These two words could get you an upgrade on your flight

We’ve all done it – plastered on our widest smile, batted our eyelashes and turned on the charm at the check-in desk in the hopes of getting an upgrade on a flight. But despite our very best efforts, we still end up stuck in standard class, wondering where we went wrong with our (ever-so-polite) request.

New York Times best-selling author Tilly Bagshawe, who flies an average of 100,000 miles a year, may have just solved the mystery. During an interview with Bloomberg, the British expat revealed that there are two words that make all the difference when you’re angling for an upgrade.

Her preferred airline is Virgin Atlantic – mainly because the attendants are ‘so nice, always laughing’, but also because they bring Fab ice lollies around half way through the flight (a woman after our own hearts). And when you’re travelling with Virgin, she says that the trick is to call the reservations team before you fly and drop the name ‘revenue management’.


According to Tilly, it’s this team’s job to make sure that a flight is profitable, and because not many people know they exist, ‘by mentioning it you reveal yourself as someone who knows how things work and understands how seats are released.’

‘Say to the agent: “Have revenue management released any first-class seats for miles upgrades yet?”‘, she advises. ‘When they say no, ask them to check or just be put through to revenue management so you can ask when they will release some, as well as how many seats are left.’

‘Politely respond like this: “You have 20 seats unsold? Why aren’t you releasing them?” Often by the end of the conversation they say, “OK, we’ll release one for you,’ or they might tell you to call back tomorrow.”‘

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this method will work – but Tilly’s rate of success is 100%, and as the old adage goes, if you don’t ask you don’t get…