It’s not your suit and it’s probably not your smile, but there are some tools you can pull out to find yourself turning left on British Airways flights more than your neighbor. We’ve covered general upgrade tips for all passengers, but there are a few unique elements to British Airways that are absolutely worth noting, so without further adieu, here are our best tips and tricks to upgrade on British Airways flights…

seats in an airplane with windows

Look For Oversold Flights, You Can See Exact Numbers

Did you know there are tools online that will show you exactly how many seats in each fare class on a plane are left? It’s true. I use ExpertFlyer to show me exactly how many tickets are left in each fare bucket. For those that don’t know, each cabin has at least 2 selling classes. First is usually F, A or P, Business J, I, C, D, Z, so on, so forth. I will look for cabins that are sold out or near sold out in economy, premium and business. Landing a seat on one of these flights makes you at least 50% more likely to get an upgrade, regardless if you have status, which of course, will help if you do. When it’s sold out, they need to move people to make room. 

a person sitting in a chair with a computer screen

Instantly Confirmable Upgrade Space

You probably wanted to hear something like wink, bring chocolates and say you’re Dame Judy Dench, but you’ll have to settle with something you can actually succeed with. The best practice for those holding some miles, is to book flights that can be upgraded instantly. Before buying your flight, look to see if there’s space in business class. If there is, you’ll be able to lock in the upgrade at the time of booking, risk free.

an old woman in a hat and hat in front of stacks of gold bars

$400 AARP Discount, Even For UK Passengers

AARP is an organization in the US that creates benefits for its members that pay between $12.50-$16.00 per year. It’s a steal and on every flight originating the US, you can take $400 off the price of business class. If you plan to travel more than once, I highly recommend using a one way flight to position yourself for your future travels, so that you can find a great business deal and take a further $400 off. We paid $686 round trip this year stacking an AARP discount and 30,000 Avios to take a further $764 off our tickets. So for example, if you’re in the UK and will come to the US twice this year, book a one way to the US, book a round trip from US to UK and then bookend it with another one way to end it, or another round trip to keep it going. $400 is serious cash towards a discount business fare…

a screen shot of a phone

AwardNexus And ExpertFlyer

Sure, you’ll need miles to upgrade, but I really believe that anyone on earth can earn enough for a one way upgrade in a couple of months, without even flying. With that in mind, everyone wants the upgrade and only a select few will get them. If there isn’t space available when you book, it may very well and most likely will open up before your flight. Expert Flyer and Award Nexus allow you to set alerts for when upgrades become available on any flight. The moment British Airways opens up space on your flight, you’ll be notified and can beat the rush, who probably just casually check every few days or weeks. 

a label on a bottle

Chocolates, Champers And Smiles

I’m sorry, but if I can make the world a happier place AND get people the occasional upgrade, I’m going to write about it. Sure, airlines may not have as many discretionary upgrades as they once did, but you better believe that if someone could get a bump, it’s going to be the kind person who said these are for you, thanks for making it a great travel day. Don’t ask, don’t be pesky, just give them to your check in agent and whoever welcomes you on the plane. Crazy stuff happens. You’ll have to trust me on that one…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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