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What you should never ask a flight attendant if you want a seat upgrade

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No doubt you’ve heard tales of friends of your getting a free plane seat upgrade while on a flight to some far-flung destination on the other side of the planet. One day you decide that enough’s enough. Instead of stewing in a jealous rage in economy class, you decide that you want a taste of the high life, and start making plans to get your seat upgrade.


The way you go about getting your free plane seat upgrade, however, matters considerably. You can’t just waltz up and say whatever you like, hoping that the cabin crew will oblige. You’ve got to use a bit of guile and cunning. Passenger crews are notoriously miserly. 


Don’t Ask Cabin Crews Directly

A flight attendant who wishes to remain anonymous (for good reasons) recently spilt the beans on how to go about getting a free upgrade. The ex cabin crew worker said that passengers should NOT ask flight attendants if they can get a better seat. Flight attendants are programmed to prevent anybody from moving up from economy to business or first class. Your best bet, according to the cabin crew member, is to find opportunities for upgrades before you board the plane. 


Getting upgraded while in the cabin by asking a flight attendant is about as likely as going on a trip to the Moon, she says. But checking in late could tilt the odds in your favour. If you check in late and find that the economy cabin is full, staff will try to find space for you anywhere on the plane, including first class. 


You may find, therefore, that checking in late means that you stand a higher chance of getting that coveted upgrade. However, you run the risk of missing your plane altogether, which wouldn’t be so good for your pocketbook. 





Don’t Try To Cheat The System

Some flyers decide to get their seat upgraded through different methods. Instead of going down the legitimate route by finding clever tricks to boost their chances of an upgrade, they sneak into the premium cabin mid-flight uninvited. 


Most people who do this believe that cabin staff don’t care about who sits where. As long as everyone is safe and well-fed, they’re happy. But while the cabin crew themselves aren’t usually that bothered where people sit, the same can’t be said of their employers. 


Premium seating is critical to airlines, and they now train cabin staff to sniff out illegitimate seat upgrades like police sniffer dogs, ensuring that the airline caste system remains firmly in place. People who get caught trying to upgrade themselves when uninvited stand the chance of being thrown off the flight. Premium seating is a bit of a gold mine for airlines. Sometimes they are able to charge up to ten times as much for a premium seat as they are for an economy. People who buy first-class seating effectively subsidise the rest of the passengers on the flight, allowing airlines to make fatter profits and offer regular people lower prices. 



Louise Boxall

Louise has 10 years experience in Travel Journalism, Blog Writing and Research in the Travel Insurance sector. Louise’s goal is to provide interesting, informative articles on subjects we know will interest our customers.

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