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Everyone's heard stories of passengers being upgraded on overbooked flights. An upgrade may not be free, but it can be inexpensive.
Step 1: Buy a Y-UP fare
Ask about upgrade prices when booking a plane ticket, and purchase Y-UP also known as Q-UP or Z fares. Although Y-UP fares are more expensive and have greater restrictions, these tickets are more likely to be upgraded.
Step 2: Treat the employees nicely
Treat the employees at the airline with respect. They are more likely to grant your request if they like you.
Let the employees at the check-in desk know why you're traveling. They might be able to offer you perks for special occasions.
Step 3: Join a frequent flier club
Join a frequent flier mileage club and be a loyal customer of the airline. Let the employees at the airline know this. You might be able to trade in your earned miles for a free upgrade.
Use a credit card that lets you earn miles with your preferred airline.
Step 4: Fit the profile
Fit the customer profile for typical upgrades. Usually, upgrades go to passengers who arrive early and are traveling alone.
Step 5: Give a specific reason
Give a specific reason for wanting an upgrade to first or business class on the plane, such as wanting to sit closer to the front because you fear turbulence, or needing an aisle seat to accommodate long legs.
Don't give up hope if you check in late: airlines have a habit of overbooking economy class, and if the coach seats fill up before a late check-in, you could get upgraded.
Step 6: Be willing to move
Be willing to move when asked by an employee. Don't immediately refuse. They may be offering you an upgrade. With these tips and a little luck, you'll be flying in comfort.