Flight upgrades are a great way to make a long plane ride more comfortable. But how do you get one?

Being a frequent flyer with elite status and booking directly with the airline can help. But other things can boost your odds, too. TikTok star Kat Kamalani, who makes viral travel videos, tells T+L that being nice to gate agents is key.

Be on time

Airlines only have a limited number of seats in first and business class, so if you’re a high-miles/points flyer and you check in early, you’re more likely to get upgraded. You can also purchase upgrades using frequent flyer miles or even credit card points you’ve accumulated through your everyday spending. This is a great option for those without elite status who want to fly in premium class.

Many airlines establish an upgrade wait list for a flight, and give priority to those who check-in online. Especially if the airline is overbooked, you’re more likely to be offered an upgrade if you are one of the first people to check in. It’s also a good idea to arrive at the airport early, even if you can’t check in online, to ensure that you’re among the first people to board.

If you’re assigned an uncomfortable seat, or a seat with poor recline or entertainment system, politely ask to be moved. However, you need to have an authentic reason (i.e., your legs are longer than Naomi Campbell’s or you have a UTI and need to make multiple trips to the bathroom). If you can prove that you really need to be moved, your chances of getting upgraded to first or business class are much higher.

If you have an elite status member traveling with you, it’s possible they may be able to use their upgrade certificate at the gate and upgrade you for free. This isn’t always possible, but it’s worth a shot.

Be friendly

While frequent flyer status and buying tickets in advance are key, being friendly with airline staff also helps. They deal with a lot of passengers, some of whom are rude or demanding, so being polite and courteous is one way to stand out. If you greet them with a smile and say please and thank you, they’ll be more likely to go out of their way to help you.

Airline staff may not be able to upgrade you, but they can help you snag an exit row or premium economy seat for a lower price than first class. For example, some airlines sell premium economy upgrades at a discount through their websites or travel agents. And some tour operators offer these seats as part of a package.

In addition, many airlines allow you to use your miles to upgrade to a business or first-class seat. But it’s important to note that each airline handles mileage upgrades a bit differently, and they can be subject to space availability. And remember, if you’re travelling with someone who has elite status, they can often help you secure an upgrade for free.

Finally, be sure to purchase your ticket well in advance, as this can increase your chances of getting an upgrade. It’s also helpful to buy your ticket with the airline directly rather than through a third party like a travel agent or tour operator. Airlines tend to favour travellers who book directly and will be more likely to reward you with an upgrade.

Don’t be too demanding

An airline upgrade can be a luxurious way to travel. You get extra legroom, better reclining, and a more comfortable seat. You also get a higher level of service from flight attendants who can offer you food and drinks to suit your tastes. However, upgrading to first class can be expensive. Gary discusses American Airlines decision here to drop humanitarian fares.

If you’re not a frequent flyer, you may not have much hope of getting an upgrade on a domestic flight without paying the full fare. However, you can try to improve your chances by following some tips. For example, you should dress professionally and be polite to the agents at the gate. Also, make sure to check in early. Airlines sometimes need to move people around if they’re overbooked, so the earlier you can get there, the better.

The best way to get an airline upgrade is to join the loyalty program. Many airlines give priority to loyalty program members when it comes to upgrades. This is especially true if the flight is oversold and the airline needs to bump someone up. Additionally, you can use your miles to upgrade your ticket if you want to save on the cost of an upgraded ticket.

But even if you’re not a frequent flyer, it’s possible to upgrade your seat for free on some flights. You just have to be prepared to do some work and have some luck. By following these tips, you can maximize your chances of securing that first class upgrade. Just be sure to keep in mind that the airline isn’t obligated to upgrade you, and you should still be willing to pay for an economy ticket if you don’t have elite status.

Don’t be too rude

Despite the fact that they’re on a plane, airline crew members are still human. And a good rule of thumb is to be as respectful as possible. After all, you wouldn’t want to sit next to a loud, rude person wearing sweatpants and a torn T-shirt, would you? So, if someone’s acting up on the plane, don’t just ignore them. Instead, try to speak with them directly and politely if you can.

Also, avoid rude gestures like whistling or snapping your fingers, which can be quite offensive. And don’t touch flight attendants on the arm or shoulder. While a gentle tug on the sleeve or elbow can be ok, most flight attendants prefer not to be touched at all.

Other passenger behaviors that irk flight attendants include spreading out in their seat, playing videos loudly on their phone or tablet, eating messy and smelly foods (like tuna sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs), and even brushing their hair on board. “In a small space, those pungent odors can spread in seconds,” says Gottsman. “People also don’t want to share personal hygiene items.”

Another pet peeve: those who press the recline button once the plane reaches cruising altitude. This can cause your seat mate to lose their leg room, and it’s just plain rude.

Finally, never yell or insult a flight attendant. This can ruin the experience for everyone on the plane, including you. It’s also likely to make them less willing to treat you better on future flights. Instead, if your flight is delayed or if your schedule changes, kindly but firmly let the gate agents know that you’d appreciate an upgrade if one becomes available on a later flight.

Be flexible

A flight upgrade to First Class can be a luxurious experience. Enjoy extra legroom, improved reclining and personalised service from attentive flight attendants. It can also be a great way to earn airline and credit card rewards points. If you can be flexible with your travel arrangements, it can be a cost-effective way to enjoy the luxury of premium air travel.

Having top-tier elite status on one airline can increase your chances of an upgrade, because airlines prioritize upgrades for their most loyal customers. Signing up for an airline credit card that offers frequent flyer miles and putting your holiday shopping through airline shopping portals can also earn you upgrades. Finally, buying your ticket directly from the airline instead of through a travel agent or tour operator can improve your chances.

Being more flexible with your flight options can also improve your chances of an upgrade. Avoid flying during peak seasons and dates for family travel, and choose flights that aren’t full of families.

If a flight is overbooked, airlines will often ask for volunteers to be bumped from economy to business or first class. Those who are travelling alone will be prioritised for this as it typically costs the airline less than upgrading two people. It is also worth asking at the check-in counter or gate agents if you have any chance of an upgrade – they may surprise you! Just make sure you have your loyalty card and boarding pass ready, as you’ll likely need to show them.