What if there was a way to get into first class without any cunning plan or bribes? Well there is a little-known fact that could get you a seat up the pointy end of the plane if you're lucky.

The author of travel hack guide Kiss my baggage fees: How to be a savvy travel hacker, Rick Brown, took to a Quora form to spill the beans on the unknown rule.

"If your seat is broken, you can request a new seat," he said.

"If one is not available in economy, they have to put you in first."

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The website Life Hacker has also confirmed the claim.

If economy is full, it could mean getting an instant upgrade to business or first class. Photo / 123RF
If economy is full, it could mean getting an instant upgrade to business or first class. Photo / 123RF

"I've been on several packed flights where passengers had broken coach seats and were reassigned to business or first since they were the only seats left."

But before you try and be too clever, definitely do not try and break your seat to get an upgrade.

"Don't break your seat on purpose, it's a crime," Mr Brown warned.

So there you go, it pays to be observant and speak up.