6 Easy Things to Do That Could Score You a Last-Minute Flight Upgrade (So You Might As Well Try!)

6 Easy Things to Do That Could Score You a Last-Minute Flight Upgrade (So You Might As Well Try!)

Start with being nice.

By Aly Walansky

We've all been there: At last headed off on that big trip we've been anticipating forever, only to find ourselves trudging all the way to the back of the plane, past the rows of people gulping mimosas in first class. The complete lack of elegance — even dignity — in that experience can be a buzzkill, right?

Well, it can, but perhaps it doesn't have to. Even if you don't have the big bucks to shell out for an official upgrade, you might actually be able to score one using these simple, last-minute approaches. At least, it couldn't hurt — so you might as well try, right?

1. Work your status.

If you are a frequent traveler, you might be able to play the good-customer card. “On international flights, having airline status does at times score you an upgrade,” says travel writer David Duran. Carriers are always vying for customer loyalty, so by bringing up your status and saying you are considering an allegiance swap, gate agents have been known to bump you up depending on space availability.

“Other times, airline partners that recognize and codeshare status have done courtesy upgrades just because — so I always make sure the gate agent knows my airline status... but I'm never obnoxious about it,” Duran adds.

2. Shower social media praise.

Sometimes people don’t want to give something without getting something. (And that sometimes is all the time.) “Get in touch with the airline in advance to let them know you will be showering them with praise on social media, letters to the editor, and word of mouth. Link to them, tweet pictures of you making dreamy eyes at their logo, and post status updates about how excited you are to fly with them,” says Ken Schneck, author of Seriously...What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew. You would be surprised at what you might get in return. This gent got free blue terra potato chips for a year from Jet Blue (and a ton of other incredible rewards) and all for consistently showering the airline with praise.

3. Bring snacks.

It works with toddlers, and with airline staff too: Giving someone a sweet treat will go a long way toward getting what you want. “I had a tenant who was a flight attendant for Airtran, and I have used her guidance for on-plane upgrades for years. Bring four muffins on each flight and hand them to the flight attendants as you get on the plane. Say something nice as you hand them off,” says Mike Catania, Founder of PromotionCode. Other frequent travelers have seen similar luck from bringing candy for gate agents and flight crews. It's always worth a try!

4. Just ask.

Look, you simply cannot get that for which you do not ask. The desk agents aren’t mind readers. “If you are beyond excited for your trip, or it’s your first time flying, or you are on your way to meet that Internet flirtation for the first time who may or may not actually be tall with a swimmer’s build, share that info and ask if there is any possible way there might be some extra room closer to the front of the plane,” says Schneck.

5. Seize the opportunity.

If there is no line at the counter, just jump in and ask. “Please, for the love of all things holy, do not wait on a long line if your only goal is to seek an upgrade,” says Schneck. If there is someone in front of you or behind you with an actual question, you won't be winning anyone's good favor.

6. Tell the truth.

If it's your milestone birthday or anniversary, or you are on your honeymoon, it never hurts to let that be known — and you might be rewarded with an upgrade in honor of your very special occasion. But never lie. For example, if your nana is playing bridge in Boca, do not say that she died and thus you have to get to Florida earlier or more comfortably. “Aside from the fact that you probably overused that excuse in college, it’s just bad karma. Every time you use this lie, just picture someone's nana who just got called for her ultimate bid by the all powerful dealer,” says Schneck. And no one needs bad travel karma following them around the world.

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