Although free flight upgrades do occur, the fact is that they’re very rare. Nonetheless, an airline employee and a frequent flyer have each shared two specific occasions when travellers might find themselves being bumped as much as business class.
“Your likelihood of getting upgraded relies on some secret voodoo magic behind the scenes but likely there will likely be a correlation between the fare you obtain (fully flexible refundable ticket versus ultra-discount nonrefundable ticket) and your frequent flyer status with the carrier, and doubtless the time you checked in in your flight.
“Again, this relies on my experience with European carriers where premium cabins are generally reserved for those who paid for the product, US carriers may differ.”
Thus far, the traveller said this has happened to them on three separate occasions.
They explained: “I’ve flown Toronto-London a number of times and been upgraded to business on each leg of three round trips since it’s a well-liked flight and continuously oversold, but more often I fly short-haul throughout Europe and on those routes, it isn’t unusual to see a totally empty business class section.”
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An airline employee backed up the speculation, stating that upgrades are likely to go to those with the highest-ranking member card or most loyalty.
They said upgrades were typically decided “based on who has member cards – first with their very own company, then their airline ground, for instance, star alliance gold.”
The employee continued: “Assuming there are not any member cards on the flight then it goes to taking a look at fare classes.
“Next time you book a ticket, even for those who only book economy, there are different subclasses.
“‘Y’ [ticket code] is generally full fare economy on all airlines.
“Different airlines use different classes but full fare economy is not way more expensive than lowest class business or premium economy, so the loss for the airline is not that much.” [SIC]
How one can get an airline frequent flyer card
You may change into a frequent flyer by signing up for a person airline’s frequent flyer program.
Each airline will provide have its own specific rules for obtaining a loyalty card.
For airlines comparable to British Airways, passengers can get an Executive Club card depending on how often they fly.
Different flights are value different amounts of points.
There are three elite levels within the Executive Club program: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
For Bronze, either fly BA twice and earn 300 Tier Points or take 25 BA flights.
To get Silver, either fly BA 4 times and earn 600 Tier Points or take 50 BA flights.
To succeed in Gold, fly BA 4 times and earn 1,500 Tier Points.
Under British Airways rules, upgrades are likely to be reserved for Gold members only.