The interesting thing about travel is that the “getting there” part of the journey can often be as important to get right as the actual vacation itself. The onboard standards for airlines have dramatically increased in recent years, in response to passenger feedback about the inconvenience of budget travel. Airline companies spend huge amounts of money each year trying to come up with ingenious ways to help their passengers feel as comfortable as possible when booking low-cost trips, but even so, the onboard quality will never compare to the luxury standards of business and first-class travel.

But with business and first-class lounges often costing thousands more per ticket than regular coach, there must be a more pocket-friendly way to travel in style? It doesn’t matter if you’re flying to New York or Nashville, for some lucky individuals, they might be selected for a free upgrade. But what are the best ways to go about getting the coveted invite?

Book Strategically

Airlines tend to upgrade solo travelers before couples and groups. Certain times of the year –during school breaks, for example – are busier with families on vacation and this is when airlines tend to overbook (therefore causing them to have to situate passengers in the business class areas). If you’re flying by yourself, you’ll have a much higher chance of being selected to go to the front than a family of four.

Smooth Operator

Without sounding shallow, sometimes looking stylish and well put-together can make a good impression and it doesn’t hurt to turn up looking the part. Airlines with extra seating in first or business class areas may well give preference to those who look like they could ‘fit in’ with the other first-class clientele. Give your next trip to the airport your best James Bond impression, and you might be surprised how well it works in your favor, but don’t be obvious that this is what you’re trying to do. Genuine giveaways about a person’s status, such as a classy wristwatch or a luxury pen on display in the shirt pocket are often subtle indicators of status. Regarding the latter, a quality writing instrument from Montblanc is the gold standard in pens and these are sure to get you noticed standing in line.

Ask Nicely!

Crazy but true! If you don’t ask you don’t get. It’s worth a shot to pop the question if you’ve followed the rules above. The trick is in the way you approach it. As politely and non-demanding as possible, with a genuine reason to appeal: your birthday (remember they can check your passport), a promotion, an anniversary or any other cause to celebrate you can think of. Furthermore, if you get to your seat and things aren’t as expected (faulty equipment or a rowdy neighbor), you can always ask to be relocated. For your own health and safety, it’s an airline’s duty to relocate you. If you ask nicely enough it might even lead to a better seat than you paid for!