'I'm an aviation expert - a booking hack is a flyer's best bet for bagging a free upgrade'

passenger on plane

Passengers often overlook common rules on aeroplanes

Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 23/02/2024

- 13:41

Many passengers dream of bagging an upgrade, but certain events could force an airline’s hand and make this dream a reality

Bagging a free upgrade is an ambition many flyers share - and achieving this may be a matter of predictability when booking the flight.

Passengers who book busy flights are more likely to be upgraded under certain conditions according to experts.

The trick is most likely to work when booking predictably busy routes with a popular airline.

In the event of an overbooked aircraft, customers who checked in early may have a greater chance of being bumped up to business or first class.

Airlines are likely to offer an upgrade then and there or put them on a later flight with an upgrade to make up for any inconvenience.

plane on tarmac

​Ignoring social etiquette on aeroplanes could present a safety risk to passengers and crew members 


Money Saving Expert notes that the airline will likely upgrade you in advance in such instances to save themselves having to shuffle around upgrades at the airport.

If the flight isn’t overbooked, flyers can still enjoy the benefit of choosing the best seat when checking in early.

David Doughty, an aviation expert with more than 20 years in the industry, confirmed that the hack is a passenger's "best bet" for securing an upgrade.

“One of your best bets of getting a free upgrade would be to take advantage of overbooking," the expert explained.

“Sometimes, when airlines oversell tickets, they offer passengers the opportunity to travel first class on another flight as an incentive to give up their seats."

To benefit from these perks, passengers are encouraged to be on their best behaviour while onboard aeroplanes.

Many of the unspoken rules of travel go ignored by travellers, noted David. He explained: “A lot of these breaches revolve around social etiquette.

“One of the biggest is not standing up to let people out of your row during the flight."

He continued: “Simply half-standing or turning your knees away isn’t enough. Do the polite thing and stand up and away from your seat to let the other person out.

“Refusing to do so is not only rude but could also result in injury if your fellow passenger falls and hurts themselves while clambering over you.”

The expert pointed out the added risk of obstructing passageways before, during and after the flight.

“Even when the seatbelt sign is turned off, you should only be getting up and moving around if you really need to,” David explained.

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