When you are taking a trip and you need to fly, you want to be as comfortable as possible. The last thing that you want is to be stuck in a cramped seat between two strangers who take up the armrests. This is especially annoying if your flight is going to be a long one. There was a time when you could walk up to the gate dressed very nicely, and the attendant would offer you a free upgrade to first class if there is a seat available. That rarely happens these days, if at all. If you want to fly first class but you don’t want to pay the full airfare or if you cannot afford it, there are a few things that you can try to get yourself a nice, comfortable first-class seat on the cheap.
Search For First Class Flights
If you are the type of person who just looks for an open seat and books it, you will never be able to find a cheap, first-class flight. If you search on several search engines, you might be able to find a first-class seat for as little as $50 more than a coach seat. Paying an extra $50 is well worth it because your experience will be much better in the end.
Surveys and Mystery Shopping
If you are willing to take the time to fill out surveys or be a mystery shopper, there is a chance that you can get great deals like free hotels, half-price flights, and other travel deals. Getting half price off a flight is huge. If you are willing to wait until the tickets go on sale, you will be able to get half off the sale price. This will be enough of a discount to get a first-class ticket at the cost of coach. If you are willing to take the time to search, you might be able to find a mystery shopping promotion that offers a free upgrade on your flight.
Use Your Frequent Flyer Miles
Using your frequent flyer miles is an obvious way to get a free trip, however, you have to do it the smart way. Rather than redeeming your points as soon as you have enough to fly, hold on to them. If you let them accumulate to enough points, you can use them on a first-class seat. It may take longer to get your free airfare, however, when you are sitting in first class, it will be worth the wait.
Mention a Special Occasion
If you are in line ready to check-in, and you mention in a natural way that you are on your honeymoon or that you are traveling to attend your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, there is a chance that you could be bumped up to first class. If the attendant is sentimental and there are empty seats in first class, there is a chance that you can be upgraded at no cost.
Dress As You Belong in First Class
This one is a long shot, however, it has worked for some travelers in the past. If you get dressed up and you look like you belong in first class, you could be offered an upgrade. It all depends on the airline, the number of passengers on the plane, and the person checking you in. If you do get an upgrade, you should be happy because it doesn’t happen very often.
Ask About First Class Cash Upgrades
When you are checking in, you should ask the attendant if they are offering any cash upgrades. If there are several seats empty in first class, the airline would rather upgrade you for a few hundred dollars than leave the seats empty. A few hundred dollars is better than nothing. Even if you need to pay a few hundred dollars more, it is much cheaper than booking a first-class flight from the beginning.
Arrive at the Gate Early
The airline staff is often very busy. When they are not checking in a long line of passengers, they are down near the gate printing out the roster and doing a variety of other administrative tasks. If they are busy doing their things, there is no chance of you being offered a free upgrade or even a cash upgrade. They are too busy to deal with things like this. If you arrive at the gate early, they won’t be very busy yet, and you will have the time to talk yourself into first class.
Volunteer to Be Bumped
There are some airlines who overbook their flights either in error or to be sure that there are no empty seats on the plane. When this happens, they will ask people at the gate if they are willing to be bumped to the next flight. The people who agree are often given something in return, such as vouchers for free food, vouchers for free accommodations, discounts on future flights, cash, or a free upgrade to first class. If you aren’t in a hurry to get to your destination, you should volunteer to be bumped to the next flight. You may need to wait, however, it could be well worth it in the end.
Try to Bond With the Attendant
If you are the type of person who can bond with others easily, you should try to do it with the attendant at the gate. If you can strike up a good enough conversation, there is a chance that the attendant may like you enough to bump you up to first class. Don’t count on it working, but it is always worth a try.
Business Class Is Good
If there are no empty seats in first class, you might be able to get a free upgrade to business class using any of the techniques listed above. Business-class and first-class are often very similar on most airlines. The only difference is the name. If you cannot seem to get a bump to first class, try your luck with business class.
Getting a free upgrade to first-class is great. If you are a smooth talker with a little bit of patience, there is a chance that it could happen.