MSE Poll: How common are free flight upgrades?

Poll started 15 August 2017

How common are free flight upgrades?

Are the days of sweet-talking check-in staff to get a free upgrade to premium economy, business, or first class, long gone? Many airlines now sell spare upgrade capacity at the desk. So we want to see how common free upgrades are.

Please answer the closest to your situation for flights IN THE PAST TWO YEARS.

Did you vote? Are you surprised at the results so far? Have your say below. To see the results from last time, click here.

If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.

Thanks! :)



  • LuxflLuxfl Forumite
    3 Posts
    Car Insurance Carver!
    As a frequent flyer on BA and Emirates, the consensus is that the only way to guarantee an upgrade is to pay for it. On rare occasions I've been upgraded when the cabin I'm booked in has been oversold, and I've been selected probably because I'm travelling alone, don't have a special meal and am a frequent flyer.

    In general, loyalty does pay. There may be examples where non-status passengers are upgraded at the last moment for operational reasons - everyone has an anecdote about this - but:

    - BA scores all of its passengers - a 'CIV' score - with higher scoring passengers getting more upgrades. I used to be 98 out of 100, and got plenty of upgrades; I'm now around 35 out of 100, and don't get them. BA also takes into account your upgrade history and tries to limit how many you get a year, to avoid people always buying cheaper tickets

    - Emirates has changed how it handles operational upgrades and now uses fare class (broadly, how much you paid) and then by status. Someone without 'status' on the most expensive 'flex plus' ticket will get upgraded ahead of a 'gold' frequent flyer on a lower 'flex' ticket

    In both cases the upgrade lists and decisions are made away from the check-in desk, or even the airport. The days of dressing smartly and asking are long gone.
  • skytskyt Forumite
    13 Posts
    There is another way of getting an upgrade; Some time ago my partner and I got the last two seats on a (relatively short) flight. The only problem was one in First and one in the back, After we boarded quick word with the bloke in the seat next to the economy seat and he was very willing to swap seats for a first-class and we got two seats together. Everybody happy!
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