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Airline seats that become beds, inflight showers, and glasses of champagne on flights. Here’s how to find cheap First Class and Business Class tickets.
Most of my flights are in First Class and Business Class.
There isn’t a massive company behind me footing the bill. I pay for my own flights.
I’m a normal person and not super rich.
I don’t have a trust fund, didn’t win the lottery, and am considered middle class.
Nor do I have an illegal side hustle.
So how do I afford to buy First Class and Business Class tickets?
By knowing and using a few travel hacks, I sit up front and turn left on the plane instead of right and you can too!
Follow these simple tricks and you can get First Class and Business Class flights for less.
- How to Find Cheap First Class and Business Class Tickets
- Be Flexible
- Leave From Another City
- Fly From Another Country
- Book on Lesser Known Airlines
- Always Check All Prices
- Fly on the Right Day
- Book on All Business Class Airline
- Use Discount Codes
- Watch for Airfare Sales
- Look for Error or Mistake Fares
- Book Separate Tickets
- Use Fifth Freedom Routes
- Check With a Consolidator
- Bid For an Upgrade
- Upgrade With Miles and Cash
- Use the Right Credit Card
- Book With Miles or Points
- Get Bumped
- Travel Solo
- Use a Buddy Pass
How to Find Cheap First Class and Business Class Tickets
Who doesn’t dream of being able to stretch out on a flight? Having a bed in the sky? Sitting at a full-size bar while 40,000 feet in the air? Or taking a shower inflight?
Flying in style isn’t just for the rich and famous. Regular people like me and you can enjoy those perks too.
First Class and Business Class airline tickets can be expensive. But they don’t have to be.
Ignore the “advice” of dressing nicely and being polite. While you should always be polite, it won’t translate into a free upgrade or cheap First Class and Business Class tickets.
Here are all the ways to find and book cheap First Class and Business Class tickets.
You can find the best deals First Class and Business Class if you can be flexible with your travel dates.
Consider taking your vacation when others aren’t. Not only will you pay less for your First Class ticket but you could also save on your hotel.
Pro-tips: Use sites like Skyscanner to find the cheapest month to fly.
Leave From Another City
If you can leave from another city, you’ll pay less for First Class and Business Class tickets.
Although I’m based in San Diego, for international flights it’s often cheaper for me to fly from LAX.
Besides considering airports within driving distance, consider flying from another state.
To take advantage of super cheap Business Class flights I’ve flown from Dallas, New York, and Chicago.
Pro-tip: Use your Southwest Companion Pass or book a flight on a low-cost carrier to get to (position) for your flight.
Fly From Another Country
You can score amazing deals on First Class and Business Class tickets when you fly from another country.
When using geoarbitrage to your benefit you’ll save hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Popularized by Tim Ferris in the 4 Hour Workweek, geoarbitrage means taking advantage of lower exchange rates and cost of living in other parts of the world.
Here are some countries where the dollar is strong and you can buy cheap Business Class tickets:
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Cairo, Egypt
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Manila, The Philippines
Plan to arrive two days before your flight in case of any delays. Be sure to check out the visa requirements.
Pro-tip: You have to pay for flights from other countries in that countries currency. Use a card with no foreign transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Book on Lesser Known Airlines
First Class and Business Class tickets are often cheaper when you book on lesser known airlines.
Even discount airlines like Jetstar Airways, Norwegian Airlines, and Icelandair offer premium seats.
Pro-tip: If you’re uncomfortable buying tickets on an unfamiliar airline, buy travel insurance.
Always Check All Prices
When searching for airfare, always check all prices for your flight.
Sometimes First Class and Business Class tickets can be cheaper than coach tickets.
I’ve flown on several flights where my First Class or Business Class ticket cost less than buying an economy ticket.
Pro-tip: Use these websites to find the cheapest prices on flights.
Fly on the Right Day
You’ll score discounted First Class and Business Class tickets if you fly on the right day.
Business travelers buy the majority of First Class and Business Class tickets. Most business travelers fly during the week so there are more premium seats for sale on weekends.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday tend to have more available First Class and Business Class flights.
Pro-tip: There are fewer business travelers flying to Hawaii so getting cheap First Class tickets to Hawaii is easy.
Book on All Business Class Airline
You can fly Business Class for less when you book your flight on an all Business Class airline.
La Compagnie offers roundtrips flights between the US and France from $1,300.
Flights depart and arrive from Newark, Orly (ORY) and Nice Cote d’Azur (NCE) airports.
Pro-tip: You won’t earn any frequent flyer miles.
Use Discount Codes
With an AARP membership, you can save $200 on Business Class tickets booked through British Airways.
You can join AARP regardless of your age.
Pro-tip: You can stack discount codes with airfare sales. I combined a $400 off AARP discount on Business Class seats with a fare sale for my trip to Madrid.
Watch for Airfare Sales
Airfare sales are one of the best times to save on First Class and Business Class tickets.
Some airlines like Emirates plan sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
Other airlines like Qatar frequently offer a buy 1 get 1 free deal on Business Class tickets.
During Qatar’s Golden Ticket sale you could get a roundtrip Business Class ticket for $548!
