There's nothing better than an upgrade.
That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven't paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.
While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.
But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.
Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.
Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: "Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first."
Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: "If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline — or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket — benefitting."
2. Check for breakages
It's not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.
On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark.
3. Fly outside of commuter times
Regular business travellers tend to get preference over casual holiday-goers in the Battle For An Upgrade. They've got the air miles, they know the airport staff and they look the part.
To give yourself a fighting chance book flights that laptop Larrys are less likely to be on. Think midday, midweek and on weekends, not early mornings or late afternoons.
Will this little one be quite so adorable when upset/fractious and it's the middle of the night? Photo / Getty Images
4. Sit near a baby
Not that you have much control over this, but if the worst happens and you find yourself sitting next to a bawling child ask to move. You might get a worse seat near the loo or you might strike First Class gold. At the very least you'll probably get a complimentary drink to drown your sorrows.
5. Arrive early or late
The early bird catches the worm. Skyscanner's James Teideman has seen it pay to be prompt to check-in.
"If passengers need to be moved between cabins for operational reasons, the airline will probably know this several hours before the flight. So if you're among the first few passengers to check-in, you have a higher chance of being chosen.
Likewise, closer to the end of check-in, airlines might be faced with overbooking if more passengers have turned up than they were expecting."
6. Fly solo
Sometimes it pays to leave friends and family behind. Katherine Clark advises travelling by yourself.
"It's much easier to upgrade a single passenger up to business class than a family of four."
It seems you're going to have to look the part to get a first class upgrade. Photo / Thinkstock
7. Dress for success
While experts agree that looking like an investment banker or Hollywood film star doesn't help as much as it used to, tracksuits and torn jeans certainly won't further your cause.
Airlines want first and business class to look a league above, so make sure you do too. Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket.com advises sticking to the "smart casual" code and that "a cashmere shawl or linen jacket can make all the difference".
8. Just ask
It's an obvious point but asking politely at the check-in desk is often enough. Katherine Clark says: "If you don't ask you don't get and with more people checking in online there are less people asking the question, 'Is the flight full?' If they can't give you a free upgrade, they might give you a heavily reduced one."
Bob Atkinson adds: "It can make all the difference if you remember your Ps and Qs with a smile on your face."
9. Use air miles
You'll need to do some research as the small print differs wildly between various airlines and alliances as to when and how you can exchange points for a luxury ride, but substituting collated air miles for the smell of first class can be points well spent.
10. Break your leg
Nearly two thirds of airline staff in a Skyscanner survey revealed that a passenger with a broken limb was more likely to get the premium experience for free.
While it's certainly not worth breaking your leg before you travel, letting cabin crew know about your injuries and ailments might just win you their sympathy.
11. Discount deals
Keep an eye on your email and sign up to airline groups and schemes. They often send out messages alerting members of upgrade availability.
Ireland's Aer Lingus gives you the chance to bid for an upgrade. You request an email from them before travelling, enter an amount you're willing to pay and then wait to hear if you've made the cut.
12. Fly on your birthday
You can't fake it. As you flash flight attendants your passport they may take pity on you and give you the present you so long for.
13. Make a song and dance
If you've got a good horror story about getting to the airport, had a security hassle, suffered poor service or just some plain bad luck — share it with the attendant or check-in desk and they might want to improve your day.
If you're on your honeymoon or it's a big anniversary it's worth a mention too, but only if it really is. Check-in staff and air stewards are old hands at spotting fakers.
14. Volunteer to switch
If your flight is overbooked, instead of causing a scene, offer to switch flights. It's a long shot but so long as it doesn't inconvenience you, there's a chance they'll be so grateful that your chivalry and generosity will be rewarded.
15. Be generous
If all else fails perhaps there is a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or box of Milk Tray in your suitcase which pushes you over the luggage limit that the check-in attendant might like to take off your hands.