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Get a Free Upgrade On Your Next Flight With These Tips

Thinking you can just ask for a free upgrade next time you’re at the airport? There’s a little more to it than that. From using your Aeroplan card to how to act at the airport, try some of these tips before your next flight and you might be getting bumped to business class in no time!

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You’ve scored your cheap flight for your next trip and now you’re hoping to get a better seat for that long journey ahead. Unfortunately, upgrading your seats for free is not as easy as it used to be. But if you’re looking to get upgraded to first class for free, it isn’t totally impossible!

It’s important to note that some airlines have a strict “no upgrade” policy, so no matter how hard you try, a seat upgrade for free is not going to happen. But if you’re looking for a WestJet or Air Canada seat upgrade, there are a few things you can do.

How to Get a Free Upgrade on Your Next Flight:

1. Timing is Everything

Arrive with plenty of time before the flight; you definitely won’t get an upgraded seat if half the plane is already boarded. If you want to ask for a free upgrade, be sure to approach the gate agent when they look relaxed, not when they’re already dealing with a line full of people or multiple phone calls. You are more likely to get the opportunity for a free flight upgrade if you catch a gate agent or another airline employee at the right time. Be direct but ask politely – don’t forget to smile! – and make sure to mention if you’re on your honeymoon, recently had surgery, are celebrating. It’s amazing what a little human compassion can get you!

2. Be a Frequent Flyer

It helps to be loyal. And more often than not, it’s the frequent flyers with elite status who are eligible for a free flight upgrade. Make sure to sign up for the airline’s rewards programs; signing up for Air Canada Altitude, for example, can help you score a seat upgrade. These Altitude privileges are all saved on your Aeroplan card, and this will help certify your elite traveller status! With Aeroplan, you rack up points each time you fly with Air Canada, slowly moving up the ladder as a frequent flyer. The more points you get, the higher the status. If a flight is oversold and the airlines need to bump passengers up, they would much rather give a seat upgrade to a frequent flyer (valued customer) than someone who travels once a year.

3. Dress the Part

In life, it’s always important to dress the part! You don’t have to necessarily break out the tuxedo or ball gown, but dressing smartly (so no sweatpants and flip flops) does in fact play a factor in getting free upgraded seats on a flight. Just think, who would you want to sit next to in the business class or first-class cabin? Making yourself as presentable as possible can never hurt to help secure you a seat upgrade on your next flight. So, opt for your business casual wardrobe on your next flight and you might be on the way to a free upgrade.

4. Check the Seat Status

Arriving for your flight early has its perks, and you can take this time to try and get that free seat upgrade you’ve been dreaming of. When you get to the airport, head directly to the check-in counter of the airline you’re travelling with. The agent at the check-in counter might have more leverage over the status of the seating chart, so this is a good opportunity to ask about the availability of seats. Once you’re at the gate for your departure, it’s not a bad idea to stay in close proximity to the gate agent desk (although please don’t be that annoying lingerer) so that you are right there if any last-minute cancellations occur and they are offering free seat upgrades. You never know!

5. Stay in Touch With Your Airline

Sometimes booking a flight with a third-party you end up forgetting what airline you’re flying with. Make sure you know where you booked your ticket and what airline you’re using for your trip. It helps if you have the Aeroplan card or any frequent flyer membership number so that you can easily input the number in the airline’s website to check the status of your flight. Also, make a point to check your email frequently the day before your scheduled flight to see if there are any changes or if they’ve messaged you about any possibilities to upgrade.

6. Travel Solo

It pays to go it alone! If you’re taking a trip to Hawaii with a party of five, your party is probably not going to get upgraded to first class for free. Although a single traveller, and especially a traveller with only a small carry-on bag, is more likely to get an upgrade on a flight. It’s much easier for the staff to move one passenger around than a group. Bonus points if you’re a solo traveller who dresses well. You’ll be enjoying extra legroom or even onboard WiFi before you know it!

For more tips on how to get your seats upgraded for free, check out this article.

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When to Pay to Upgrade Your Seat

If you’re not lucky enough to get free upgrades when you fly, it might be time to consider paying to upgrade your seat. Upgrading your seat is a good way to ensure at least a little bit more comfort and hopefully land a few extra perks, too.

What’s the difference between business and first class?

The truth is that, in the cases of most airlines, there is sometimes little or even no difference between flying business or flying first class. It often comes down to whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, and also depends on the airline.

If you’re flying domestically, a first class or business seat upgrade will usually come with slightly bigger seats, an extra level of service, and some craft services. Flying with a first class or business seat internationally, however, usually means quite an increase in comfort and luxury, especially when flying overseas to another continent.

The best way to score cheap business or first class seat upgrades is to take advantage of saving your travel points or Air Miles. If you save enough, you can get first class upgrades both domestically and internationally.

Canadian Airlines That Offer Upgrades

Air Canada allows you to bid for an upgrade. They allow for upgrades to their Signature Class and Premium Economy Class. Not all seats are eligible for an upgrade, so check your route before you start planning your bid. Bidding and offers for an upgrade can only be made by passengers 72 hours before the flight.

A great trick for upgrading to business class on WestJet is to check in online exactly 24 hours before your flight. If there are any business class seats (WestJet Plus seats) available, you can often purchase them for much cheaper than their original price. Not a bad deal to ensure a bit more comfort (and an included glass of wine or two).

What are you waiting for? Book your next cheap flight with Skyscanner today!