That Time I Was Upgraded to Business Class on Emirates

On my flight to Australia with Emirates, I got upgraded to Business Class! Yep I got a free upgrade and I even did a little dance in my seat. For 7 hours I was the happiest girl alive…it’s a shame I was flying Economy on the way back!

How to Get Upgraded to Business

Apart from accumulating air miles or actually buying a ticket, it’s really just all luck getting upgraded to Business Class on a long-haul flight. I remember once I was flying home from Bangkok on Etihad and it was my 21st birthday that day, so I tried to flutter my eyelids and get a free upgrade, but was unsuccessful.

This time, I was flying from Manchester to Brisbane with Emirates. My first sector was from Manchester to Dubai on the massive A380 superjumbo, and my second sector was from Dubai to Brisbane, except what I didn’t realise is that the flight makes a quick stop in Singapore on the way.

When we landed in Singapore I thought we would be able to stay on the aircraft, but we were all ordered to get off, presumably so they could clean the cabin for the new passengers joining us from Singapore. We were told we had about 30 minutes before we could board the aircraft again, so I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and freshen up.

I returned to the gate but I was near the back of the queue, and when I finally presented my boarding card, the lady said; “I’m sorry but I have to move your seat.”

“Is that a window seat?” I replied.

“No, sorry it’s not.”

She scribbled out my seat number, and changed it to 6E. Now I naturally assumed that this was situated in the first few rows of Economy, and was a bit peeved that I wouldn’t be able to rest my head against the window.

Little did I know that I’d soon be curled up on a lie-flat bed with a glass of champagne.

When I boarded the aircraft, instead of pointing me to the right like the cabin crew usually do, they pointed me to the left!

All I could think was that there must be some sort of mistake. This was Business Class!

As it turned out, there was no mistake. Economy was overbooked and a few of us had been bumped up to the Business Class cabin. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, and I felt like I had gatecrashed a very expensive party.

The Emirates Business Class Experience

There were three of us in a row who had all been upgraded, so we soon started snapping photos of each other and frantically texting everyone in our phone books about the exciting news.

I’ve only ever flown Economy, and I can see why they say it’s hard to go back to Economy once you’ve had a taste of Business Class.

As soon as I sat down I was offered a glass of champagne, and I started playing with all the functions in my seat. I turned the massage function on, pressed a few buttons on the remote to see what they would do, put my belongings into the storage space down the side and plugged my phone into the plug socket.

Champagne in Business Class

I was sat on the front row between two other seats, and I had heaps of legroom. The remote control for the entertainment system was about the size of the TV screens in Economy, and I was given a noise cancelling headset which really blocks out the cabin noise when you’re watching a movie. The flight attendant also handed out amenity kits containing BVLGARI perfume, creams and other goodies.

Personal TV Emirates Business Class

Emirates Noise Cancelling Headset

Emirates Amenity Kit

As soon as the flight took off I used the buttons to recline my seat a bit, and a member of cabin crew came around to take our drinks orders. As I sat there with a martini and some nibbles, for the first time I was feeling pretty ecstatic about taking a long-haul flight. I don’t mind flying, in fact I really enjoy it sometimes, but the journey to Australia is SO long.

Instead of eating food from plastic cartons on a tiny meal tray, I had a huge table laid with linen, proper silverware, cute little salt and pepper shakers and a large glass of white wine. To start I had some yummy tiger prawns, an artichoke salad and some warm bread with oil and balsamic vinegar. For a main course I had sea bass in a lemon sauce with new potatoes, and then for dessert I had a selection of little desserts with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Starters Emirates Business Class

Desserts on Emirates Business Class

After that I was pretty tipsy by this point, so I put my seat into the flat bed position and had the best sleep I’ve ever had on a flight. By the time I woke up I had just enough time to watch the first half of “Chasing Madoff” and then it was pretty much time for landing.

My Business Class upgrade with Emirates even meant that I was able to fast-track through the Customs and quarantine area when I landed in Brisbane Airport.  They’re really funny with bringing food into Australia, so there’s usually quite a rigmarole having to have your bags scanned on the way in.

One thing’s for sure, I definitely arrived in Australia with a big grin on my face. So the moral of the story? Be late boarding the plane when the flight is oversold and you may get bumped to Business Class 🙂

Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

  • AlexBerger
    Posted at 17:29h, 28 February Reply

    Wait, there’s a massage function? Oh good lord. I’m jealous!

  • Leif
    Posted at 20:33h, 28 February Reply

    Thats fantastic!

  • D.J. - The World of Deej
    Posted at 22:51h, 28 February Reply

    That is awesome! I scored first class with a buddy from Atlanta to Amsterdam once. I kept thinking there was a mistake and we’d be moved. As we taxied for takeoff, the flight attendant approached and said “Gentlemen we have a problem…” here we go…”The plane is overweight and we need you to drink as much alcohol as possible so we can land in Amsterdam”…Score!

