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Occasionally you'll hear of your jammy mate down the pub who swindled an upgrade on his travel.
For many of us though, the dream of sitting in first class luxury is separated from the reality of economy class by a curtain on the plane.
However, maybe it won't be too long before we can bust our way through and enjoy cocktails whilst flying halfway around the world... for half the price.
Gilbert Ott, a New York-based traveller, has shared his tricks with the Daily Mail and explained how you can buy air miles cheaply without flying anywhere, and how missing flights can actually help you.
Tip One: Know How To Get Airmiles
There are two main ways to get air miles: the first is spend money on credit cards; the second is to fly with a certain airline.
"But there's a third way," explains Gilbert. "And that's to just buy them directly from the carrier. Every few months, airlines sell off their points in promotional sales which means you can purchase air miles without actually flying anywhere.
"You can then use them to book trips in upper class for significantly less."
His example uses a current deal with United Airlines. Flying from Hong Kong to Sydney in first class, sipping champers all the way, uses 40,000 miles - which you can purchase for just £839. Booking the traditional way means the cost would rocket to £4,689.
Using partnerships, such as between Alaska Airlines and Qantas, means you can use points on more than one carrier.
Booking from the United States to Australia with Alaska, first class, costs 70,000 miles, whereas with Qantas it would be 144,000. It's £1,185 a trip in the premium part of a plane with Alaska, it should cost £8,000 and economy class is just £800.
Tip Two: Watch The Price... Closely.
By setting alerts on Google Flights or Kayak, for example, you can catch cheap flash sale deals, which can expire in hours (gone before you've even had chance to see them).
There are websites, such as the one that Gilbert runs (God Save The Points) and Seret Flying, that also highlight deals that you wouldn't find unless you're looking hard.
Tip Three: Download Airline Apps
Know who you're flying with, but already have an economy seat, don't worry an upgrade could still be on the cards.
"Airlines offer flash upgrades all the time now," Gilbert said. "Even with dirt-cheap economy tickets, many carriers now offer them to passengers who use their website or mobile app to check on their booking."
Tip Four: Missing A Flight Accidentally On Purpose
Known as 'hidden city ticketing', this works by booking a flight to a destination where your intended city is a layover, rather than the final stop.
By not taking the last leg, you can fly much cheaper. For example, booking a flight from London to Los Angeles in economy with Air New Zealand costs £539 in economy class. However, flying from Sweden to LAX with British Airways, in premium economy, costs £486, and stops over in London on its way back.
The last leg of this journey, is the one that you'd miss intentionally.
Again, London to Rio costs £2,000. But providing you can get yourself to Brussels for less than £800, then you'd make a saving - the flight from the Belgian capital only costs £1,200.
Tip Five: Additional Bonuses
The more you fly the more perks you get, from lounge access, to upgrades and free drinks.
"For example, American Airlines normally requires you to accrue 100,000 miles before granting you top-tier elite status," Gilbert added.
"But if you take their status challenge, flying 25,000 miles in three months, it's yours. For someone with a big trip coming up, this is totally doable."
Sites like RocketMiles and Kaligo give you 1,000 airmiles for referring friends to their platform.
And finally, the overbooked flight.
He said: "This has worked for me quite a few times, on quite a few different airlines around the world...
"The good thing with oversold flights is that at the very least, you're owed compensation, which can make for a free future trip."
Using a website like ExperFlyer.com will let you see how many seats are left on a plane. The best time to do this, according to Gilbert, is during peak travel periods when airlines are frantically selling more tickets than they have seats.
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