With the longest flat bed in the business, private onboard bar and state of the art in-flight entertainment, flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic is definitely one of the more glamorous ways to travel. After a recent survey of more than 3,000 of the airline’s cabin crew and ground staff, it is clear that some passengers will stop at nothing when looking to secure a complimentary upgrade to the Upper Class Suite. 

The survey revealed that Sir Richard Branson has a lot of "friends” around the world with many passengers dropping his name when looking for an upgrade.


“Sir Richard Branson is my friend” and “Sir Richard Branson promised me an upgrade” were the two most common reasons yet the survey also found that some passengers could be extremely creative when looking to gain exclusive access to the front of the plane…

Some of the more unusual tales passengers told to secure an upgrade:


  • Manchester United lost today, I am really upset and need the space to get over it 
  • My wife is pregnant; I need an upgrade as it is a really stressful time for me 
  • My newborn baby has claustrophobia, she is in counselling and we really need an upgrade so she has more space 
  • I am Sir Richard Branson’s dentist 
  • I have lost all of my money in Vegas but really need an upgrade
  •  We are getting married today (the couple turned up in full wedding attire) 
  • (At Tokyo check-in) I am a very tall Englishman and need some extra leg room 
  • It’s a Sunday, no one flies on a Sunday so please can I have an upgrade? 


 Paul Dickinson, the airline's director of sales and marketing, said: “With such fantastic Upper Class and Premium Economy cabins it is easy to see why our passengers go to such great lengths in the hope of getting a free upgrade.

“In truth, free upgrades are rarely offered and the only way to be certain of experiencing what our cabins have to offer is to book the cabin you want in advance and there are often some great deals to be had. If on the rare occasion we do need to offer an upgrade, we usually prioritise our most loyal customers from our frequent flyer programme.

“Every day we receive numerous upgrade requests but one incident that particularly stands out was a request which ended up causing an argument between a married couple. A gentleman, who was travelling with his pregnant wife, requested an upgrade for himself away from his wife as he felt he needed to time to relax due the stress of the pregnancy.”

Virgin Atlantic upgrade prices start from £279 from Economy to Premium Economy and £1,255 from Economy to Upper Class. For details see www.virginatlantic.com 

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