10 White Lies You Should Tell To Get Free Stuff While Traveling

first class

My husband and I were checking into a hotel for a weekend away when the reservations clerk commented on how happy we looked together and assumed we were on our honeymoon. Before we could correct her and tell her that we’d been married nearly 10 years at that point, she congratulated us and offered us a free upgrade to a suite. Naturally, we told her that we were not on our honeymoon, that we were just out of town for a date weekend without the children and we could not accept such a generous upgrade. Kidding. We thanked her and told her how excited we were to finally be married and happily accepted our free upgrade. Is that wrong? We don’t actually care.

Most of us will lie outright or by omission to get a free upgrade when traveling. From free first class upgrades to a free hotel upgrade to a rental car upgrade to anything in between, it’s just a fact of life. And no, most of us do not feel bad about a little white lie meant to score something totally awesome on an otherwise exceptionally overpriced trip. Does lying for an upgrade work? Sometimes. Statistics, according to CNBC, state that lying for an upgrade works about half the time. What this means is that you have a 50% chance of getting something free of charge and making the price you paid seem a bit more acceptable.

But if you are going to lie about the occasion so that you can get a free upgrade, do it in a nice manner. The same poll reported by CNBC mentioned earlier in this paragraph also states that many people have no qualms about lying about their health or the health of others to receive a free upgrade. While we are all about the white lie for a free first class seat, we are not about lying about poor health – that doesn’t sit right with me. With that in mind, I have 10 other little white lies you can tell that might net you a free travel upgrade (what? I’m not above lying for an upgrade; just lying about health).

It’s Our Honeymoon

This is probably the most common lie that couples tell for a free upgrade, and it sometimes works. If there is an upgrade available, most people are happy to offer it to a couple on their honeymoon provided they look exceptionally happy.  A couple not behaving as if they are honeymooning will not get the upgrade.

It’s Our Anniversary

My husband and I go on an anniversary trip every year, and we have for the past 10 years we’ve been married. We always mention it’s our anniversary and we’ve never once not been given and upgrade. Of course, we haven’t had to lie about it, either, but that just goes to show that mentioning it might just work out for you.

It’s Our Babymoon

Okay, I’m not all about lying about being pregnant; it cannot be good karma. But, why not use your pregnancy for a good reason. If you’re on a work trip with your spouse, tell the airline or hotel that it’s your babymoon and see if they will give you some sort of upgrade so that you can further enjoy your trip. It will work if you are pregnant. I was once given a suite because my husband and I were away with our two older kids when I was pregnant with the twins. When they found out I was expecting twins, they were so sweet to offer us a major upgrade.

It’s Our First Flight, Ever!

I’ve never tried this, but friends of ours were on a flight once where this happened. They got to talking and realized that the couple who told the airline it was their first flight are actually frequent flyers and they use this one anytime they’re on an unfamiliar airline. The couple told our friends it works about 75% of the time since the airline wants them to become repeat customers.

I’m Claustrophobic

I don’t believe that anyone who is claustrophobic would mention this on a flight, or probably even book a flight on a small plane. But some people use this as their excuse to sit in first class, and it allegedly works quite well. Though I know very little about claustrophobia, I imagine elevators and airplanes are where symptoms are exacerbated most, so I’m not sure this would work.

We are Traveling with our Kids and Would Love a Bigger Space

My husband and I use this one regularly when we book hotel rooms, whether our kids are with us or not. We love to have a bigger room that we don’t have to pay to have an upgrade for. It’s a nice change of pace and it works for us quite well. It’s nice because we can usually get it – especially when we really do have our kids in tow.

I’ve Never Gotten an Upgrade Before

It’s not a lie for some, but it’s an effective story for many hotels and rental car agencies and airlines. Just tell them that you’d love a free upgrade because you’ve never gotten one before. Tell them that you’re happy to wait to see if someone else takes it, but that if not, you’d love it. Sometimes just being sincere (in your lie) is the best course of action.

I’m going to Propose

Here’s one that really might work for you, provided you’re not wearing a ring already. Send your significant other to the desk and have them tell this story. Chances are good that you’re going to get a really great upgrade, and maybe even the chance to completely re-do your proposal. It seems like a really good idea for someone who is already either engaged or married, though. Non-engaged couples not really getting engaged might not want to try this out of common courtesy.

I’m Apologizing

This one might not even be a lie. At some point, you’re going to need to apologize for something, right? So why not make it a point to do that right now so that you can get in someone’s good graces. Someone might take some pity on you and upgrade you just so that you can be forgiven.

It’s Our First Vacation

I remember the first time my husband and I went on a vacation together. We were 19 and we weren’t engaged yet. But when we told the flight attendant that this was our first vacation together, she was so excited for us that she moved us directly to business class. And we’ve been using this one ever since.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images


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