Hands up who likes the sound of flying with ample leg and bottom room, eating decent food off an actual plate using proper cutlery, being able to recline to horizontal when the mood takes you, and getting to be the first off the flight?
Now, hands up who would pay a premium for the privilege?
Yep, that sound is a thousand hands being lowered and your dreams of a peaceful flight being dashed. Because, let’s face it; if you want to fly business class, you’re going to have to pay for the privilege, sometimes to the tune of five times the cost of economy.
Despite the name ‘business’ class, this class of service isn’t only aimed at (excuse the pun) the highflying businessperson who likes to stare into spreadsheets and graphs, barking orders into their phone the moment airplane mode is deactivated.
Instead, with a little creativity and daring, business class can be accessible to all. Whether it’s transatlantic flights to UK from US or cross continental affairs to East Asia and beyond, there are certain tricks and tips you can deploy to find cheap or discount business class tickets. Here are just a few of them.
Upgrade Via Online Check-In
Sure, this might sound an obvious first tip, but it’s one which can sometimes reap a discounted price on business class tickets.
This is because, on occasion, online check-in provides an ‘upgrade to business class’ option for a (relatively speaking) small surcharge. This option costs much less than buying a business class ticket, or upgrading at the check-in gate.
Of course, the price will depend on the availability of the free unsold seats and the remaining time for the departure, but it’s worth a shot if, on a whim, you suddenly fancy those extra perks that come with the more expensive seats.
Here’s a secret: airlines sell more flight tickets than there are seats on the plane. It is how companies protect themselves from empty seats on board, and it’s a practice which is at times controversial, but, for you, potentially useful.
On each flight, there is always a certain percentage of passengers who buy tickets and don’t register for the flight for various reasons.
So, what to do? Arrive to check in for your flight as late as is possible. You know; really take things down to the wire. Often, airline employees at the check-in desk first seat passengers in economy class, and then, when there are more passengers than seats in economy class, they are seated in business class.
It’s an incredibly risky tactic, we know, particularly when considering the current administrative state of UK airports, but it’s one that can pay off if you’ve got the bottle.
Follow Promotions & Special Offers
In non-tourist season particularly, airlines reduce the price of tickets to keep customers coming in, and occasionally, the chance for a taste of business travel might be sold at the price of a seat in the economy during high season.
You’ll have to keep a keen eye out for those reduced prices, however; they’ll rarely be advertised to the layman. Instead, you’ll often find the best deals by signing up to specific airlines for their promotions and special offers.
Most airlines and price comparison websites will bestow you with price drop alerts if you sell your soul (your email address, actually) to them in return. If you can bear a barrage of promotional material for the rest of time, you might just notice a deal you fancy in amongst the debris.
Air miles see experienced travellers rewarded with bonus points that can be used to purchase a ticket or a class increase, with those bonuses credited to a special card. Often, air miles can be exchanged for upgrades to business class.
Buy Tickets For Early Flights & Unpopular Days
Tickets for early morning flights are generally cheaper, and booking a flight taking off at an inconvenient time may help you land a business class seat at a discounted rate. The day of departure also matters: fewer people fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and airlines may reduce the price of a ticket accordingly.
Report Inconvenience On Board
If you have an issue on board, do make sure you flag it up. Though the British tendency is to grin and bear any problems endured in public, it pays to complain (politely and with respect for all staff, of course) if you are suffering on board.
So, gently indicate if the armrest is broken, your in-flight entertainment is buffering, or you notice a wing’s on fire. Usually, flight attendants are more than happy to transplant respectful, polite passengers if the rules don’t prohibit it.
Fly With Flexibility
It’s crucial to have a little flexibility in your flying, both in destination and date. We’re not saying tear up your whole itinerary and start from scratch, but by utilising that ‘whole month’ feature on most ticket sale websites, you can check which day is cheapest, and make your plans accordingly. Also important to bear in mind; many major destinations have more than one airport, and it could be considerably cheaper to fly to the smaller out of town one and simply use the ‘free bus transfer’ system which often exists between the two
The Bottom Line
Hey, who wouldn’t want a more comfortable flight experience at a reduced price? Allowing you to arrive at your destination refreshed and refuelled, business class isn’t as prohibitive as perhaps you once assumed. That’s as long as you deploy the above tips, that is…