Traveling first class is the dream for many, but the majority simply can’t afford it. The best we can hope for is scoring those free upgrades that airlines sometimes give out to lucky passengers.

In truth, trying to get bumped up for free is very tricky. It really comes down to luck and being in the right place at the right time. Still, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of finally seeing the inside of that first-class lounge.

There are no miracles when it comes to free upgrades, but the following methods have been proven to increase your chances.

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10 Travel On Busy Flights

You would think that the less busy the flight, the more chance you have of getting a free upgrade, right? Well actually, it’s the opposite. Airlines very rarely give out free upgrades just because they’re available. Your best bet is to travel on a busy flight where the coach cabin is full or overbooked.

When coach is overbooked or too crowded but there is room in the premium cabins, you have much more chance of being upgraded than if there’s ample room in both cabins. Traveling at busier times to popular destinations will increase your chances of scoring that upgrade.

9 Offer To Give Up Your Seat So Large Families Can Sit Together

It’s very rare to be upgraded for no reason. But if moving you will be beneficial to other passengers, that’s often a great reason to upgrade you (from the airline’s perspective). If you’re sitting in the middle of a large family and breaking them up, you can kindly suggest to the crew that you’re willing to move to allow the family to sit together.

In some cases, this will result in you moving somewhere else in the coach cabin. But if you’re lucky, you could end up being moved to the premium cabin. It all depends on how busy the flight is.

8 Show Off Your Impressive Title

If there was ever a good time to brag about having a fancy title to your name, it’s when you’re trying to get a free flight upgrade. Being a doctor or a judge shouldn’t make any difference to whether you’re upgraded or not in theory, but it does in reality. According to Money Saving Expertyou have a higher chance of getting an upgrade if you have an impressive title.

When trying to go this route, make sure that you make your title known beforehand. Use the title when making your booking or get the travel agent to make a note of it. Just make sure it matches the name on your passport.

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7 Get Some Help From Your Travel Agent

Speaking of travel agents, yours might just be able to help you score that upgrade. After all, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Smarter Travel explains that some travel agents have special relationships with certain airlines that allow them to book specialized seats.

When upgrades become available, your travel agent might have access to that information before anyone else so you can jump to the front of the queue. And as we mentioned, your travel agent can make notes on your file that increase your chances of being upgraded.

6 Dress Like You Deserve An Upgrade

When you want to be upgraded without paying for it, you really have to dress to impress. That means dressing like the type of person who does travel in business or first class, rather than wearing scruffy clothing. If you won’t fit in the premium cabin, your chances of being taken there tremendously drop.

That’s not to say that if you dress well you’ll automatically be upgraded. This is just one of those techniques that can increase your chances. You’ll get to the front of the plane faster by dressing nicely.

5 Build A Relationship With The Airline Through A Loyalty Program

Sometimes, the best way to get an upgrade is to build a relationship with a particular airline by joining their loyalty program. Some airlines allow frequent flyers to accumulate points that they can then put towards upgrades or flights without having to pay for them.

When you have a good relationship with the airline and become one of their top-tier members, you skip to the front of the queue when upgraded seats become available. You’re always more likely to score an upgrade if you have some kind of relationship with the airline, even if you’re not a top-tier member.

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4 Bring Your Own Food If You Have Dietary Requirements

Unfortunately, having special dietary needs does not increase your chances of sitting at the front of the plane. In fact, it does the opposite. When you need meals that are gluten-free or lactose-free or vegan, it’s harder for the airline to place you in the premium cabin at the last minute as there are rarely spares of meals like these.

That just means that rather than letting the airline know that you follow a special diet, you bring your own snacks. That way you can still eat on the plane without destroying your chances of getting that upgrade.

3 Tell Them When You’re On Your Honeymoon

If you’re looking to get a free upgrade when traveling, you’ll definitely want to tell them when you’re on your honeymoon. Although it’s rare, airlines do sometimes bump people up when they’re celebrating special events like that. It never hurts to mention it, just like Monica and Chandler did in that episode of Friends.

You can also let them know when you’re celebrating your anniversary or any other special event that might make them feel like giving you special treatment. This isn’t a guaranteed method of getting bumped up, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

2 Let Them Know When The Airline Has Inconvenienced You

If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s inevitable that an airline will inconvenience you at some stage. Although things like losing your luggage or double booking your seat, use them as leverage to increase your chances of getting upgraded. When something has happened, politely let them know that they’ve inconvenienced you. Many airlines are big on customer service and will want to make it up to you in some way—that might include upgrading you.

Remember, you don’t want to complain or be rude. Even if the airline is at fault, that will probably get you further away from any available upgrades! Let them know that you have been inconvenienced in a nice way for the best results.

1 Always Remember Your Manners When Asking

That brings us to our next point. Sometimes, you can try your luck just asking if there are any free upgrades available. Ask and ye shall receive, right? The thing to remember is you should always be polite when asking. You can throw in a compliment or two, but don’t get carried away or you risk exposing your plan.

It’s best to ask the check-in agents rather than the crew as they tend to have more control over the seating chart of the plane. You might like to ask after everyone else has checked in so it will be clear if there really are any premium seats available.

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