How to Find Cheaper Airfares for Business Class
Business-class flight tickets often cost 10 times as much as economy tickets. The expensive airfare comes with several perks, like restaurant-quality meals, fully-reclining seats, and free checked luggage, but most people don’t want to spend so much extra money on a flight.
Fortunately, it is possible to get a business-class ticket for less than the listed price. If you shop carefully and keep your options open, you may find a discounted business-class ticket or even receive a free upgrade. Here are six tips for saving money on business-class airfare.
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Bid on Discounted Tickets
Some airlines offer auctions to their economy ticket-holders, which gives passengers a chance to bid on upgrades. These actions are usually blind and only allow one chance to bid, so it takes some strategy to win.
After you buy your economy ticket, you may receive an email from the airline advertising the opportunity to upgrade by bidding in the auction. The bidding typically starts at a specific minimum value, but you’ll probably have to bid more than the minimum to win the upgrade. If you win, the airline will notify you two or three days before the flight, and your bid will automatically be charged to your credit card.
Airline and travel websites will usually show you how many seats are left on your flight. If there are lots of business-class seats open, you have a greater chance of winning an upgrade. To calculate how much to bid, you should find the regular cost of a business-class ticket and offer 20 to 40 percent of that price.
Book One-Way Flights
It’s sometimes cheaper to book two one-way flights than a round-trip flight, especially on smaller airlines. One airline may offer a cheaper ticket from destination A to destination B, and another airline may be cheaper from destination B back to destination A. If your departure or arrival points are near multiple airports, you can also check whether it’s cheaper to use different airports for both trips.
Open-jaw routes can also save you money on business-class tickets when you plan to travel to multiple destinations. Some travelers will plan on going from destination A to B to C, but they book a round-trip ticket between destinations A and B. Then, they have to travel back to destination B to fly home. Instead, you may save money by buying a one-way ticket from destination A to B and another from C to A to return home.
Fly Certain Airlines
Some airlines offer much cheaper business-class tickets than others. While the cheaper airlines may not offer as many amenities as the more expensive ones, they still have plenty of great business-class features. Most airlines will offer these business-class amenities regardless of their ticket price:
- Extra-wide seats
- Complimentary checked luggage
- In-flight meals
- Priority boarding
Book at the Right Time
Airlines sometimes have specials on their business-class seats. If you subscribe to airline newsletters, you can hear about these deals and book when the prices are at their lowest.
There are also certain times of the day and year that flights are cheaper than usual. Tickets are usually at their lowest 50 days before the flight. Tuesday is the best day of the week to buy a domestic ticket, and 3 p.m. is the best time of day.
The cheapest days to fly domestically are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and the cheapest flights are typically early in the morning. According to Kayak, January is the cheapest month to fly, likely because people use up their vacation days over the holidays in December. However, these are just trends, and the best deals for different flights or airlines may vary.
Use Frequent Flyer Programs
If you travel often and are loyal to one airline, you should take advantage of their frequent flyer program. Most airlines offer free upgrades to business class as a perk. Some have associations with hotels and retail stores and even let you accrue points for non-flight purchases. You can also get points if you use an airline-branded credit card.
Many airlines are part of frequent flyer groups, so you can redeem your points with any of the airline’s partners. The two biggest frequent flyer groups are Star Alliance and OneWorld, but you should choose a frequent flyer program based on which airlines you most often travel with.
Be Polite to Airline Staff
Even if you aren’t able to find a cheap upgrade before your flight, you always have a chance of getting an upgrade while you board. Airlines often overbook flights with the assumption that not every passenger will show up. If they don’t have enough economy seats to accommodate all the passengers, they’ll choose passengers to upgrade to business class for free.
The best way to get a free upgrade is to be polite to the airline staff. When you check in, ask nicely if there are any business-class seats available. If you’re friendly and patient, they may offer you an upgrade.