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26th Apr 2024

Flight attendant reveals reason why some passengers will never be offered a free upgrade

Sophie Collins


There is one demographic that faces slim chances of a premium flight upgrade

Scoring an upgrade on a flight is a prospect that many travellers are hopeful about – particularly on long-haul journeys.

When we hear stories about passengers receiving unexpected boosts to business or first class, the mystery of who, why and how persists. 

There are hundreds of online theories about how to increase your chances of an upgrade, and now, industry insiders are shedding light on how it works.

But what are the real secrets to securing that coveted seat in business or first class?

Mandy Smith, a former cabin crew member with Virgin Atlantic, recently shared some insights into how they make their choice.

“If I could tell you how many times I’ve been asked this, it’s hilarious,” Smith said in a video as part of LADbible’s Honesty Box series.

“Dress for the cabin that you want to be in”

Dispelling some myths, Smith offered practical advice on improving the odds of a successful upgrade bid. 

“Dress well, and dress for the cabin that you want to be in,” she advised. However, she also said there is one demographic that faces slim chances of a premium class upgrade: families with children.

According to Smith, airlines are unlikely to upgrade passengers traveling with children, due to potential disruptions to other passengers. 

“They would never put a child in upper class or in premium economy because then the children usually disturb the other passengers,” she explained.

Smith highlighted the airline’s preference for revenue generation over complimentary upgrades, emphasising that standby passengers often receive priority for any available seats. 

While this approach may seem counterintuitive to some, it shows the airline’s commitment to maintaining a balance between service quality and financial sustainability.

In essence, a flight upgrade involves more than mere chance or luck. By adhering to etiquette, dressing appropriately, and understanding the airline’s priorities, passengers can enhance their prospects of enjoying an elevated flying experience.

As Smith concluded by saying: “Be polite, and be nice, don’t shout at anyone because negative behaviour is not rewarded.”