A travel blogger recently spilled the beans on what you can do if you’re looking for an upgrade in the skies.

Best way to get upgraded is to buy a ticket from a large travel agency. These agencies often have the power to upgrade passengers from a full economy ticket to business class. 

Now a full economy ticket is not cheap (it often is more expensive than an advanced purchase business class), but there are tremendous savings to be had if you can’t find the inventory for a reduced business class or you are buying a ticket at the last minute, or you are flying one way. Full economy tickets are also usually fully refundable and changeable.  

It turns out that there are some surprising tactics you can employ if you’ve got an economy or economy plus ticket–word on the tarmac is that there are certain behaviors that can put you in, or knock you out, of the running for a First Class seat. 

It’s a known phenomenon that airlines will sometimes issue upgrades to passengers–but according to travel influencer Ceara Kirkpatrick, a flight attendant told her in confidence that his biggest travel hack is this, if you’re eyeing a First Class upgrade: ditch the sweats and yoga pants.

This news is no good for the vast majority who prioritize comfort over style when traversing the world–but in short, how you dress is key if you want to be treated like royalty for free. When you check in, it turns out, the airline personnel will literally mark you as suitable for an upgrade if you look nice and only if you look nice. 

One commenter on the viral video claimed that she was upgraded for this exact same reason: “I got a free upgrade to first class this way.” 

Others offered their methods and tricks for bagging an upgrade. A fellow airline worker said “looking nice is the key to being able to BE upgraded. I work in the airlines. You can politely ask for one, sometimes a small gift helps too.” Another commenter added her go to: “Gifts like candy, Starbucks gift cards, and lotion are great. Works best on long flights.” 

But not everyone was in agreement about this unusual tip: “I get upgraded on almost every flight wearing leggings and a hoodie, being part of their rewards program is the real key,” said another user. 

Another commenter offered: “99% of the time upgrades are based on airline loyalty and status.”

While frequent travelers may differ on their approach to free upgrades, we have a few favorite techniques ourselves: 

  1. Use loyalty schemes–they will allow you to build up points you can use towards upgrades and other flights. Airlines often make a point to reward their loyalty scheme members first. 
  2. Be early: Arriving early will maximize your shot at getting an upgrade, as only so many will be available on any given flight. The ground crew is less likely to be stressed at check-in if there aren’t throngs of people waiting to check in or board, so they’ll look more fondly upon you. 
  3. Travel off season: Peak travel season (summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas) are the least likely times to score an upgrade due to volume of people traveling. 
  4. Ask. Sounds simple, but without asking, your likelihood of being boosted to First is slim to none. Be charming, and you could very well be at the front of the plane dining on caviar. 

Some extra reading, for the travel geeks: 

Can Buttigieg Fix Air Travel With A Dashboard?

Fall is looking bright when it comes to air travel. Here’s why. 
The 411 on Air Turbulence