Pro-tip: Use sites like Skyscanner Everywhere Search tool to find the cheapest flights.
Look for Error or Mistake Fares
Error or mistake fares yield huge savings on First Class and Business Class tickets.
These fares go quick so the general principle is to book first, then worry about getting days off later.
Some airlines honor error or mistake fares but others cancel the tickets. So don’t make any nonrefundable travel plans until you know the airline’s decision.
You can find error or mistake fares on sites like Flyertalk’s Premium Fare Deals.
If you want to get email and text alerts you can use a service like Dollar Flight Club.
Pro-tip: Set alarms and alerts to watch for airfare sales on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
On New Year’s Eve, I booked a roundtrip Cathay Pacific Business Class ticket for $750 and a First Class ticket for $1,100. These tickets normally cost $5,000 to $16,000!
Book Separate Tickets
First Class and Business Class flights are sometimes cheaper when you book separate tickets.
Pricing out each segment of your flight and compare it to the cost of traveling straight through.
For example, my Business Class ticket from Denpasar to Phuket would have cost $624.
But I only paid $298 because I booked it as two tickets: Denpasar to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Phuket. A savings of $326!
Pro-tip: Don’t check bags when booking separate tickets. Or you’ll have to collect your bags from baggage claim, check-in, and go through security.
Use Fifth Freedom Routes
First Class and Business Class tickets cost less when you use fifth freedom routes.
A fifth freedom route is when an airline flies between two countries that aren’t part of their home base. These flights include a leg that goes to the airline’s home country.
For example, Cathay Pacific flies daily from New York to Vancouver ending in Hong Kong. You can book an inexpensive First Class or Business Class ticket from New York to Vancouver.
Pro-tip: Some fifth freedom routes occur once a day or once or twice a week. So have a backup plan in case your flight gets canceled.
Check With a Consolidator
Check with a consolidator for lower-priced First Class and Business Class tickets.
They have access to unpublished fare buckets (prices) on tickets.
You usually won’t earn miles but consolidator tickets are a great way to experience First Class and Business Class for less.
Pro-tip: Some consolidator tickets are very restrictive. Make sure to check the ticket conditions, if you can make changes or get a refund.
Bid For an Upgrade
Some airlines let you bid for an upgrade to First Class and Business Class.
Most airlines use a blind auction process where you submit a bid.
You win if you’ve submitted the highest offer. The airline will charge your credit card and when you check in, you’ll get your Business Class or First Class tickets.
I did this on my Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. But instead of bidding, I asked about paying for the upgrade to Business Class.
Pro-tip: Upgrades bids are per flight. So if your flight has a connection, you have to submit and pay for two upgrades.
Upgrade With Miles and Cash
If there are open First Class and Business Class seats, some airlines will let you upgrade with miles and cash.
Some airlines restrict upgrades to certain fare classes of tickets.
Don’t despair if your upgrade doesn’t clear before your flight. You can get upgraded before takeoff.
On a recent flight to China, I had already boarded and sat in my coach seat, having not heard about my upgrade. You can imagine my joy when the gate agent came on the plane with my new boarding pass for Business Class.
Pro-tip: Before you book your ticket, check the cost to upgrade with miles and cash. It could be worth paying for the Business Class or First Class seat at the time of booking. Because it may cost you more to upgrade than if you booked a Business Class ticket.
Use the Right Credit Card
You can save on First Class and Business Class tickets when you use the right credit card.
Pro-tip: You’ll also get a 35% rebate when you redeem points for Business Class and First Class tickets.
Book With Miles or Points
One of the cheapest ways to get cheap First Class and Business Class tickets is to book with miles or points.
When you redeem miles or points for flights you only pay the airline taxes and government fees.
Pro-tip: You can earn lots of miles and points from credit card welcome offers.
Take advantage of oversold flights and get bumped by volunteering your seat.
Be sure to ask for a First Class or Business Class seat on a later flight.
You have a better chance of getting bumped if you fly during peak times like Thanksgiving and Chrismas.
Pro-tip: You can see how many seats are available on a flight on ExpertFlyer. You can set up text and email alerts to get notified when there are open Business Class and First Class seats.
When you travel solo you have a great chance of getting upgraded to First Class and Business Class.
Because often there may be only one or two premium seats available.
Some airlines in other countries discount First Class and Business Class when only one or two seats remain.
Pro-tip: If you aren’t traveling solo, search for flights one ticket as a time instead of looking for two tickets.
Use a Buddy Pass
If you know someone who works for an airline you can score super cheap First Class and Business Class tickets when you use a buddy pass.
All buddy pass travel is standby so have a backup plan in case you can’t get on the flight.
Pro-tip: Be sure to know the rules concerning buddy passes. United Airlines has a specific dress code and didn’t let two girls on a flight.
You can book and find cheap First Class and Business Class tickets when you know a few tricks.
These tricks will help you fly in the front of the plane and enjoy all the perks and benefits like lounge access, champagne, extra baggage allowance, and more!
From being flexible, flying from another country, booking mistake fares and using miles and points you can score cheap First Class and Business Class tickets.
When buying tickets that depart from another country be sure to pay with a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
What are your favorite tricks to find cheap First Class and Business Class tickets?
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Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.