Fear the Middle Seat: 5 Tips for Free Airline Seat Upgrades

Fear the Middle Seat: 5 Tips for Free Airline Seat Upgrades

So you've booked your dream vacation. Everything is perfect except for one problem: you're stuck in the middle seat on the plane. Fortunately, there are several ways to go about getting a free upgrade on your next flight. Here are a few tips on how to get a free airline upgrade.

Free Seat Upgrade

Go from the back to the front of your next flight!

  1. Airline Status: The easiest way to get an upgrade is to have airline status. If you're a frequent flyer, you probably already have your preferred airline and we hope by now you've signed up with one of their frequent flyer clubs. The more status you have, the better your perks are going to be. Especially with oversold flights, they're more likely to choose you for an upgrade over somebody else.
  2. Credit Cards: If you're loyal to a specific airline, you should also apply for their specific credit card if you haven't already. In addition to upgrades, you'll probably get other perks like free checked bags and priority boarding just for having the card! You also can earn miles just by making your regular purchases as many match every dollar spent for mile earned, like this American Airlines Visa.
  3. Set an Alert: Online sites like ExpertFlyer or MySeatUpgrade can be a great way to keep a look out for an upgrade. ExpertFlyer's free version will alert you when a free seat that you've selected as your preference becomes available on your upcoming flight. MySeatUpgrade also tracks empty seats, but takes it a step further and changes your seat for you. You must provide them with your frequent flyer number and pin to do so.
  4. Check-in Early: Check in right at the 24 hour mark and check out what seats are available. Chances are somebody else upgraded and now a better seat is available for you.
  5. Be Late: This final way to try and get a seat upgrade may seem in direct conflict with our last tip, and you're right. You certainly can't do both, but either can work. Pay attention when the flight crew calls passengers to the podium while you're waiting to board your flight. The moment they're finished, jump up there and see if they have any seats available now. You might get a decent seat someone just abandoned. Conversely, all the seats in coach on an overbooked flight might be taken and you might be put in first class by default. Either way, it's a win!

Good luck BradsDeals readers! And be sure to let us know if you have any more tips or tricks for free flight seat upgrades in the comments below.

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Photos Courtesy of Kevin Dooley. Some rights reserved.