How to Get Free Flight Upgrades [Photos]


Traveler's Toolbox  

Credit: Yoshi Aka
Credit: Yoshi Aka

Convincing an airline employee to give you an upgrade may seem difficult, but a few simple tricks can greatly improve your chance of success. The problem with making this kind of request is that people will often speak words that they  think will encourage the employee to say “yes,” while their body is actually telling the person to say “no.”  Body language expert Mark Bowden of TruthPlane, Inc. says that you need to use non-verbal clues, like cavemen did before spoken language, to get a postive response.

Sound far-fetched? It’s not. Mark Bowden is an internationally-recognized gesture genius, keynote speaker, and founder of TruthPlane, Inc. He has trained the CEOs of Fortune 50 companies and G8 leaders. He gave Flight Network the exclusive lowdown on you can use body language to subconsciously encourage airline employees to say “yes” when you ask for an upgrade. If you can master eight simple techniques, he says, you’ll be well on your way to premium meals, free drinks, and luxurious leg room.

Watch the Video Demonstration Here

Get free flight upgrades Cro-Magnon Crinkle A Fake Smile Will Make You Seem Dishonest

A smile is perceived as fake unless you show the wrinkles around your eyes, says Mark.  A smile without wrinkles might even seem predatorial!  Improve your smile with the Cro-Magnon Crinkle and people will know your intentions are genuine.





Get free flight upgrades Lizard Lift An Inquisitive Look Can Get You Perks

By slightly raising your eyebrows (the Lizard Lift), you will be viewed as an approachable person.  It translates across all cultures as a facial expression showing recognition.  Try pleasantly saying to the flight attendant, “Hey, do I see beer back there?”  Friendliness always wins courtesy in return (the concept of “reciprocity,” according to Mark) – if not a free drink.




Get free flight upgrades Paleolithic Pal Open Wide and Say “Aaah think you’re doing a great job.”

When meeting the upgrade “gatekeepers” (e.g. agent at the check-in desk or gate, or the flight attendant) the Paleolithic Pal comes in handy.  By opening your arms in a welcoming way, you show others you mean no harm.  The smile is a great addition.





Get free flight upgrades Fossil Face Anger Gets You Nowhere

This one’s a big “don’t”:  No matter how upset you are about a flight delay, avoid aggressive stances and unpleasant expressions like The Fossil Face.  Even if you say kind words, leaning forward will irritate the person behind the desk.





Get free flight upgrades Natty Neanderthal Do the Tribal Dance – Make Yourself Appealing to Anyone You Meet

Mark says if you can associate with other people’s “tribes,” they’ll want to cooperate with you.  By creating a varied look (Natty Neanderthal)that includes aspects of different tribes’ looks (e.g. arm tatoo and a short-sleeve button down shirt with khakis) you’ll be welcomed by different groups:  Red socks indicate a sense of humour, a suit denotes professionalism, long hair means you’re a bit rebellious.  Find your travel look – without appearing to wear a costume!


Watch the Video Demonstration Here

About the Author: Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson is the Let's Roll blog manager. He also writes for the Huffington Post,, and his own adventure travel blog.

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