Yes, it’s possible to score deals on upgraded seats when you fly – if you can be flexible with departures and destinations.
Flying business class feels like something of a fantasy for many of us. We trudge to our basic economy seats at the back of the plane, trying to play aisle Tetris in an attempt to get ourselves and our bags past the crowds of people whose seats are in front of us. As we pass all those rows, sweat furrowing our brows, we can’t help but notice those well-dressed people comfortably seated with a cocktail near the front. Their own travel experience is much, much different than ours.
Business class is a more comfortable way to fly, but it’s a way more expensive way to fly, too. Prohibitively expensive, at that. Especially on long haul or international flights, which is when we most want it. But something pretty magical has happened in the last few years — the pandemic has changed a lot about travel. And high on that list is just how much business travel is actually happening.
“While leisure travel has fully rebounded (and in many instances is now higher than pre-pandemic), business travel volume is still down 15 to 25%,” says Scott’s Cheap Flights founder Scott Keyes. “The recovery of business travel seems to have leveled off, and at this point it’s not unreasonable to wonder if a chunk of that 15 to 25% will ever come back.”
What this means is, those pricey business class tickets have just become shockingly more obtainable. “It’s easier than pre-pandemic to get a good deal in business class, though not as easy as 2020/2021,” says Keyes. “With business travel still diminished, airlines are aiming to fill those empty seats with upper-middle class vacationers,” says Keyes.
But this isn’t an equal trade, and that fits into the pricing equation of business class travel. “Business travelers are price insensitive; they don’t care what a flight costs because their company pays. Leisure travelers, even wealthier ones, care about the price because any money spent on the flight is money that comes out of a personal bank account,” says Keyes.
Fly to Portugal
Oddly specific, but there’s a point to this. You have a good shot of getting a good deal. But it’s also the larger message of…knowing where the deals are to be had. “TAP (Portugal’s flagship airline) has had by far the most sales on transatlantic business class fares, with prices regularly under $2,000 roundtrip (compared to $3,500+ normally),” says Keyes.
Go where the deals pop up. “In the same way it’s hard to say what the stock market will do tomorrow, it’s hard to say in advance where tomorrow’s cheap flight will be. But if you’re hoping to take a vacation and getting a cheap flight is a priority, purposefully not choosing a specific destination and instead going where the next great deal pops up, whether it be Spain or South Africa or Japan, is a reliable strategy,” says Keyes.
To get the best deals on business-class flights, you need to be flexible with your travel dates. This means that you should be willing to fly on different days and at different times to get the best possible prices.” You can use online tools like Google Flights or Skyscanner to help you find the cheapest flights available. Usually, these websites will allow you to set up alerts so that you can be notified when there are any changes in flight prices,” says Justin Crabbe, CEO of Jettly.
Think Winter Midweek
And, yes, that may mean booking travel in February. “That month is the least popular month worldwide for travel, and the middle of winter is when you see demand at its lowest, so you have the least competition from other travelers for limited business class seats,” says Keyes.
A way to get cheaper business-class flights is to travel during off-peak times. This means avoiding flying during holidays and other busy periods. Instead: “Opt for flights during midweek or early morning/late evening hours. With less demand for these flights, airlines are often willing to offer discounts to fill up their seats,” says Crabbe.
Sign up for newsletters
Another great way to stay informed about business-class flight deals is to sign up for newsletters from airlines or travel websites. “You’ll be among the first to know about any special offers or sales. Many airlines also offer loyalty programs where members can earn points or miles that can be redeemed for future travel,” says Crabbe. A related good bet is to follow airlines on social media. This is often where airlines will first share special deals and promotions, and if you follow them, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on all of the latest deals.
Check other airlines
When you’re searching for business-class flight deals, be sure to check airlines other than your usual carrier. “You may be surprised to find that another airline offers better prices or benefits. For example, some airlines offer free stopovers in certain cities, while others include complimentary lounge access or other perks,” says Crabbe. Usually, not-so-familiar airlines will offer better deals to attract new customers.
Good deals are out there
Some recent great deals Keyes has found include Italy for $465 for summer 2023, Greece for $399 roundtrip, and Spain for $379 roundtrip from all over the U.S.
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