Business class upgrade

Do people still get upgraded to business (or even first class) in the event of the airline overbooking economy? Is there anything you can do or be that increases your chances of earning this valuable perk that will the best start to a holiday?

I have heard rumours if your title is "Dr" or even "Professor" it increases your chances. How about "Sir"? Do they proritise frequent fliers or is it entirely the luck of the draw. Is it more likely if you a solo travellor, if if you are already dressed smartly?

To those flying business, how do you feel when you know someone has had a free upgrade (usually easy to see from the sheer joy and excitement on their faces and the numerous photos being taken for their socials) when you've had to fork out £10k per ticket?
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Comments

  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 10,395 Forumite
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    Solo travellers that hold status with the airline or its group are more likely to be bumped up. Happened a couple of times to me with BA from PE to CW when travelling alone back when I was Gold status but I was flying 1-2 times a month to the US in PE for business


    I dont care how others got into the class... I've flown First once and I only paid $5 in taxes plus airmiles whereas someone getting a free bump from a lower class will have paid much more than me. There will be some that have spent £10,000 for their trip of a lifetime and equally will be taking photos etc. As long as they are quiet enough during the flight after the initial excitement it's ok. Increasingly upper classes now have mini suites with a door so they aren't going to be capturing my ugly mug 
  • Westin
    Westin Posts: 5,940 Forumite
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    I would agree with the comment on solo travellers with status with the airline being in prime spot for operational upgrades.

    I would also add that those with 'simple' PNR's might get preference.  If you have ordered special meals for example, this adds complexity to any upgrade and far easier to pass that passenger and move to another.  Also simpler to upgrade on a single leg sector than have issues on a multiple segment booking. e.g. If LHR-DXB is oversold, find a suitable passenger to upgrade who is flying just LHR-DXB and not connecting with LHR-DXB-MEL.
  • bagand96
    bagand96 Posts: 6,101 Forumite
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    edited 20 March at 6:42PM
    The stories of Drs, Professors, Honeymooners etc getting randomly bumped to First are very old, if they were even true at the time.

    As above, in the event that an airline has overbooked economy but has spare seats in the higher classes there's every chance they would bump people up.  However they will start with "status" passengers - those that are in the frequent flyer programme and fly with the airline a lot.  Being a solo traveller with a lot of airline miles/tier points (loyalty) is the best chance.

    What a lot of airlines also have now is paid for or even bidding systems for upgrades.  If they know they have an overbooking problem on a flight they can just drop the price of the paid/bid upgrades a week or so in advance and hope people take advantage of a cheap upgrade and solve their problem.

    For complimentary upgrades it would also be very unlikely to bump Economy > First.  There'd be a cascade of upgrades Economy > Premium Economy > Business > First.


  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,884 Forumite
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    I would suggest a solo traveller is far easier to upgrade than a couple or group.
    Priority probably goes to frequent flyers.
    I think, in the main, the dynamic pricing works to avoid this need - as a flight starts to fill, Economy price nears to Business price.  If you spend time when booking, you can sometimes see price inversions.
  • daveyjp
    daveyjp Posts: 12,521 Forumite
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    Depends on the flight.  A colleague flew back from Florida last year with his extended family (11 in total) and on check in they were allocated Virgin upper class.  They were the only ones in the cabin so it gave the crew something to do!
  • jimi_man
    jimi_man Posts: 1,100 Forumite
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    Dressing smartly plays no bearing so I wouldn’t bother. Status plays a big part as said. Sometime the airline will look at the pattern of travel and if they think someone, if offered an upgrade to Business, might well book more business fares in the future so they’ll give a discretionary upgrade. 

    On BA, World Traveller Plus is often a good place to get an upgrade as it’s a small cabin and often overbooked so upgrades happen more frequently. 
  • Doshwaster
    Doshwaster Posts: 6,136 Forumite
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    Also not to have booked a special meal as they usually can't accommodate special diet requests in a last minute upgrade.

    As a solo traveler with BA Silver status and no meal preference I have a reasonable upgrade history on long haul. Almost never happens on short haul though. A Gold or Silver in Premium Economy will have a decent chance of an upgrade as PE is often oversold.

    One trick with sometimes works is to book the bulkhead row (having status means this is free) then the airline will often have to move you to make way for a baby in a cot.

    However, the best way to guarantee an upgrade is to pay for it.

  • Kirkmain
    Kirkmain Posts: 150 Forumite
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    However, the best way to guarantee an upgrade is to pay for it.

    But that wouldnt be an "upgrade" its just getting what you pay for
  • MeteredOut
    MeteredOut Posts: 1,314 Forumite
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    edited 21 March at 3:07PM
    When I used to travel a lot for work, once I got to BA Silver or Gold, I had around 30-40% operational upgrade success when booking into Premium Economy due to overbooking.

    I used to always enquire about paid upgrades too, at the airport desks.
  • Doshwaster
    Doshwaster Posts: 6,136 Forumite
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    When I used to travel a lot for work, once I got to BA Silver or Gold, I had around 30-40% operational upgrade success when booking into Premium Economy due to overbooking.

    I used to always enquire about paid upgrades too, at the airport desks.

    Yes, Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) is the sweet spot to get upgrades - it's usually a small cabin and often overbooked. If they need to bump people up from Economy then the domino effect means people in Premium will get  shifted to Business/Club.

    My best upgrade was getting bumped to Club World (upper deck 747) at the gate on a flight to Hong Kong. I didn't want to get off the plane at the other end.
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