That Time I Got a Free Flight Upgrade

New York Skyline, New York, Skyscraper

I look back on all of my past adventures with my sister with a big smile. Though that time we got a free flight upgrade with British Airways always brings an even bigger smile. Most people want to know what the fail safe secret to bagging an upgrade is and I would love to share it with you. I really would.

However, like this Heathrow Express post mentions, I’m afraid I don’t have the secret. That time my sister and I bagged one was a totally surprising fluke.

The Trip

We were flying from London to New York on a five-day city break. I’d already been before during my RTW trip and had no huge urge to go back (the curse of wanting to see as much of the globe as possible). However, my sister longed to go there like her life depended on it. She fantasied about the skyscrapers, shopping, Central Park, the food (OMG the food), the yellow cabs….she wanted to experience every single cliche. For her 21st birthday we decided to make it happen. Being the lovely big sister that I am, I happily made the difficult decision to go with her.

We saved our pennies by banking Christmas and birthday presents. We then maximised those pennies by shopping around for the cheapest flights, which happened to be with British Airways at the time. We plotted our trip with girly giddiness, planning all the spots we’d visit, though the list of all the food we wanted to eat was a lot longer.

New York Skyline, New York, Skyscraper, free flight upgrade

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

As we travelled down to the airport we decided we had nothing to lose by asking if there was a possibility of a free upgrade to the next class. We smiled politely at the check-in girl and made small talk, before casually mentioning that it was my sister’s 21st birthday and that an upgrade would absolutely make her day. “The flight is fully booked, madam” was the short reply we received.

Undeterred and quite frankly bored in the waiting area, my sister mustered the courage to walk over to the boarding desk and to try again. Feeling the eyes of other passengers on her she practically whispered our request to the uniformed lady. I attempted to look like a classier passenger and sat as upright as I could, hoping she wouldn’t notice my bad posture. FYI it’s so hard to look elegant and preened when you’re wearing a duffle coat and winter boots!

It was a flat out no, so we resigned ourselves to travelling the eight or so hours in economy. Despite not lucking out with the flights we were in high spirits as we boarded the plane. We felt nothing but excitement for our ultimate sister weekend. Fast forward five minutes and we were anything but happy.

New York, NYC, America, Smoke, Mist, Taxi

No Pain, No Gain

A weary mother with three children who compensated for her lack of energy (some might even say over compensated) sat right behind us. We knew that because they continuously kicked our chairs, hung off the head rests, screamed and did everything they could to let us know of their presence. Their poor mother had given up any attempt of control and simply let them carry on.

After twenty minutes of mayhem we decided we wouldn’t be able to cope. Whether it was karma for our earlier requests or not, we needed sleep. My sister went to the end of the aisle and politely asked the hostess if we could be moved. She was discreet and simply asked nicely. The busy hostess said she’d try, but that it was a full flight. A few minutes later she returned to say that she could switch us seats, but we wouldn’t be sat together. A little sad, but more desperate, we agreed that’d be fine. She promised to move us once we were in the air and we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“Row 9 D & E, just through that curtain ladies” she pointed. We gathered our things and walked down the aisle. We kept going and going, before nervously walking past the curtain. It felt like a mile from our original seats and as we turned around to face the front of the plane we realised the curtain symbolised the doorway to the next world. We’d done it! We had new seats away from the crazy neighbours, we were sat together and we were in the next class.

We enjoyed our bucket seats, giggling away for the entire journey. Who needs sleep when you have a free upgrade to enjoy?!

Have you ever been upgraded on a flight? What’s your story and do you have any tips? X

This post is brought to you in association with Heathrow Express and their upgrade tips.

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Comments (7)

  • […] got a free upgrade when I flew to New York, so who knows? Maybe your trip to the city will be just as lucky and exciting! Happy […]

  • This is the best story ever! I am too nervous to ask and quite frankly, with the way I dress for long haul flights I wouldn’t say yes to me. If anything, I would make me ride in with the luggage ;) haha

    Taylor Hearts Travel 6 years ago Reply

    Haha, thanks Sammy! Your comment made me laugh. I can totally relate – I’d rather pick comfort over glam on flights anytime. I couldn’t imagine wearing heels for flights, though I am always envious of celebs and hostesses who always manage to look immaculate. I always have best intentions for my next flight but then it goes out of the window when I see my early check-in time!

  • Hannah Wasielewski 6 years ago Reply

    I’m still waiting for that day to come! But I’ve never actually tried asking, I really need to do that one day and see what happens!

    Taylor Hearts Travel 6 years ago Reply

    There’s no harm in asking, especially if you’re a frequent flier. I think so long as you’re discreet and polite you’ve got nothing to lose. That said, the NYC flight is the only time it’s happened to me and I’ve taken a quite a few flights!

  • I definitely don’t have any tips on this one, as I’m always the one hoping to blag an upgrade – I keep telling my husband it’s because he doesn’t dress smartly but he’s insistent that’s nothing to do with it and therefore thinks it’s more important to be comfy!! If I ever blag one, I’ll let you know! :-D

    Taylor Hearts Travel 6 years ago Reply

    Oh I know what you mean. I’m all about comfort on flights, especially long haul ones so I don’t blame your husband! I have to confess that I usually suggest that my husband wears something a bit smarter in the hope of a miracle upgrade happening. It hasn’t worked so far – even on our honeymoon – so we usually opt for the comfort factor! I think the NYC upgrade was definitely a lucky experience!

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