How to Get a Business Class Upgrade on Emirates


As travelers, we want to experience everything that comes with it as a package – cheap tickets, beautiful destinations, and adventurous culinary tours. Back in the day, I took a flight once every 6 months, sometimes even twice to visit family and friends and I thought that was it – it’s the destination that matters. I was wrong.

Our little fairy tale vacation begins right when we start looking for flight information followed by airport check-ins and immigration. And sometimes this whole process is so stressful that you just want to get things done quickly to settle in a cosy little window seat waiting for take off.

“Yes, there’s a slight chance you could get a Business class upgrade,” I hear a masculine voice from the counter at the check-in during my recent flight to Dubai on Emirates.

“Wow, really?” I hadn’t been through this before so not knowing how to react, I just smiled and said “Thank you, I’d appreciate that.”

Emirates’s First class cabin is nothing less than spectacular – it’s fancier than luxurious hotels. But even getting an upgrade to Business class is almost like winning a jackpot, and it’s not impossible provided you’re willing to plan ahead of time.

Here are some travel hacks on how to get a Business class upgrade on Emirates.

Sign up for Loyalty Rewards

You don’t have to be a frequent traveler to join the loyalty rewards program. Sometimes agents look into their members list before they upgrade a passenger. The more you fly, the more likely the airline will return your support through an upgrade. So if you’ve been accruing miles by traveling often, redeem them for a bump up.

“The best thing about miles is that it allows us to experience things that would usually be out of our budgets. Nothing beats using miles to have a taste of the good life and actually fly First Class AKA that mythical place in the very front of the plane where most mortals can only imagine flying in,” says Travel blogger Sam Huang, who flew Emirates First class suite without spending a fortune.

Travel Solo

I must confess: I have a soft corner for Emirates. Since I visit Dubai quite often, I’m usually traveling alone. If you’re with a partner, there is a very slim chance you’ll get an upgrade. Having tasted the sweetness of luxurious cabins, yes I would abandon my lovely husband for a little pampering at 40,000 feet.

Fly Late Nights

Most business travelers prefer to take flights during daytime or early mornings, which means there will be enough vacant seats at wee hours. For upgrades, Business travelers tend to get more preference over vacationers since they’ve got the air miles and also look the part. So it’s ideal to avoid them.

Get to the Airport Early

It pays to be at the check-in before the queue. If the airline has plans to move up passengers, the staff will be notified several hours in advance. Personally speaking, I always manage to reach the airport 3 hours before my flight – it’s less stressful, also the fact at some point you’ve to be at the airport anyways – whether it is 1 or 2 hours later – might as well settle in sooner. Right?

Dress Smartly

When a person says dress smartly in connection with business, I figure it’s about pencil skirts sand heels. It doesn’t necessarily have to be. A neat pair of jeans, and a simple blazer will do – it’s about looking stylish yet professionally dressed in par with your fellow business mates.

Ask for an Upgrade

Sometimes all you got to do is request for an upgrade.

“I was wondering if I could get an upgrade, if that’s possible?” I genuinely asked out of curiosity. The gentleman at the check-in counter asked my purpose of visit. He was aware that I travel frequently on Emirates and since I was visiting my parents, he’d check if an upgrade was possible.

Be Kind and Considerate

With the long queues and stress of ensuring all passengers head to the aircraft on time, the staff deserves a bow. While there are plenty of people who’ll be slamming their requests at the counter, it’s our polite nature that can catch the attention of the staff.

Once you request for an upgrade at the check-in, be patient.

At the boarding counter I politely said “The person at the check-in mentioned, as a frequent traveler I could get an upgrade for Business class, could you have a look for me please?”

Play it Cool

Once the staff handed me the boarding pass with handwritten “Business”, I wanted to hug her a million times and invite her home for dinner. But instead I stayed cool and thanked her warmly, while she showed me the way to the cabins.

An upgrade is the ultimate holy grail of air travel that requires research and planning. Until few years ago, I thought scoring an inexpensive plane ticket was the only thing that required a mastermind.

Would you like to add any pointers on how you scored an upgrade in an Airline? Share your comments below. 

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  1. says: Tamar

    Great tips, especially arriving early! I hadn’t thought of that! It’s just the best feeling when they say “you’ve been upgraded.” Plus I’ve heard that Emirates is very fancy so I can imagine how awesome their first class is!

  2. says: Daphne

    I’m always too shy to ask for an upgrade, even with 14 hr + flights, but I already do so many of your tips I might as well give it a shot. Wish me luck and thanks for sharing! (=

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