Calling all economy flyers: do you know what happens in front of the cloth that separates business class from you and your ergonomically challenged, tiny coach seat? We do. And we want to help you get there too — without having to pay for it.
None of these methods are guaranteed. People pay a lot of money to travel first class — often three times the price of an economy ticket — and airlines are usually pretty stingy with that extra leg space. (Oh, the sweet, sweet leg space!) But, it does happen, so why shouldn’t it be you? You deserve it, after all. So here’s how to make it happen:
1. Be a good human
Rule No. 1 is, not surprisingly, the most basic rule on earth. The Golden Rule. Be kind. Be polite. Be considerate. People notice that. All kinds of people. Even the people who may or may not have the power to give you that empty seat in first class.
2. Be flexible
This might be the most likely way you’re going to get bumped up to first. You might even get some cash, too. All you’ve got to do is be flexible. Flights often overbook and when they do, airlines look for people willing to wait for the next flight in exchange for some airport vouchers, cash, upgrades, etc. Depending on the airline, available flight times and stubbornness of management, you might be able to bargain for a bit of spending money and an upgraded seat. But, don’t forget rule No. 1.
3. Leave the PJs in your suitcase
Jump into the shoes of an airline employee: two people have a good case for being bumped up to business class. One is wearing baggy sweatpants and an oversized boy band t-shirt that looks like it should have been retired (if not burned) years ago. The other is not dressed up, but looks clean and neat in work-appropriate clothing. Easy decision. PJs are for bedtime in your own home. Besides, if you make it to first class, they might just have some for you.
4. Get a frequent flyer card
If you fly regularly, this is a no-brainer. Most airlines belong to a frequent flyer program or have their own individual rewards system. The more you fly, the more you get. Usually, points can be used to get you to the front of the cabin. Or you could spend those points on a new blender…you do need a new blender.
5. Get another card!
You see the people at the stands in the airport, like pop-up bank stands, offering credit cards with various hooks. Well, depending on your personal financial situation and the frequency of your travel, there might be a credit card that could start opening doors for you. And one of those doors might lead to the first-class cabin.
6. Be the early bird
The early bird gets the hot towel and glass of champagne…before takeoff! Sometimes airlines will have sales on upgrades or lounge access. Or, if you’re a VIP flyer, (see Rule 4), there could be an open spot or two. This communication can happen as you check in.
7. Or be tardy to the party
Ok, so don’t try to be late — that’s never a good policy. But always be aware of why you’re late. If your tardiness can be pinned on the airline or a partner airline, definitely bring that to the staff’s attention. Again, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, so use your natural Canadian charm and ask nicely for an upgrade.
8. Be unlucky
Having a bad day? Nursing a broken leg? Fighting the first migraine you’ve suffered in 30 years? Well, maybe the right person will take note and offer you a more comfortable seat.
Still relegated to the cheap seats in the back? Remember that if all else fails, a comfy neck-pillow and a travel blanket are always key.