Do you want to fly business class but think it’s outside your price range? They’re still expensive to be sure, but here are my budget busting tips for getting the best deal on a business class seat:
1. Book either really early or at the last minute
Keep an eye out for early bird discounts, and the occasional very short term crazy-cheap deal. While these types of discounts can be very short lived – sometimes only a matter of a few days, the fares can often be booked for travel months and months ahead. Conversely sometimes great deals also come up at the last minute if you are prepared to take the risk and complete your travel within a matter of weeks. Sign up for airline email newsletters and deal alerts to keep up with what’s happening with your favorite airline, as often these deals are not advertised in the general press.
2. Look carefully at dates and days of the week
Know your route and the people who travel on it and use this to your advantage. For example, we saved about $800 a ticket by traveling business class to Bali just before the school holidays started. Bali is a popular family holiday destination from Australia, so the fares are always far more expensive in school hols – by booking outside that time we saved big dollars. The opposite is true on heavy business routes, such as the London-New York route. On a route like that look for cheaper seats on weekends and during the holidays.
3. Consider a cheaper airline
A cheaper business class airline may not offer you a completely lie flat seat and a massive choice of inflight entertainment or variety of menu choices, but does all of that matter? If you can sleep on the plane regardless, are happy with bringing along your own entertainment and are happy with a restricted menu choice go for it and save big time. You’ll still get a dedicated check in, big comfy seat, more personal attention and a better choice of food served in a more relaxing atmosphere. Check out airline review websites and work out which one may work for you.
4. Develop a relationship with a travel agent you trust
Not only will they be able to give you the heads up on great deals, but an agent you who knows you and your likes and dislikes can help steer you to perhaps look at options you might not have considered on your own – at a great price.
5. Check multiple sources for prices
Once you’ve decided on an airline, shop around. Airline websites are often the most expensive place to buy your ticket. Travel agents can be pretty competitive depending on how aggressive they are prepared to be in the marketplace, but often the big online services are the cheapest of all. Check the ticketing price or other service fee on any website before you click buy, and also beware of credit card surcharges many airlines will slug you for on their own websites.
6. Use points and pay frequent flyer deals
Many airlines will allow you to use what frequent flyer points you have and top them up with cash to buy your ticket. Realistically these deals only work if you are close to having the full amount of frequent flyer miles – otherwise they can be a very expensive option. I once checked on one of my programs where I had about half the points I needed. The price I needed to pay to “top up” my points was almost the same as the cost of a ticket to buy outright – a blatant waste of money. When only a few points short I paid less than $100 to top up my points and buy my ticket – that was a great deal!
If you’ve flown business class and got a fantastic deal, I’d love to hear how you did it!