Saturday 9 September 2017

Best way to get an upgrade and pick the best seats when flying

When it comes to booking your seat on a flight it's key to remember that not all are born the same! By that I mean each seat may look the similar on your airlines choice map but in reality, some have extra leg room or even restricted leg room. So how do you avoid those crap seats on your next flight and bag yourself some extra comfort in the tin can?

Seat Guide Websites 

The best tool to see a more representative map of your flight is by using one of these websites, just enter your flight number, date of travelling and you will see which aircraft you will be flying on plus a map of the seat layout. Click on each seat to see if it's a good one or a bad one, some even have reviews of where people have flown on that seat before. 

Short Haul 

If you are flying short haul then its relatively simple to pick the best seats here, avoid the back seats as these may have restricted reclining and so-long as there are no screens on the seats you don't need to worry about any entertainment units blocking leg room under certain ones. Pay a little extra for that exit row seats or the first-row seats (some only become available within 24 hours of flight so will look occupied if trying to book too far in advance). 

Long Haul 

Before you fly

If your flying long haul then it becomes a different story, these aircraft's are wide bodied and the airline does their best to cram in as many seats as they can. If you book far enough in advance some airlines have a couple of rows of two at the back but watch out for that last row which may not recline. Check out for the front row near the exists or bulkheads, as some have a missing seat in front of them (giving you extra leg room).

Can't pick your seats until 24 hours before your flight, well you need to be up, logged in and ready to jump on that website when the facility opens to get yourself the best seats (have a game plan of which seats you would prefer).

At the check in desk

Arrive early to your check in, airlines sometimes hold some seats so if you were left with the best of a bad bunch when picking online you can always ask and see if they have anything else available.

On the other hand, if you know your flight may be oversold and don't mind being delayed for a day tell the check in staff you are willing to be bumped if needed, this will secure you a free night, some extra Air-Miles and most likely a better seat on the next flight. A rough check to see if your flight is oversold is to try buy a ticket online for it, if it's extremely expensive or not available then it's probably sold out.

If your flying with some airlines (Emirates) they will not release the exit rows until checking in at a desk so it's always worth asking if they have some exit rows available. They do this because they want to check you a physically able to operate the exit door.


Upgrade to Business Class for money or Airmiles?

The first thing you need to do is sign up to the frequent flyer program of your airline, then keep an eye out in your emails from 7 days before departures. Emirates, KLM, Air-France & many more will offer you cheap upgrade promotion if the flight is reasonably empty. For example I was offered an upgrade with Emirates from Glasgow to Dubai from a super cheap economy ticket to business class for just £300. 

The use of Air-miles depends on the airline you are using them on, for British Airways you can only use Air-miles to upgrade if there is "redemption seats" available. Since there are never that many redemption seats available its best to use the book and upgrade facility over on the BA website (this will show you exactly what flights you can use them with). 

Click here for a more in depth guide to using Air-Miles (Avios)

Upgrade to Business Class for FREE?

You can only really get free upgrades if your a frequent flyer and have status with the airline, even then they tend not to give out them out that often.

However I do know that if your flying Emirates as a single traveler they are prone to give free upgrades to business class, just ask at check in desk if they need some extra space in economy and that you would be more than willing to be upgraded (for free). If your lucky enough, the check in staff will tell you to go through departures and listen for your name on the PA system. If you hear your name then you could be in luck, or they've lost your luggage! (I know 2 people this has worked for). 

If your flying British Airways, then download the BA App as they have just launched a last minute upgrade facility which you can use after you check in. This means once you're checked in and through departures up to 45min before take-off you may be offered a cheap upgrade via the app. This is a new service so prices have not really come out yet but it could be a great tool to use to grab a cheap premium economy or business/first class upgrade.

Got any other handy hint and tips that should be included? Let me know in the comments section and I will be sure to add it! 

Thanks for reading, Cal Mc


  1. Very very useful tip.
    However back in India, all airlines charge extra for all window seats.. So its completely not advisable to check in online. Plus better to check in 1-2 hours only and you'll be sure of getting a window and priority front seats. I got this done twice during my previous trip :) But I really liked your post .
    Do check out my site : as well if u hv time

    1. Hey Karthik, do you mean every seat next to a window is charged extra? or are you referring to just exit row seats? Checking in just 1-2 hours before departure is a great way of getting some better seats if available for sure.

      I will deff check your site out :)

      thanks again! Cal

  2. I've always wondered how to get those upgrades! Will try out a few of your tactics. Thanks for sharing the love :)

    1. No problem, glad you enjoyed it and hope it helps you on your next flight!

  3. Replies
    1. Hey thanks very much, great to hear such positive feedback! I hope it helps you when you fly next and let me know if you manage to get an upgrade bargain! :)


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