You’re probably wondering if it’s possible to book an affordable business class ticket on your next flight?
Flying business class is considered the height of luxury when travelling and you simply have to try it! Sadly, due to the usual high price tag of a business class seat, it can be off-putting.
I’m here to tell you that travelling business class can be possible on a budget. You simply have to be aware of a few tips to make it happen.
With airlines offering affordable Economy priced tickets you’re probably wondering if they do the same for business-class?
When you go to book your flight, you quickly notice the extra additional charge for business class and give it a hard miss as it’s usually thousands of British pounds more than your economy seat.
Business-class doesn’t seem to come across as good value when booking online. This is money that you would prefer to put towards your holiday or book a whole other holiday entirely instead.
So how do you make business class more affordable or possibly get upgraded?
I have never paid for a full-price business class ticket and managed to travel on over 12 flights in business class.
And before you jump to conclusions, I would like to point out that I’ve never owned an airline credit card to collect points either.
Whilst this is usually a recommendation, I’ve never been amazed by the reward offerings in the UK and found the offers to be more work than they’re worth.
I would also like to mention at this point in the blog that I’m from the UK and most of my success has been in Europe so it might not relate to the US or other parts of the world but I hope you still find my tips useful.
I will share with you the tips that I’ve learned over the years about How to book an affordable Business class ticket and how to also get a possible upgrade.
Use a price comparison website to search for the best deal
Use a price comparison website to search around the web to find the best flight tickets booking business class deals.
Many flight search comparison sites let you search for the business class as well as economy tickets so this a way you can compare the two and see if the extra spend is worth it to travel in business class.
This tip could work well in conjunction with some of the other tips in this blog post, they work hand in hand so you can find the best business class price for your flight.
Short-haul European routes with full lay flat business class experience
Many European airlines need to offer extra training flights to help pilots and crew get used to new aircraft fleets such as the A350 or the B787.
For example, you can fly with Finnair from London Heathrow to Helsinki Vantaa in a proper lay-flat business class configuration for around 3 hours on an A350.
This includes the full menu and dining experience, as well as a proper business class, lay flat seat to try out. Do keep in mind that the flight won’t last very long so you might want to speed up the orders to get the most out of it.
I once flew with Air France from London Heathrow to Paris in business class on the new B787-8. It was a wonderful experience but a super short flight so you had to speed up your meal to make the most out of it. Still managed to find time for a landing cognac.
All you have to do is check the aircraft model type at the time of booking to ensure that it’s the bigger aircraft with the full business class experience. You can always check Seatguru to check out the aircraft configuration as well.
Then you’re getting a proper business class seat for the same price compared to the usual standard business class seat on a short-haul European flight.
This is a great way to fly business class for a fraction of the price and a great way to sample the business class experience and possibly a new modern airline product.
My advice would be to use Airmiles to upgrade from Economy to business class on these flights as you’re getting more value out of the flight. For example, Finnair upgrading this flight from an economy seat would set you back 10,000 miles which I feel is good value.
Look out for business class error fares
This one is probably the riskiest tip and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you go in fully aware that the flight may be cancelled.
From time to time, airlines have computer errors, usually due to a staff mistake and prices appear lower than they should.
Signing up to newsletters such as Jack’s Flight Club and Holiday Pirate will alert you towards airlines that are displaying error fares.
Most airlines have learned from past mistakes and due to terms and conditions they have placed at the time of booking, they do have the power to cancel error fare bookings entirely.
However, as a gesture of goodwill, sometimes airlines do honour error fairs so it might be worth making the booking and taking the gamble fully knowing that the flight might be cancelled.
Due to the high operating costs of running business class, most airlines will cancel error fair bookings, especially if the number of bookings becomes out of hand as the total cost of the mistake, they might not be able to financially recover.
So, it all depends on how many seats were booked before the error was flagged by the airline and if they want to honour them or not.
Be prepared to fly from an alternative destination to lower the business class cost
This may sound like an outlandish tip at first but do keep with me on this one.
Some extremely cheap business class fares might not be departing from your home airport at fire such as from London Heathrow.
But on the odd occasion, a random route might offer a heavily discounted fare, and in this case, it might be worth travelling to that starting destination first with a budget airline to grab that incredible business class deal.
For example, Saudi Airlines was once offering extremely low prices for business class flights from Rome to Riyadh. So it was worth booking a £19.99 Ryanair flight return from London Stansted to Rome to allow the first leg of the trip to work.
I’ve also seen this happen with flights from Stockholm, Brussels and Dublin. All European destinations with cheap budget airline connections are on offer to make the business class connection work and become more affordable.
This way you’re not only stuck with London as your hub for affordable Business class flights you can use multiple airlines across many parts of Europe.
This is all due to low demand on these routes for business class passengers and airlines looking to fill them up to make the most out of these flight routes.
Another example was my return flight with Finnair back to London Via Helsinki from Tokyo, Japan.
I found that from Tokyo, I could take a train to Nagoya for an affordable price and fly from Chubu Centrair International Airport instead, Another airport in Japan that Finnair flys from.
