Airlines are very good at estimating the demand for their flights. They know how many seats to oversell their cabins by, in anticipation of cancellations before departure. Sometimes you might get moved up front on a flight when this goes slightly wrong, meaning you just got upgraded for free.

That is the holy grail of flying really, having paid for an economy class seat and sitting in business class. People who have it happen to them go on about and quite rightly as it’s just not that common.

Who Upgraded You For Free?

I’m wondering which airlines give out upgrades on a regular basis. I know that in the United States, frequent flyers with elite status can get on the upgrade list and move up a cabin, but that’s not really what I am talking about here.

In my personal experience, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been moved to a premium cabin unexpectedly. The first time was in 2008 on a flight from Dublin to Budapest on Malev, which was a wonderful surprise.

The second time was nine years later in 2017 on a British Airways flight from Dublin to London City. After that, it was with American Airlines from Cleveland to Charlotte in October 2022 and the fourth and final time was earlier this month on British Airways again, this time Dublin to London Heathrow.

I’ve averaged 30 flights per year for the past 17 years and I’ve had four upgrades, all of them on short-haul flights. One day I might get upgraded on an international flight and I won’t know what to do with myself!

Overall Thoughts

When an airline has upgraded you for free, it’s a cause for celebration. On my Dublin to London flight last month, the special upgrade offer was €108 and I didn’t take it. Since I was moved up anyway, I literally saved that amount of cash.

What are your experiences with operational upgrades due to oversold flights and whatnot? Have you had many or any of these? What was the best one? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by A320neoceo via Wikimedia Commons.