Will you get the ‘upgrade face’ with an flight upgrade?

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Most passengers hope for a flight upgrade as they wait to check-in at the airport, but is there an easier way? Virgin Atlantic seem to think so but it’s not down to what you wear and there is no luck involved.

First though what does a flight upgrade feel like?

Not many of us have been lucky enough to get an upgrade so Virgin Atlantic  have shown us what it is like. The airline recently staged a social experiment at Heathrow Airport where unsuspecting passengers were given surprise upgrades. The mesmerizing results were recorded in super slow motion and captured the exact moment of shock, excitement, joy and even tears when holidaymakers realised they’d got a treat to start their journey.

Roger and Linda Johnson reaction to earning a Virgin Atlantic upgrade

How to try and get a Flight Upgrade

New research has revealed the most popular methods for trying to blag an upgrade. Dressing smartly (38%), arriving extra early (36%) and flirting with check-in staff (35%) are the most popular ways passengers try to get a better seat. But many more are willing to go the extra mile, with one in five pretending to have just got married, one in twenty claiming to be a journalist and a minority even attempting to bribe check-in attendants.

Furthermore, a third of passengers (32%) would happily ditch meeting the man or woman of their dreams abroad in favour of a surprise cabin upgrade – and agree that getting the proper posh upgrade treatment is the best thing that could happen on a holiday.
Julie Challenger, who has worked for Virgin Atlantic at London Heathrow for 15 years, recounts some of more unusual tales passengers have told ground staff to secure an upgrade

  • The arguing couple – One gentleman requested an upgrade so he wouldn’t have to sit next to his wife.
  • The broken-hearted – A young man hoped an upgrade would mend his broken heart after being dumped on his birthday.
  • The tired father – A father travelling with his family wanted to be upgraded as his baby was teething and he wanted a good sleep. Needless to say his wife wasn’t impressed
  • The impatient traveller – One lady asked for an upgrade as she wanted to get to her destination quicker
  • The trickster – A very famous magician offered to perform magic tricks for the crew in return for an upgrade
  • The overachiever – A businessman asked for an upgrade as he was in Economy but his boss was in Premium, he wanted an upgrade to Upper Class so he could wave at his boss from the bar
  • The fantasist – One gentleman requested an upgrade so he could try out the onboard hot tub
  • The entrepreneur – One businessman requested an upgrade so he could meet Richard Branson and pitch an idea to him on board

How to get a Flight Upgrade

Virgin Atlantic has revealed the simple way to get an upgrade– and it’s easier than you think. It’s time to forget about what you’re wearing, how eloquent you are or whether your mum’s mate’s brother once met Sir Richard Branson. Instead, the airline points to the new Reward Credit Card that allows members to choose from upgrades and free companion seats based on spending.

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Money have come together to launch the new credit card products exclusively with Mastercard. Customers can choose from either the Virgin Atlantic Reward or Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Cards that enable customers to earn Flying Club miles when using the card, which can be exchanged for the full range of Flying Club rewards including flights and cabin upgrades.

Oliver Byers, SVP of Sales and Customer Loyalty at Virgin Atlantic, commented: “From the weird to the wonderful, our check-in desk attendants have heard it all. Our loyal customers deserve rewards and what better way to do that than to kick start their journey with an upgrade. Although we love to hear them, there is no need for extravagant excuses anymore; our credit card holders are likely to experience that ‘Upgrade Face’ feeling sometime soon.”

Giselle Garcia reaction to earning a Virgin Atlantic flight upgrade

Ewan Taylor, director of the social experiment, commented: “By using hyper slow-motion cameras, we were able to secretly record the precise moment passengers realise they’ve been upgraded. We call it “Upgrade Face” and it’s a mixture of surprise, joy and disbelief. But I don’t think people should wait to be secretly filmed by our camera crew, I’m sure getting a Virgin Atlantic Credit Card is an easier way to get an upgrade.”

If you would like to try an easier way of getting a flight upgrade check out the benefits of the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card.


Card Annual fee Balance transfer period Balance transfer fee Money transfer period Money transfer fee Purchase rate Representative APR (variable)
Virgin Atlantic Reward n/a 0% for 6 months 3.00% 0% for 6 months 3.00% 22.9% p.a. 22.9%
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ £160 0% for 6 months 3.00% 0% for 6 months 3.00% 22.9% p.a. 63.9%
·        Promotional interest periods and fees will apply to any balance or money transfers within 60 days of account opening.

·        Promotional rates will no longer apply from the beginning of any statement period during which a customer has breached their terms, for example if they haven’t paid on time or have gone over their credit limit.

·        Balances can be transferred from all credit cards other than existing Virgin Money cards.

·        Representative example based on a credit limit of £1,200.









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