How to get a first class upgrade on your next flight

AOL.com Editors

While we gear up for a few days off from work, time spent with our closest friends and family and endless plates of food, Thanksgiving is not a relaxing time for many. As one of the busiest travel days of the year, you can expect flight delays, packed airports and bumper-to-bumper traffic, in addition to the inflated price of airline tickets we see surrounding the holiday season.  

And while many of these factors -- like flight delays -- are out of our control, there are ways to make your holiday travel less stressful. The biggest way to alleviate the strain of flying around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years? By kicking back in first class. But it's not as easy as you think. 

"The days of dressing up nice and asking a check-in counter or gate agent for an upgrade are over, thanks to record numbers of travelers with elite status in a Hunger Games-like struggle to get those premium cabin seats," said travel guru Brian Kelly, expert behind The Points Guy, to AOL Lifestyle. 

"Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to upgrades, unless you pay for them with cash or points.

While first-class tickets can cost as much as 70 percent more than the price of the economy tickets, there are ways to improve your chances of getting bumped up to a first-class seat.

Read on for Kelly's top tips for flying the high life:

1. Have elite status with an airline — the higher, the better. It also helps to have a luxury credit card that corresponds with the airline of your choice (Citi/AAdvantage Executive, Delta Reserve, United Club Card and Southwest Priority) so you can earn points that help with status and pay for upgrades.

2. You are also sometimes given the opportunity to pay for an upgrade based on distance when you check-in for your flight. Consider buying a full-fare economy class ticket for a better chance for an upgrade on a flight with plenty of business class capacity.

3. Some airlines give you the chance to bid on seat upgrades. If you have the points or the cash, you can get some real bargains compared with paying full price.

4. If a flight is oversold and they're calling for volunteers, take the voucher, but also negotiate for a business class seat on your new flight. And bonus — that comes with premium lounge airport if you don't already have it. If that same oversold flight has empty seats in business class, you could be upgraded if you have elite status with the airline. 

For more holiday travel survival tips, watch the video above.