  • Dave
    Posted at 21:40h, 02 March Reply

    nice one – I remember the first time I got upgraded, I didn’t realise the booze was free. They kept offering me champagne and I refused as thought it would cost a fortune 🙂

  • Monica
    Posted at 15:59h, 05 March Reply

    Very nice. Looks lovely. I went to Jamaica with a friend a few years ago and found it hilarious when a huge, fat woman sat next to her. She was so fat she was spilling into my friend’s seat so my friend told the air hostess and got upgraded! I wasn’t laughing when I was stuck at the back while my friend was sipping champagne! Always worth giving it a go.

  • Cynic
    Posted at 02:21h, 01 November Reply

    Just luck that I was upgraded… bollocks to that!

    It’s because you are blond and female you dumbass….

    • Victoria
      Posted at 02:29h, 01 November Reply

      Cynic, this was actually not the case. I wasn’t the only person upgraded on this flight. Several other people were upgraded, including a male from Singapore who was studying in New Zealand, and a brunette female, who was also flying to New Zealand. So it wasn’t just ‘blonde females’ who were upgraded.

  • Marina
    Posted at 18:42h, 27 December Reply

    Once I got a promotional upgrade from Eco to Business but when I checked in they apologized that the Business class was fully booked and I thought ufff now back to ECO while watching the lady putting a sticker FIRST on my bag and I could not believe my luck!!!! Instead in in Business I landed in FIRST class on the Emirates flight from HAM to DXB WOW!!!! This was the best experience ever. You have your own bar in your own “room” with 3 windows just for you with a huge monitor and so many channels and movies that till you went through you reached Dubai…

    • Frederick
      Posted at 09:23h, 14 January Reply

      100% agreefirst class travel with Emirates is the cherry on the cake. I have and will always use this carrier to Oz,so looking forward to 4th Feb 17 to Perth via dubai,in my own personal cabin and excellent service. They make my trips a wonderful part of my holiday never anything to much trouble for their staff to ensure you have a wonderful relaxed trip. Well done Emirates you have obviously taken on board what other so called top carrier’s fail and right their wrong’s,before any problems arise. Well done

      Well wisher

  • Chris
    Posted at 15:31h, 10 May Reply

    Very jealous! Emirates flights are fantastic as they are so I am jealous of a business class experience. On my way home I think I’ll stay at the back of the gate queue to see if that improves my chances!

  • Miranda
    Posted at 11:01h, 10 December Reply

    This happened to me too on my return leg from Dubai to Cape Town, though the Business Class seat on my flight was not nearly as comfy as I can see in your photographs – yours looks more like First Class! I suppose it depends on the class of jet you’re travelling on as well.
    It truly was a wonderful surprise to be randomly upgraded like that. It made the prospect of travelling alone so much more enjoyable.
    LOVE Emirates for this and will always choose to fly with them.

  • Gowri
    Posted at 11:51h, 14 May Reply

    This happened to me on my return from Dubai to Trivandrum on May 12th 2014.The checkin agent actually handed me the boarding pass in economy.But then I asked for a two seater as I had my daughter with me.Then he made me wait for 10 minutes as he made some phone calls.I was actually getting me pissed off.Then he handed me boarding pass for 8J and 8K.I thought they are seats in economy.As I boarded the flight and walked to economy through business, a flight attendent told me that I passed my seats.I looked at him unbelievably and told him that I thought that I was flying economy.Then the magical words, You have been upgraded to business today.I was delighted and the journey was awesome..full bed and large screens .Bt the food was same as in economy.But a dream come true…..

  • Alison
    Posted at 17:04h, 05 September Reply

    We got randomly upgraded from Sydney to Dubai, not sure why, what a treat it was, being able to tilt the seats further back or flat made the journey so much better, can’t say I slept a great deal but better than I would have done in Economy.

    The next part of the journey was to Glasgow on an old plane, the entertainment system was awful, the food rubbish and so cramped, boy did we miss the Business Class Seats – not sure if they did that deliberately to encourage us to purchase “BC” next time, it certainly got us thinking about it.

  • The Guy
    Posted at 13:40h, 12 December Reply

    Great to hear of your upgrade story.

    I must admit that Emirates are quite good at giving out complimentary upgrades. I’ve experienced it along with some people I know. Once I was upgraded to First Class!!!!

    I think your case was helped with how far you were travelling. Clearly going such a long distance means your ticket has cost more than those just joining in Singapore. Also if you fly with them quite often they recognise this when selecting someone for upgrades.

    By the way, asking for a complimentary upgrade is not a good idea. It just gets the back up of the airline crew and shoots yourself in the foot.

    I also hate the fact you have to get off and back onto the plane. It happens more and more often nowadays and can really disrupt your chance to sleep through on a long flight.

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