Have You Ever Been Upgraded To First Class Without Paying For It?

Have You Ever Been Upgraded To First Class Without Paying For It?

Sure, you can fly first class if you’re willing to fork over the cash or your travel rewards. And it may be worth every cent. Even better than paying for first class, though, is getting it for free. If this has happened to you, we want to know your secret.

Photo by Richard Moross

It’s not common, but every now and then, it happens: someone gets lucky and scores a first class or business class upgrade for cheap, or better yet, free. Maybe the flight was full and you haggled your way to a sweet discount. Maybe you were extra nice to a flight attendant who decided to throw you a bone. However you made your way to first class, we want to know about it.

So tell us — if you’ve ever been upgraded for cheap or free, what happened, and how did you do it?


  • I enjoyed this otherwise mythical event once….

    Perth to Singapore on Singapore Airlines

    The exit row seats that I booked had been taken from me and given to a 2 person medical team travelling with a small machine.

    My wife and I were upgraded to First Class for the journey. It was amazing. The food, the drinks, the service……. Even better was the personal visit by the pilot with a letter saying that we would enjoy a refund for the additional cost of the extra row seating. But this was not the only amazing thing, upon checking in to our hotel in Singapore, we were met by a gentleman in a suit representing the Singaporean government. Little did we know, but the medical team that took our seats were flying with live organs.
    He took us for a drink at the hotel bar whilst to explain the situation and thank us for our understanding.
    We finally got taken to our room, to find that the Singaporean government had paid for our upgrade to the Presidential Suite for the entire 11 day stay.

    Once in a lifetime stuff….. doubt ill live that life again in my lifetime…

  • I once tried after reading a whole stack of “this is how easy it was” articles in upgrading your seat… I only got looked at funny when I tried almost like she was totally offended I bothered to try asking.. haven’t tried again.

  • I was flying SYD-LAX on xmas eve some years ago and was randomly upgraded to premium economy…that opened a whole new world for me. Since then I’ve chased status and now only fly business using points upgrades from paid fares

  • One time, yes, and sadly nothing as luxurious as mistajinnx’s experience. My girlfriend and I had booked premium economy tickets with Qantas, Sydney to Tokyo. On the day of departure I checked our booking, online, and saw that we’d been reallocated seats in business class.
    That’s it – out of the well over 150 flights I’ve taken in my life, many in business and first, that’s it – my one and only success story. I don’t know if it was relevant but at that time we both had silver status with Qantas.

  • Sydney to Perth – soooo hung over coudn’t capitalise on it
    Sydney to Melbourne – the morning commuter, I had just made the red eye from Perth and was in jeans and a t-shirt with my eyes hanging out of my head from lack of sleep. all the passengers around me were in suits using their laptops etc. felt very out of place for 45 minutes.

  • Two friends in two weeks got this. One last week, one this week. Both with QANTAS, both because QANTAS made an error on their original flight. They offered them first class on the return flight to apologise. Not sure what the error was.

  • I have had quite a few free bump up to first/business (depending on the route). The secret to scoring free upgrades to business or first is to fly on busy routes AND have high frequent flyer status on the plane. One in a billion chances like Mistajinx awesome trip do happen, but the op up bump in class goes to people with airline status, and after that to people in the higher fare bucket for their ticket.

  • I’ve never been upgraded to first class but I was once upgraded to business class.

    I was flying home with my mum after traveling for surgery (bone graft, fun!) and they offered us business class seats when we boarded. I think they felt sorry for me, since I was wheeled onto the plane in a wheelchair and probably looking sad and sore!

    Business class was lovely, especially for my 9-year-old self who’d only ever flown economy. I just remember having so much more room and a more comfortable seat.

  • Yes, but to be honest, I’m not sure how we got it.

    We’d flown Dubrovnik > Zagreb > Zurich > Hong Kong and were about to embark on our last leg home (HK > Sydney). We were exhausted as it had been almost 24hrs since leaving Dubrovnik and we’d barely slept. I’m not a particularly good flyer to begin with either, and we’d noticed our seats weren’t next to each other. I asked the lady at the desk in the transfer area (?) and she wasn’t sure whether she could help, so we said thanks anyway and trotted off to find our gate. When we got there we were called up and thought “oh god what have we done” and we were told we had new seats. We figured they were next to each other (yay!) and thanked them profusely, then sat back down.

    We looked at the numbers and we were confused because they didn’t seem to be next to each other either. Then my friend said “they’re first class” …and suddenly I didn’t care so much about sitting next to him anymore.

    Best flight of my life. There were only six seats in first class and we were treated like royalty. They knew us by name and couldn’t do enough to make us happy. I just wish I’d been a bit more awake to enjoy it!! Full on white table cloth, fine dining, COMFY lay flat beds, and fancier cosmetics than I use at home. I tried to stay awake to enjoy the luxury but I ended up passing out and sleeping soundly through breakfast. From memory we were also given some sort of priority entry card things to get through customs and immigration faster, but this is going back almost 10 years and like I said – I was beyond tired!

    No idea what prompted them to upgrade us other than potentially pity, or perhaps thinking we were a young couple on our honeymoon?? – but we were very grateful!

  • Was an air France Traveler for a long time and avidly tracked my points and more importantly my status points. After gaining platinum status I never traveled in the class that was booked for me again. Economy got me bumped up to premium, premium up to business or first and business always up to first. Despite their woeful safety record I don’t have a bad word to say about Air France.

  • id just had major surgery in the us and was on my way back home and i still dont know how my friend pulled it off but she had a quick chat with the people at the check out counter and im bumped from economy to 1st class like that.

    that girl can convince anyone to do just about anything. ive also known her to have people trying to mug her end up buying her a coffee to appologise.

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