Get­ting an up­grade is the holy grail of plane travel. Vet­eran travel writer Si­mon Hors­ford has some pro tips for bag­ging a pre­mium seat

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Want to fly first class with­out pay­ing the pre­mium price tag? Our travel writer shares some in­sider tips to help you score a lux­ury up­grade for free

So you want to turn left when you get on the plane rather than be­ing stuck at the back? Yeah, us too. Loung­ing in first class is the per­fect way to kick off a hol­i­day, or to make a work trip more plea­sur­able, but the price of pre­mium travel is of­ten enough to make your eyes wa­ter. A one-way up­per class seat on a Qan­tas flight from Sydney to Lon­don, for ex­am­ple, costs around $10,000, some­thing only movie stars and oligarchs can af­ford.

How­ever, there are ways of im­prov­ing your chances of up­grad­ing an econ­omy class ticket. For a start, fre­quent fliers who use the same air­line and pay the full price for their ticket will in­evitably be favoured if an up­grade be­comes avail­able. Trav­el­ling on your own cer­tainly helps, as there’s less peo­ple to up­grade to First Class, while choos­ing a less pop­u­lar route is also a good tac­tic. Avoid­ing busi­ness routes at peak times (Mon­day morn­ings and Thurs­day/ Fri­day af­ter­noons) will also in­crease your chances of a free up­grade. You could try se­lect­ing a flight to a sea­side re­sort dur­ing the school hol­i­days, too, as there’ll be fewer sin­gle pas­sen­gers so more chances for you to bag that pre­mium up­grade for nought.

Al­ter­na­tively, hav­ing a good rea­son, such as a birth­day or an­niver­sary, can work at the check-in desk. Above all, look smart and be ex­tra po­lite. Free up­grades don’t hap­pen of­ten, but when they do the com­pli­men­tary cham­pagne tastes all the bet­ter.

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