Traveller reveals how she gets business class upgrades

A self-confessed ‘upgrade queen’ has shared her best tips for landing yourself a business or first class seat without having to lie and say it’s your honeymoon or anniversary.

Avid traveller Julie Vulin said that her strategies have worked on nine out of every 10 flights so long as she didn’t fly as part of a couple or family. 

From dressing the part to the exact line you should use on the check-in staff, this long-haul expert gave Escape an insight into scoring that elusive seat.

From dressing the part to the exact line you should use on the check-in staff, this long-haul expert gives Escape an insight into scoring that elusive ticket

From dressing the part to the exact line you should use on the check-in staff, this long-haul expert gives Escape an insight into scoring that elusive ticket

From dressing the part to the exact line you should use on the check-in staff, this long-haul expert gives Escape an insight into scoring that elusive ticket

1. Wear a ‘classic’ outfit

It’s no secret that dressing the part can go a long way in earning you points with the flight attendants, so try to keep your tracksuit pants for when you’re seated on the plane.

Instead Julie adopts her ‘LA outfit’ for check-in which includes a pair of dark jeans, a plain t-shirt, jacket and pair of nice shoes – it’s not over the top but still eye-catching enough to look presentable.

Once you earn that upgrade you can switch out the tight jeans for relaxed trousers and remove the jacket so you’re more comfortable.

It's no secret that dressing the part can go a long way in earning you points with the flight attendants preparing to board so try to keep your tracksuit pants for when you're seated

It's no secret that dressing the part can go a long way in earning you points with the flight attendants preparing to board so try to keep your tracksuit pants for when you're seated

It’s no secret that dressing the part can go a long way in earning you points with the flight attendants preparing to board so try to keep your tracksuit pants for when you’re seated

How do you make a connection? 

Julie scopes out all of the people on the counter before she approaches and ensures she chooses someone who looks like they’re having a good day.

If they’ve just had a fight with a customer over baggage or look like they’re rushing around, it’s not worth hassling them.

Instead wait until there is peace and calm at the counter before you get up. 

2. Target a flight attendant you will ‘connect’ with

Julie will always approach the counter to ‘check’ on her seat assignment and it is there that she will say: ‘If the flight is crowded, don’t worry, you can bump me into business or first class’.

If the attendant smiles back at her Julie continues on with a ‘OK seriously, I know everyone asks, so I don’t want to bother. I know you have a tough job. Have a great day’.

Then she will go and sit somewhere near the counter, but not too close, and won’t approach again. Most of the time that same attendant will come by and tell her she has been upgraded.

Julie will always approach the counter to 'check' on her seat assignment and it is there that she will say: 'I the flight is crowded, don’t worry, you can bump me into business or first class'

Julie will always approach the counter to 'check' on her seat assignment and it is there that she will say: 'I the flight is crowded, don’t worry, you can bump me into business or first class'

Julie will always approach the counter to ‘check’ on her seat assignment and it is there that she will say: ‘I the flight is crowded, don’t worry, you can bump me into business or first class’

3. Make a case for needing an upgrade

It’s never too late to be upgraded, not even when you’re seated in economy class already.

Julie remembered a time when she was seated by the toilets and passengers continually banged into her seat on their way past.

She chose a kindly hostess and asked if they could do anything about the problem. 

Moments later she was told to collect her things because she was being moved to business class for the duration of the 16-hour flight.

4. Travel during the shoulder months

If you’re flying during the middle of summer or over school holidays the flights are likely going to be packed with people, so it will be difficult to earn your place in business.

Flying ‘shoulder’ seasons – outside of popular times like summer and Christmas – means you’re more likely to get bumped up, and flying mid-week is better.

‘Even if you don’t get anything, flights and airports are generally less crowded and more civilised – and flights are less expensive,’ she said.

If you're flying during the middle of summer or over school holidays the flights are likely going to be packed with people, so it will be difficult to earn your place in business

If you're flying during the middle of summer or over school holidays the flights are likely going to be packed with people, so it will be difficult to earn your place in business

If you’re flying during the middle of summer or over school holidays the flights are likely going to be packed with people, so it will be difficult to earn your place in business

5. Tell the hotel staff you’re on a much-needed getaway 

Offer the same type of kindness you were giving the flight staff with those who work at your hotel, because they are equally as likely to offer you perks.

Don’t tell them it’s your birthday or anniversary if it’s not, but instead say this is a much-needed romantic getaway for your partner.

‘I never once have not been given a room upgrade or gorgeous bottle of wine and/or a lovely platter of food, fruit, cake – you name it,’ she said.

‘Remember, unless it’ s a small business the upgrade is not coming from their pocket so it’s no skin off their nose.’

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