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I’m a former American Airlines flight attendant — this is the best time to ask for a seat upgrade

Flight attendants unveiled that passengers who want to upgrade their seats should submit their request at the boarding door as soon as possible.
Flight attendants unveiled that passengers who want to upgrade their seats should submit their request at the boarding door as soon as possible.

Timing is everything, especially if you want a good seat.

Flight attendants revealed that passengers who want to upgrade their seats should submit their request at the boarding door as soon as possible.

“You should ask prior to door closure, but don’t be surprised if they don’t move you until after you’re in the air if they’re going to grant your request,” Bobby Laurie, former American Airlines flight attendant, told Travel + Leisure regarding seat changes.

Your seat request has a higher chance of being fulfilled if you pay for the upgrade or are a frequent flyer with elite status. pressmaster – stock.adobe.com
Your seat request has a higher chance of being fulfilled if you pay for the upgrade or are a frequent flyer with elite status. pressmaster – stock.adobe.com

Passengers can submit an upgrade request between the booking and boarding process, but throwing down some cash or being a frequent flyer with elite status can increase their chances of getting what they want.

As boarding time approaches, flight attendants can see if passengers who booked business or first-class seats either missed their connecting flight or canceled their trip, allowing other travelers to fly in more comfortable seats.

If the request is fulfilled, a flight attendant will bump the passenger up a few rows, but despite what other travel hack experts may say, there is no guarantee they’ll go from basic economy to first class unless they pay for it.

If a passenger notices an empty seat, they should ask the flight attendant if they can switch. standret – stock.adobe.com
If a passenger notices an empty seat, they should ask the flight attendant if they can switch. standret – stock.adobe.com

“I heard stories from people about how they got upgraded to business or first class based on their looks or how they were dressed. This simply never happened at the major airline where I worked,” Susan Fogwell, a former flight attendant, told Travel + Leisure.

“If a flight attendant moved a passenger from one class to another, the flight attendant would not have a job for long. The difference in price is in the thousands, depending on the route.”

Fogwell advised that people should consider waiting until they board the plane and spot an empty seat.

“While sitting in a cramped middle seat or squeezed in at a window seat, a passenger observes an empty economy plus seat and will ask if they can change seats,” she explained.

“Standard procedure is to wait until the door closes to see if everybody shows up for the flight. If the seat is available, the passenger pays for the upgrade on the flight,” Fogwell added.

In a report previously reported by The Post, former flight attendant Cierra Mistt revealed that passengers can increase their chances of getting bumped up to first-class seats for free by booking their ticket in the last row of the plane.

“If you wanna fly first class and not have to pay for it. I highly suggest that you choose sitting in the last row because if we do have to move people for weight and balance purpose, that’s where the flight attendant is going to go,” Mistt said in a viral clip.