Because it wasn’t a popular airport to fly from compared to Tokyo or Osaka, Business class prices where drastically reduced to attract customers.
This made the one-way train ticket well worth it to access these reduced prices and enjoy flying business class.
Sometimes you have to think outside of the box and put in a bit of work to get a better business class price for practically the same flight duration.
In this case, it was simply the cost of a train ticket so do look at alternative regional airports within the country you’re flying from and see what you can find.
Try your luck and Bid for a business class upgrade
Usually, a few weeks before flying an airline you’ve booked an economy seat ticket which might email you asking if you would like to bid for a business class upgrade.
By all means, bid away! This is a great way of booking a business class ticket at a more affordable price.
Usually, at the time of booking, you can check the business class rates and work out if the bidding offer is worth saving or not.
Not all airlines will do this so it is a bit of a gamble from the get-go. But if they do offer this type of bidding offer it might be worth giving it a go.
I’ve seen many recommending to bid one up from the lowest offer you can bid just to ensure you have more chance of winning as many will offer the lowest bid possible.
Sometimes airlines for a limited time only might just offer you a heavily discounted set price for an upgrade without the need for bidding.
I’ve noticed British Airways do this on the odd occasion and I’ve done this once from Palma to London City as it was only an additional £52 to upgrade to business class Club Europe which included the extra baggage and lounge access on top which worked out in the end as great value.
Dressing nicely and being polite to get a business class upgrade is no longer the case
I just want to clear this up first before I suggest other tips as I’m frequently reading this as a common suggestion and it’s simply not true.
Gone are the days when you could charm your way into business class.
You might have heard about this trick before to Dress up nicely and be polite at the check-in desk to bag yourself a business class upgrade.
I’m afraid to tell you that this will no longer work in today’s world.
However, politeness always goes a long way and costs you nothing to do anyway and you should always be nice to airline staff.
But dressing up smart might have worked in the 90s but it is no longer the case in today’s world.
Staff at the check-in desk usually don’t have the power to upgrade passengers anymore as it’s usually the chief of staff in the head office that are allowed to sign it off.
This is due to the ever-growing costs to run an airline and it’s simply not possible to hand out free upgrades at the check-in desk anymore.
So in my opinion dressing up and working your charm at the check-in desk, won’t get you far at all.
Just ask for a business class upgrade at the check-in desk and also at the gate
Just ask for a business class upgrade, you have nothing to lose.
Now you are fully aware that dressing fancy doesn’t work, no harm in simply asking.
The airline might have a special deal on offer or a last-minute discounted price at the check-in desk.
You can also ask at the gate, I’ve heard this has worked better for some people too.
I’ve read some passengers first asking at the check-in desk and then asking at the gate and discovering that the business class upgrade offer had been reduced at the gate (No luggage or lounge access).
It all depends on what country you’re in and how the airline handles its operations.
I’ve had more upgrades at the gate than I have at the Check-in. When your flight is boarding, if the ticket machine beeps twice, that usually means your ticket needs to be switched for a business class ticket.
It’s a wonderful feeling I can tell you when that happens.
Work on your airlines status to get upgraded
If you were an airline, who would you upgrade to business class? A customer who has a gold level airline status or a customer who has never flown with you before?
Loyalty is key these days as airlines wish to upgrade those who frequently fly with them to keep them coming back for more.
For example, I try to stick with flying One World Airlines such as with Finnair, Japan Airlines, British Airways, Malaysian Airlines, American Airlines and many more to help build up my One World status.
I’ve collected over 200,000 Air Miles without the use of an airline credit card.
All collected by simply flying and showing my frequent flyer status card when booking my ticket.
If a One World flight is a little bit extra on top of the cheapest flight for a route I’m flying I will opt to pay the little extra as I can then unlock many more perks available for different frequent flyer tiers.
Such as extra complimentary baggage, use of different check-in lanes, priority security, use of One World lounge access, priority boarding and advance seat selection.
All these extra perks usually come as standard with a business class ticket but I unlock them with my status level and they don’t cost me an additional fee apart from the economy ticket that I’ve booked.
It’s something worth working towards for sure and unlocks many extra travel perks that make travelling more easier.
It just makes travelling a lot more convenient and I have been upgraded to Business class due to my frequent flyer status. It doesn’t happen all the time but it does happen.
Also, once you reach different levels you will unlock business class upgrade vouchers that you’re welcome to use as you wish which is a nice bonus for loyalty.
The best part of signing up to an airline’s frequent flyer club is that it’s free to do so!
If the flight is full, you might have a better option of being upgraded to business class
If the flight you’re on is full and you are a solo traveller, this method might work for you.
You can make the airline aware that you’re open to offering up your seat if needed which could come with a load of added perks. Depending on the airlines policy.
If you’re not in a rush home and don’t mind adding an extra day to your trip in exchange for compensation then you might be in luck.
Usually, the same flight might be departing the next day so won’t add too much of an inconvenience to your trip.
