Five (Secret) Tips to Getting a First Class Upgrade On Your Next Flight

More Dom Perignon Brut Champagne please

By Jonathan Spira on 4 May 2017
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The Internet is littered with tips that will never score anyone an upgrade on a flight, ranging from “Dress for First Class” to “Sweet talk the check-in agent” to our favorite, “Be Late… or Be Early.”

While there’s no harm in any of these ideas, these tactics simply don’t work. And whatever you do, don’t self upgrade: someone who tried that last week on a British Airways flight from London to Jamaica was unceremoniously handed over to authorities at a Portuguese air base before the flight continued to its final destination.

If you don’t get an upgrade, you’ll be in rather elite company. Until recently, airlines handed out domestic upgrades to even mid-level elites like candy but, thanks to new first-class monetization policies, those days are long gone.

A domestic first-class seat on a Delta flight

A domestic first-class seat on a Delta flight


Here’s what you need to know and what you can do to score a business- or first-class seat.


There are several types of upgrades available but they can essentially be grouped into two main categories, domestic and international.

While there are some exceptions, domestic upgrades are typically complimentary, which means that they are handed out like candy to elite members of an airline’s frequent-flyer program when seats in the domestic first-class cabin are available.

Click here to continue to Page 2Handing Out Upgrades Like Candy

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