the flight being so full, if there was any chance of an upgrade?”

Yes, there is actually a list held by the airline of people “willing” to upgrade on every flight, so it is absolutely worth making sure your name is put on that list. However, it is best not to get too excited though as there is only a slim chance. It’s easy to give up hope but persistence really does pay off.

It also does not hurt to go up to the desk at your flight’s gate in the airport terminal and politely mention to one of the staff working there that one of their colleagues at the check in desk had mentioned there was a chance of an upgrade and if this is still possible. After all, there is no harm in asking.

Thirdly, it helps to have flown with the airline before as they are more likely to choose their frequent flyers for an upgrade. As students this can be hard as it makes more sense to go with the cheapest deal than to stay loyal to one company, but if it makes financial sense then book with the same company if you can. Also, make sure to claim your air miles! It’s free to sign up with any airline and will come up on your details at check in, making you more likely to get upgraded. Given that so many airlines operate co-operatively nowadays, the collection of air miles has been made even easier, so you can have one air miles account for multiple airlines.

And finally: don’t give up. If it doesn’t work one time, that doesn’t mean it won’t work another time. These rules are not guaranteed. Remember: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive.


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May 2021
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