‘I got a free flight upgrade for a ridiculous reason – but I don’t recommend it’

I think I’ll always be a little bit scared of flying. While I am a very seasoned traveller, jetting off somewhere in Europe whenever I can or heading on bigger trips such as Cuba or even Fiji, I still find the concept of flying very stressful.

It just doesn’t feel natural to me or that it should work, even though all the stats point to the fact it is the safest mode of travel.

The first time I flew by myself was in 2016 when I was 17. My long-distance boyfriend lived in Canada and you can’t exactly get the train there from London so I had no choice but to brave a solo flight.

Without friends or family members there to distract me, I quickly found myself panicking as we started to take off.

I ended up crying like a baby – the actual babies on the flight were in contrast, really well behaved – and despite the efforts of the strangers around me I was pretty inconsolable.

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The man next to me even kindly gave me a KitKat and it was no help at all.

Seeing that I was majorly distressed, a flight attendant came over to me and asked me to come with her.

She weaved me through the aisles and we found ourselves in the airline’s premium class area.

I plopped myself down in one of the plush seats – the surrounding seats were empty – and was told to peruse a menu.

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I wasn’t sure whether I had been given this free upgrade so I felt more comfortable on the plane or so my fellow flyers no longer had to hear me wail at the top of my lungs. It was probably a bit of both, but either way, flying in style was so much fun.

The flight attendants were so attentive and although I still felt afraid, I couldn’t help but enjoy the luxury and lavishness just a little.

While I still am – and probably always will be – a slightly nervous flyer, this won’t ever stop me getting on a plane. However, I no longer cry so it looks like I’ll be seated in economy for the foreseeable.

If you aren’t a nervous flyer (or good at pretending to cry), the Post Office has some guidance on how passengers might be able to secure a free upgrade.

  • Advert-free experience without interruptions.
  • Rocket-fast speedy loading pages.
  • Exclusive & Unlimited access to all our content.

The first piece of advice is to look smart. Although your favourite tracksuit/pyjamas might be cosy, they’re not getting you to the front of the plane.

Asking for an upgrade works some of the time if you catch the right person on a good day, as does mentioning a reason why you might deserve it, such as a recent surgery or bad back problem. Travel solo if you can for even more of a chance at business or first class.

Doing the work beforehand can also work in your favour. Join a frequent flyer scheme and build up your air miles to reach gold or premier status.

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