Who doesn’t want a free upgrade when flying off on holiday? Think of those wider seats, the extra legroom, more entertainment channels, better food – perhaps even a glass of Champagne. All that and the smug feeling that you’re got a bit of luxury for nothing. Free upgrades aren’t easy, but they’re worth getting and there are a few ways to try to ensure that you turn left into business class when getting on the plane.

Want a free upgrade? It’s possible if you know how….

First and easiest is to dress the part. Think semi-formal party, not over the top. Save the lived-in sweatpants for the flight and make sure you’re carrying smart-looking baggage too. That achieved, your first step is simply to ask at the airline counter when you check in.

Make sure you’re early. Efficient goes along with smart. Behave like a business class passenger, in short. Always remember a smile goes a long way. We should say that many airlines say they don’t give upgrades at check-in anymore. It’s worth trying, particularly if you’re a regular passenger and so can demonstrate loyalty. You’ve really nothing to lose by asking.

It certainly helps if you’re travelling alone, some frequent flyers say. If there are one or two extra seats in business class and an over-crowded economy cabin, solo travellers are judged to be more likely to be offered an upgrade first, particularly if not yet wearing those sweatpants.

You might also to choose to travel at a busy time, on a busy holiday route. It’s a high risk strategy, but if you’re committed to that upgrade, you might think it a risk worth taking. Just think of that extra legroom … .

The thinking on this one is that with holiday-makers filling the economy cabin, the business seats upfront might be empty, just waiting for you to ask to be moved into them. The danger is obvious. You end up, smartly dressed, in an over-crowded economy cabin when you could have flown at a quieter time.

Once aboard and in your economy seat, all is still not lost. Closely examine all of the entertainment facilities and make sure that everything is working as it should. Is there a fault with your seat at all? The tray in front of you? If there is, call a steward and point it out, calmly and clearly. Once again, the thinking is, given there’s business accommodation just waiting and you’re smartly dressed, you might get the nod to move upfront if you ask for another seat.

There’s no guaranteed way of getting an upgrade. We’d say the key is not to take it too seriously and have a bit of fun into the bargain. At worst, it’s been a bit of a game. At best, you’re sipping that Champagne and stretching out your feet.