A cabin crew’s guide to being upgraded.

In my 18 year career as cabin crew, I lost count of how many times I was asked for a free upgrade, I’ve heard every approach possible, 99% were unsuccessful.

My favourite one was a bride in her full meringue like wedding dress, travelling London to Capetown, unfortunately Upper Class was full! She should have done her research! Had their been space she may have made it!


Honeymoon? You and the rest of the flight dear. 

So many honeymooners used to get on the aircraft and let us know it was actually their honeymoon, this is cute, but on a route to say Antigua, Cancun, St Lucia guess what so are like 70 other passengers. Perhaps if you were going to somewhere with less honeymoon traffic, lets say San Fransisco, Atlanta, Shanghai for example, it may be worth saying something along the lines of  “ hey we just got married, if their is anything you can do to make our flight more special it would be amazing!” this may work, but probably won’t.

The amount of really rich well-known celebrities, that just blatantly asked was shocking! One really rich ex boy band member, for years his band had performed at sell out concerts around the world, with numerous, number one albums. He waited until every passenger was onboard, boarded at the front aircraft door to Upper Class rather than the economy entrance door, introduced himself to me, shook my hand and asked if  it was possible for an upgrade. I was really cheeky and said you want us to give it to you for free? I had a little bit of delight in explaining the flight was full #soz

Be ahead by miles,

The only way to guarantee it, is to pay basically, or use the airlines loyalty club miles. Join the flying club, use points, be savvy use a rewards credit card, you can even buy miles before you fly. I love this website and this one for all things airlines loyalty club miles and how to maximise them.flying-club

Live the dream in economy!

If all else fails, why not bring upper class to economy, buy lounge access before your flight, book an extra leg room seat,  if your airline offers these they typically cost around £50 to £100. Last year I flew London to Delhi as a passenger, on the flight out I was upgraded to premium economy (thats the other way to get an upgrade, work for an airline), inbound the premium cabins were full but I was given an extra leg room seat in economy, you know what? This was way more comfy than the premium seat on the way out!

Buy a bottle of champagne, take a lovely pillow, eye mask! Luxury amenity kit even, all significantly less than purchasing an upgrade.


ultimate eye mask found on amazon

Also I love this inflight Kit by bliss, available from Look fantastic with free worldwide delivery!


Get bumped!

The number one way people do get upgraded is when it is operationally required, for example aircraft type swaps ,perhaps the route normally operates on an A330 but due to whatever reason (technical,weather or usually late out of the hanger for a check) they send say an A340 instead. Suddenly they have 15 more business class seats and 8 less premium seats due to the configuration difference. Or flight cancellations, volunteering to go on the next flight etc. If you notice this is happening, speak to ground staff, be willing to help them out, if thy need to move people anyway, there is a slight chance they may use you and you may be rewarded for this.

One of the only times I upgraded people was when a couple blatantly trying to complain about lack of space due to being sat in a row of three next to a larger lady, they said their friends were travelling in premium, so guess what I upgraded the larger lady to premium to give the couple more room.


Another occasion was when I had a customer with a broken seat in economy, the seat wouldn’t stay upright, which it must do for take off and landing for safety reasons. The only other seat available was in Upper Class. So if you find any issue with your seat, politely bring it to your crew members attention, don’t be rude or aggressive, they don’t want rude or aggressive people in premium cabins right.

My upgrade TOP TIPS!


  • Do your research, is the flight full? lets not waste time. If you know its oversold in economy and lighter at the front than its time to make yourself SFU ( thats airline code for Suitable For Upgrade) polite, nice, well dressed and a member of the airlines loyalty programme and flexible to move flights.
  • Join the airlines loyalty club, gain points, buy them, stay in hotels to accumulate them, use credit cards, be smart and arrange an upgrade before travel.
  • Talk to crew politely about your circumstances, honeymoon, once in a lifetime trip, broken seat, a previous bad delay/experience.
  • If not, bring a bit of first class to economy.




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