How to Find Cheap First Class and Business Class Tickets

May 7, 2019 in Travel, Travel Tips - 24 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. 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. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Please read my Disclosure and Privacy pages for more info.

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

Is First Class on Lufthansa better than Cathay Pacific First Class? Find out when you read my review of Lufthansa First Class 747-8 Los Angeles to Frankfurt flight. https://www.travelingwellforless.com
Lufthansa First Class from Los Angeles to Frankfurt for 110,000 miles

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.

Be Flexible

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

Camels and pyramids at the hot sunny evening in Egypt
Find cheap First Class and Business Class tickets by flying from other countries like Egypt

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

Consider paying for memberships in organizations like Founders Card that offer discount codes on flights.

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

Get free airline tickets including First Class on Cathay Pacific by using travel rewards points. | How to travel for free | Traveling Well For Less |
Thanks to a mistake fare I flew First Class on Cathay Pacific for $1,100 roundtrip!

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.

Cards like the American Express Platinum card and the Amex Business Platinum card offer preferred pricing and discounts on premium tickets.

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

You can use miles and points to book the Singapore Suites

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.

If you’re short miles or points, you can buy miles. Before you do read my post on the only time you should buy airline miles.

Pro-tip: You can earn lots of miles and points from credit card welcome offers.

Get Bumped

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.

Travel Solo

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.

Conclusion

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?

Pin this post

Who doesn't dream of being able to stretch out on a flight? Having a bed in the sky? Or taking a shower inflight? First Class and Business Class airline tickets can be expensive. With these tricks you can book and find cheap First Class and Business Class tickets. #travel #traveltips #travelhacks #travelwell4less

Comment, share this post, tweet, or give me a +1.

Get the best credit card signup bonuses.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram 

Got a question? Or want help, suggestions, travel tips, learn how to travel for free, find out about travel deals, and maximize your miles and points? Use the subscription box below to sign-up and get post updates by email.

Read our blog via RSS feed.

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.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 

Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

All posts

24 Comments

  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Ryan K Biddulph May 8, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    More gems here guys. Just nabbed cheap tix from BKK to JFK.

    • Debra Schroeder May 13, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Hi Ryan,

      Awesome! Glad the post helped you score a cheap ticket!

  • Jackie Ramirez May 10, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Great tips! My hubby has vowed never to fly coach again, so these tips will come in handy when we plan the rest of our travels.

  • Sarah May 11, 2019 at 4:30 am

    I am a frequent flyer, but most of my flights are short haul within Europe (and therefore not really worth going for business class). But turning left on a flight to the US is very high on my bucket list and something I keep promising my husband. So thanks for sharing all those tips, well worth exploring these.

    • Debra Schroeder May 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the kind words. Yep, intra-Europe Business Class doesn’t offer the flat seats but it could be worth it for the higher limit for carryon bags, lounge access, and extra checked bag allowance.

  • Cherene Saradar May 11, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Question…for the geoarbitrage strategy….let’s say I have to fly from Bangkok to Colombo….is there a way to get this cheaper fare ahead of time or does this only work when you purchase it IN the country???

    • Debra Schroeder May 13, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Hi Cherene,

      You can purchase flights in advance. You don’t have to physically be in the other country to purchase a flight. You can buy it online while you’re in the US or any country. 🙂 Just reminder that because the flight starts in another country, you’re charged in that currency. So you’ll want to use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Hope that helps.

  • Kesi May 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Wow. What a complete list! I usually only fly business class if I can use miles! Otherwise, it is still out of my budget, unless I’m lucky and can get an error fare!

    • Debra Schroeder May 13, 2019 at 11:22 am

      Hi Kesi,

      Thanks. Remember tip/secret #5 – always check all prices because sometimes First Class and Business Class is cheaper than coach. 🙂

  • Olivia Dejeu May 11, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I actually did follow some of the airlines’s sales and sometimes this can be such a life saver! This is super useful thank you <3

  • noel May 11, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    great tips and places to take advantage of some travel hacks to go to some of your favorite places on your bucket list. I already do a few of these but you share some fantastic new ones for me to start working on.

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman May 11, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    It’s amazing how well booking separate tickets work. You’d think that modern search engines should just be able to find these deals for you but, for some reason, they don’t. This trick works even better if you know which airports to bounce through. Also, leaving from another country works well. We lived in SD for a number of years and we book out of TJ more often than LAX. Although, it’s almost cheating because you can park in America and walk directly into the airport.

    • Debra Schroeder May 13, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Hi Jenn and Ed,

      Right? It’s crazy how cheaply you can get flights from Tijuana. And yes, the cross border entry makes it nice and easy.

  • Shreya Saha May 13, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Oh my God! I have never thought of all these ideas. Booking separate tickets is a great idea. Also checking error fares is something I was completely unaware of. I will definitely try some of these if my luck is good, I may get it.

  • Jean May 14, 2019 at 4:57 am

    I wish Australian credit cards gave us these kinda great points. Sadly they just don’t. Maybe I’ll need to find myself a trust fund baby so I can fly first class.

  • Ami Bhat May 14, 2019 at 5:54 am

    From all this advice, the one thing that stood out for me is the flexibility part. Unfortunately that is the mistake that I make. My dates or place of embarkation is often a little fixed. Guess I need to change my approach

  • Dylan Myers May 14, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Awesome tips! We are all about saving money so I never considered flying first class. But it seems more possible now.

  • Sherianne May 14, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    So much great information! I am joining dollar flight club right now and will also check out expert flyer to assess the remaining seats

  • Indrani May 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Great tips. Very helpful ones. I never considered flying out from another city.
    Flying out of Bangalore is really expensive.

  • Nicole LaBarge May 14, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    These are some great tips! I used geoarbitrage when I was in Colombia and scored some really cheap flights. I love flying business class.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    ×