This is discounted by the fact that many will already be sitting in the premium cabin.
Now to reach invitation-only status can be quite a challenge – unless you are a corporate high flyer, senior civil servant of a banana republic or Mr. British Airways has its invitation only from United Airlines.
Say there are a total of 10 million members – you can expect about 120,000 (1.2%) mid-tier members, 5,000 (0.05%) top-tier members and 500 (0.005%) invitation-only members.
Of course, elite members happen to fly a lot more often than standard members, so their relative density on any given flight will be a lot higher.
However most airlines play fair and will generally only upgrade 1 class up.
First we can upgrade 5 business class passengers to first class – which leaves 28 open seats in business.
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(Note, you may publish elsewhere as long as you use an attribution link to Air Travel or this current page.) So how does an airline normally decide which passengers to upgrade?
At the very least you should always join the airline program which will give you immediate priority over any non-members.
Also consider the distribution of members in a standard frequent flyer program.