You could be offered hundreds of pounds compensation in the form of a flight voucher, meal vouchers, airport hotel and most importantly, see if it’s possible to have an upgrade on the next flight.
All for helping out a passenger who needs to get onto your departing flight. Or possibly due to the airline overbooking and they need to quickly fix it.
This happened to me once at JFK New York airport when flying American Airlines to London Heathrow. They had oversold one seat and the passenger had to be on that flight.
I was flying solo and wasn’t in a rush.
Remember in this situation, the ball is in your court, so make sure you get all the perks you’re entitled to, including the possibility of a business class upgrade if they are available.
I made the staff aware that I was willing to offer up my seat.
Be sure to get in first otherwise you might find yourself in a bidding war with other passengers.
I was offered in exchange for my seat a compensation fee, a business class seat upgrade on the next available flight and had an airport hotel and food arranged for the layover.
Not a bad day’s work and I was able to help the airline solve a big issue they had and the desperate traveller made it on the flight all ok.
Different business class options on offer: Business class light
Be aware that some airlines are now selling “Business light” tickets which take all the perks and frills away from business class for a reduced fee.
Business-class light doesn’t usually include check-in baggage, use of the dedicated business class check-in lane, priority security, lounge access, advanced seat selection.
Instead, you will get a business class seat with full meal service.
All you’re getting is the seat and the meal service.
Some business class features onboard such as WiFi access might be taken away.
This will come with a heavily reduced rate and might be a more affordable option for you to travel business class.
Look out for airline promotions Sign up to email newsletters and follow on social media
If you sign up for airline newsletters and follow your favourite airlines on social media, you will be the first to find out about business class airline promotions.
Many airlines will promote special sales and promotions a few times throughout the year and they usually always offer a few good bargains in business class.
Usually, it’s to help push new routes they’re promoting and want to tempt you into paying a little bit extra for the business class experience.
If you follow the terms and conditions of the offers you will most likely find a few of the limited priced promotional offers of discounted business class.
Sign up for those email newsletters and see what discounted business class rates you can find.
Upgrade to business with frequent flyer loyalty programs
Once you’ve collected enough Air Miles with your chosen airline, you can use them to redeem towards flight tickets.
My best advice to maximise the use of your Airmiles is to purchase an affordable economy ticket then use your Air Miles towards upgrading to business class.
This is a by far more effective way of using your Air Miles than for example on an economy ticket.
Work out what destinations are in which air mile distance zones and see how far you can travel on your air miles.
For example, Finnair has Tel Aviv and Dubai as European zoned destinations. This means you will use the same amount of Air Miles to reach Dubai or Rome from Helsinki. By using the same amount of Air Miles towards a flight to Dubai you’re getting a much better deal.
Check out your airline’s air miles charts and work out the best routes to use your Air Miles towards business class upgrades.
Also, keep an eye on Airlines offering a promotion of selling Tier points to loyalty program members.
Sometimes it might be a better deal to purchase tier points on offer for discounted rates so you can upgrade to a better status which comes with business class upgrade vouchers.
Usually, when the airlines do a special promotional deal on purchasing Tier points, I go to the Flyer talk forum and find a discussion on how to get the best deal out of the offer as it usually takes some working out.
Find cheap business class flights by being early
This one is a wild card suggestion but I have found that the earliest flights usually have the most affordable business class tickets.
This is usually due to the fact that fewer people are travelling during the early hours of the morning and this is one-way airlines can tempt passengers on to that flight.
Another reason why the earliest business class flights are cheaper is that the airline’s lounge might not be open at that time of day and the onboard dining experience will be a reduced breakfast menu and doesn’t usually include any alcoholic drinks allowing the airline to reduce the cost of the fare.
But, if you happen to be travelling early and don’t mind a breakfast menu onboard then this is a great way to pay less for a business class seat.
Apart from the early flights, you might get lucky with finding affordable business class seats on routes with extremely long layovers, odd and awkward times like red-eye flights and overnight departures.
Usually, your ticket will come with lounge access for the long layovers so it depends if you don’t mind that sort of thing.
At least the lounge usually has shower access, entertainment, workspace and catering so it’s purely your choice.
Business class is more affordable with low-cost carriers
Another option of travelling business class for a low price is flying with a budget airline on a long haul flight such as with Norwegian Air, Air Transat, Scoot or Dubai air.
All offer business class seats for low-cost prices.
Do bear in mind that it might be more of a premium economy seating layout than lay flat and a limited set menu compared to commercial airlines. At least you get the option to try a business class with a budget price tag.
However the newer aircraft of FlyDubai, the B737 Max have a flat layout offering the best budget in business you can find in the sky.
Thank you for reading my blog about how to find affordable business class tickets
Thank you for passing by my blog post and reading all my tips about how to find an affordable business class ticket or bag yourself an upgrade.
I hope you found all the information useful and it’s helped towards your future trip planning.
All the best with your adventure finding the best deals on business class flight tickets. Happy travels!