The flight attendant in question, Cierra Mistt, clues us in.
“One way to get a free upgrade is literally just being nice to your gate agent and flight attendant. The miracles we can work when we’re given some Starbucks and a bag of chocolates.” According to Mistt, flight attendants frequently have back-to-back flights where they are seldom able to take breaks. A considerate gesture can do a lot to get you that first-class upgrade.
Another one of Mistt’s hacks is to select a seat as far back as possible. Mistt says that planes are usually “tail-heavy” and sometimes weight needs to be reassigned to ensure that the plane is properly balanced for flight. As such, if flyers need to be reassigned to balance the plane they’ll be brought from the back of the plane to the front, which would be first-class.
The third method is not foolproof but it has a chance of getting you that first-class upgrade. Mistt recommends using recent airline chaos due to increased demand and understaffing to your advantage. “The majority of airlines are booking every single flight that they have,” she explains this leads to overbooking. “If everyone does show up… the airlines have no choice but to financially compensate.”