It is usually not difficult to find an economy flight to almost any destination. However, getting an upgrade to business or first class can be a bit more difficult. Airlines give out upgrades based on availability of seating, type of fare and whether or not you're a frequent flyer. Sometimes upgrades are given out for free. If there is space available, upgrades can usually be had for an increased fare.
Ask nicely. Believe it or not, this often works. If you dress well, show up to your check-in early and ask politely for an upgrade, you just might get one. Earlier is often better because not as many people will have asked for an upgrade yet and the check-in person might be more inclined to give one out for free or for a reduced rate. While it may seem unlikely that free upgrades still happen, travel agents and counter attendants for airlines report that they do.
Join a club. Most airlines have executive or platinum clubs that offer upgrades on purchased tickets. Preference is usually given to those who use frequent-flyer programs. However, there may be a long line of people in the elite club in front of you. Check out your frequent flyer or rewards program in advance. Find out what special conditions or requirements exist for getting an upgrade. You may be able to upgrade yourself online while you sit in the airport waiting for your flight.
Pay for an upgrade at the time you make your reservation or at the self-service check-in at the airport. These are usually discounted at the time of purchase. You can also call your travel agent or the airline directly to make an upgrade. Occasionally, having the travel or ticket agent add an Other Significant Information (OSI) alert on your ticket can help you get an upgrade if room is available. You can have them add information about your status as a CEO, review writer, newlywed or other VIP status.
Investigate your airline or mileage rewards program. You may find that your airline has changed its rules recently about who gets upgrades and how much it will cost you in extra miles and extra cash.
Keep updated. Before you travel, surf travel websites for news of airlines and their new policies. Often, travel news sites will let you know when things are going well for airlines (meaning higher prices for you) or badly for airlines (meaning you might find a better deal).