25 Ways To Score Business Class Flights for Cheap


Flying in economy versus business class offers a vastly different experience, particularly regarding seat comfort, in-flight amenities, and overall tranquility.

I used to save frequent flyer miles and credit card rewards to upgrade to business class. However, after being bumped from a flight and receiving a complimentary business-class upgrade, I’ve explored various ways to secure affordable or free business-class flights.

1. Redeem Frequent Flyer Miles

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Airlines offer special rewards to frequent flyers through loyalty programs. These programs often have partnerships with hotels, car rentals, and other businesses, allowing members to earn more points. For instance, Delta’s SkyMiles, British Airways Executive Club, American Airlines’ AAdvantage, and United’s MileagePlus are loyalty programs that let you earn miles when flying with their airline and their partners.

Usually, you earn miles depending on how far you travel and your fare class (higher fare classes often earn more miles). You can use these miles for upgrades to business class. If you don’t have enough miles, you can pay partly with cash for discounted business-class tickets.

2. Use Credit Card Points for Travel Rewards

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Credit card points make flying business class accessible to everyone and even let you score free plane tickets. Use your credit cards for everyday expenses like groceries and gas to earn points quickly. Then, transfer these points to airline loyalty programs to book tickets or upgrades.

Airline tickets are usually cheaper when paid from mileage redemptions. For example, a $3,000 round-trip business-class ticket worth around 150,000 points can go down to as low as 50,000 points on sale or other promotions. Look into credit cards from banks like Amex, Capital One, and Chase, which offer travel rewards. Also, consider airline-branded cards for even more points and travel-specific deals.

3. Monitor Plane Ticket Sales From Airline Websites

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To find discounted business-class fares, actively monitor promotions. Airlines frequently offer sales, especially on Boxing Day and Black Friday. Subscribe to mailing lists of major carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, British Airways, and others to stay informed about these events.

4. Watch Out for Error Fares

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Actively search for business-class ticket pricing mistakes when current promotions are not available. Flights and fares change rapidly, leading to occasional errors in pricing. While these mistakes are challenging to discover and airlines fix these quickly, you can still book them before they’re corrected. Sign up for email alerts from websites like SecretFlying.com, HolidayPirates.com, Flynous.com, Jack’s Flight Club, and others to catch these error fares.

5. Book in Advance or Upgrade Last-Minute

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Timing can also be key to securing cost-effective deals on business-class tickets. You can benefit from low fares by booking months in advance or seizing last-minute opportunities. Airlines may offer reasonably priced business-class upgrades on the day of your flight to fill empty seats. Check for these last-minute offers on the airline’s app or website.

6. Use Flight Comparison Websites to Spot Business-Class Ticket Deals

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Flight comparison websites like Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak, and Expedia enable users to compare flight prices and options from various airlines and travel agencies. You can customize the search engines on these websites based on your preferences, such as dates, departure and arrival airports, number of stops, and airline alliances. Additionally, you can filter by seating category, allowing you to discover potential price drops or special deals for business-class fares.

7. Find an Agent Specializing in Business Class Cabins

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If you’re in a hurry or don’t have the time to sort through numerous booking sites, you can hire or book from business class agents like SkyLux Travel, SimplyBusinessClass, SkyClub, or Mr. Upgrade’s First Class Flyer to help you out.

Business class agents specialize in first-class and business-class airline tickets. They can access exclusive promotions, package deals, and discounts unavailable to the general public. These services are ideal for corporate travel, multi-destination routes, and other bespoke travel requests.

8. Pick Off-Peak Dates or Shoulder Seasons

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Travelers with flexible travel dates can benefit from lower fares during shoulder season. Shoulder season occurs between a destination’s peak and off-peak travel periods.

Travelers must decide if they’re open to different destinations and whether they can travel during off-peak times and shoulder seasons. Once they’ve decided which factor is non-negotiable, pick the airlines accordingly.

For instance, January and February are shoulder-season months in Egypt and Turkey, so airlines like EgyptAir and Turkish Airlines will likely offer deals. On the other hand, November and early December are off-peak months in North America, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean, meaning you can find better deals from airlines like Fiji Air, American Airlines, or Virgin Atlantic.

9. Fly on Non-Business Days

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After analyzing 917 million airfares in the United States, CheapAir.com’s 2024 Airfare Study reports to consumers the perfect time to buy cheap flights and factors that affect airfare pricing. According to the report, flying on Sundays is the most expensive, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest. Business travel makes Fridays busy, while Saturdays are popular for leisure travelers.

Following advice from this report, you’d have better luck scoring cheaper business-class fares if you decide to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Remember that this advice may no longer be valid if a holiday falls on Tuesday or Wednesday.

10. Fly From Alternate Airports

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You can find business class flights with better fares if you avoid popular airports and opt for an alternate hub nearby. Choosing a less crowded hub also means seats won’t sell out quickly, giving you more options when booking tickets. It’s a straightforward way to save on airfare, especially if you’re close to multiple airports and not rushing to your destination.

11. Negotiate Directly With the Airline

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Airlines might provide discounted business-class fares if you inquire directly. However, this depends on whether you booked during off-peak hours, group size, frequent flyer status, or other factors. Sometimes, if you miss an airfare price drop after buying tickets online, you can ask the airline for a refund or future travel credit. Negotiating seat upgrades with the airline varies, so there are no guarantees.

