Act the part
Want to fly first class? Be a first-class act. A smile and a kind word go a long way toward landing an upgrade, says former flight attendant Carolyn Paddock, who is now founder and CEO of the website Life in Flight. "Be nice to everybody from the moment you walk on airport property," Paddock says. "You're talking to people who are decision-makers."
John DiScala, editor in chief of travel website JohnnyJet.com, agrees. "I'm amazed at how poorly (travelers) treat gate agents and flight attendants."
DiScala, who visits about 20 countries each year, sweetens the pot -- literally. "Every time I fly, I bring a box of chocolates," usually given to a gate agent or a superintendent.
Upgrades are sometimes a case of "who you know," DiScala says. If a gate agent recognizes you, the chance of an upgrade takes off, DiScala says. So get to know one or two. "A gate agent can do anything," he says.
If it doesn't happen before you board, then be a good sport about being in coach, says Paddock. Your upgrade request to harried flight attendants preparing for takeoff will be "the biggest turnoff ever."