12. Volunteer To Get Bumped Off Your Seats

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Airlines sometimes overbook to ensure all seats are full, even with no-shows. However, if everyone turns up, airlines will have the issue that they can’t offer a seat to everybody. To solve this, airline representatives ask passengers willing to volunteer to be bumped off the flight. In exchange, they might offer business class seating on the next available flight, a voucher, or other travel perks.

13. Look For Consolidator Fares From Travel Agencies

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Travel agencies and other wholesalers purchase tickets in bulk from airlines at a lower rate. These companies then resell these consolidator fares to travelers at a discounted price. While consolidator fares are often more affordable than regular airline prices, they have limitations or restrictions. As such, read policies before buying.

14. Check for Companion, Group, or Corporate Discounts

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Airlines offer their customers deals if they travel in pairs or groups. With companion tickets, you buy the first business-class ticket at full price, then the second ticket for your travel companion at a discounted rate. Most airlines also offer discounts for booking multiple seats in business class, as long as the group travels together on the same flight.

15. Subscribe to Flight Deal-Tracking Services

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Ideal for people who travel frequently, purchasing a subscription to deal-tracking services like Going and Ashley Gets Around has the potential to save you a lot of time and money. Ashley Gets Around and Going both have international and domestic airfare promos, mistake fares, and a list of the best deals with the most miles or credit card points filtered for you.

Ashley Gets Around has a forever-free plan, but paid memberships receive all the info on airfare deals. Going has a free trial, but you’d have to pay a membership fee to continue reaping the benefits.

16. Buy a Vacation or Cruise Package

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Many people know the savings they could get by purchasing accommodation, rental cars, and tours with airfare bundled in a package. That is how traditional travel agencies profit from discounted vacation packages.

However, few people realize they can purchase discounted business-class tickets through a cruise line. The key is to book your flights along with the cruise package, allowing the cruise line to negotiate airfare on your behalf. Sometimes, the cruise line also includes additional perks like extra baggage and priority check-in to enhance your experience.

17. Take a Repositioning Flight

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A repositioning flight is when an airline moves an aircraft from one airport to another. They schedule these flights for operational reasons like adjusting flight schedules, maintenance, or meeting demand in other areas. Repositioning flights usually don’t carry passengers, but airlines may sell seats to the public or offer them to employees at discounted rates. Also, airlines usually do not advertise repositioning flights, but you can find them via flight-tracking websites or by contacting the airline directly.

18. Be Open to Multiple Stopovers

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Consider dividing your journey into multiple trips if traveling to two or more countries. You can purchase cheaper business-class fares if you opt out of direct flights. Pick shoulder-season countries as either your destination or stopover for additional savings. When you’ve booked this way successfully, always double-check the timing of connecting flights.

19. Take Advantage of One-Way Ticket Bookings

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People often book two-way tickets in advance to avoid any hassle going home. However, if you’re trying to cut the costs of business-class tickets, you could purchase one-way fares instead. You might need to work extra hard to find a return ticket that perfectly fits your departure day and time, but you could have significant savings.

20. Join the Waitlist for Business Class Upgrades

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To get waitlisted for a business-class upgrade, buy an economy-class ticket for your desired flight. Then, contact the airline and request an upgrade to business class. If seats aren’t available, ask to be waitlisted.

While this upgrade method is free, getting into the waitlist isn’t guaranteed. Airlines prioritize customers based on factors like fare class and frequent flyer status. The airline will notify you via email, text, or booking app if a seat becomes available.

21. Level-up Your Airline Status

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Airlines categorize loyalty program members by status based on the miles they earn within a calendar year. Every airline has different status tiers and milestones frequent flyers must reach. Passengers with the highest status will most likely receive a free upgrade to business class if seats are available due to factors like missed flights or unsold seats.

22. Participate in Flight Auctions

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Local and international airlines hold flight auctions to sell unsold business-class seats, allowing passengers to bid for them at potentially lower prices. These auctions are open to guests with economy tickets, who get notified about a week before departure to participate in the bidding. Travelers can visit the airline’s bidding page, enter their confirmation number, and place a bid for discounted business-class seats.

To participate in the auction, airlines set a bidding floor amount. It’s mostly a blind auction, which means you won’t know what others are bidding. You’ll be notified of your win or loss within days or hours of departure. You don’t have to do anything else—the airline will just upgrade your economy ticket to business class and charge your credit card. Bids are often made separately for each leg of the journey, not for the entire round trip, so read those details before bidding.

23. Book Economy, Then Buy a Business Class Upgrade

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If you can’t find any business-class airfare promotions, you can still save money by buying a regular economy ticket. Check your reservation on the airline app or website, find the upgrade option, and pay to upgrade your ticket. This method isn’t free, but if you upgrade closer to your departure date and business-class seats are still available, the airline could offer the upgrade at a discounted rate. Some airlines let you purchase an upgrade at the kiosk while checking in. 

24. Buy Airline Points During Sale

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People usually save frequent flyer miles and travel credit card points for airfare perks. However, not many people know that you can purchase miles even if you don’t have any plans to travel soon. Be on the lookout for airline promotions, selling miles at a discount during specific periods. Visit the airline you’re a frequent flyer with regularly, or sign up for their email list to get updated when there’s a sale on buying miles.

25. Use Cashback Programs To Save Travel Rewards

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You can reduce out-of-pocket expenses you made when booking business-class flights by leveraging cashback programs. Sign up for programs offering rewards for purchases with specific credit cards or affiliated retailers. You can accumulate cashback rewards from everyday spending or directly towards flight expenses when booking through participating airlines or travel agencies.


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