Travel expenses add up quickly, and the two largest expenses for most travelers are airfare and lodging. If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, it’s tempting to stick to economy seats when you fly, as these are much less expensive than seats in business class and first class. Going with the cheapest option isn’t always the best idea, though, especially if you can score a deal on a business class seat.
What to Expect When Flying on Business Class
The business class experience varies from airline to airline, but each airline tends to offer similar features. At the airport, you will likely have a separate check-in area and security line, both of which can save you quite a bit of time.
After getting through security, you can access your airline’s business class lounge, which will have free drinks and snacks, TVs and possibly free Wi-Fi. Some lounges even include showers and sleeping areas. Keep in mind that you usually can’t access an airport lounge at your destination airport, only your departure airport.
The biggest benefit of flying business class is the seating. Seats are much larger than they are in economy class and recline quite a bit. Some airlines offer flatbed seats that recline up to 180 degrees, and even the seats that don’t recline as much still allow you to lie down and sleep comfortably. Additionally, the extra floor space leaves ample room for you to stretch your legs on long flights.
You have much better food and drink options when flying business class. Drinks are typically free and you can order your meal directly from a menu. Free Wi-Fi is generally available, and audio/video streaming services are generally available.
When the flight lands, you’ll get off the plane much quicker since you’ll be doing so before everyone in economy class. There may be a customs line specifically for business class travelers as well.
Different Types of Services Offered
Airlines have three types of flight service classes available – economy, business class, and first class. It’s usually only long-haul international flights that have all three service classes available. Short-haul flights and domestic flights in the United States have economy and first class seating, with first class being comparable to business class on an international flight.
As the least-expensive option, economy class is also the most lacking. You won’t have access to airport lounges and you’ll be waiting in lines with everyone else to get through security and board the plane. Seats are cramped, entertainment options are more limited, and the meal options aren’t near the same quality as the higher service classes.
What about the difference between business and first class? Flying first class on an international flight is definitely more luxurious than flying business class. Airlines work hard to provide a top-of-the-line experience for first class travelers. It’s not uncommon for airlines to provide first class travelers with extremely lavish foods and complimentary champagne.
As good as the first class experience can be, business class tends to provide the best balance of comfort and affordability. You can still get to your destination well-rested when you fly business class, without needing to pay a fortune. You’re also more likely to find deals for business class than you are for first class.
Is It Possible for Business Class to Be Affordable?
Business class is obviously much better than economy, but the problem is that it also costs much more. If an economy ticket costs about $400 to $800, you can expect a business class ticket on the same flight to cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000.
This cost difference is the reason why so many travelers stick to economy for all their flights, and if your company isn’t covering your flight, it’s hard to justify the cost of business class. Fortunately, you don’t need to pay that much for business class, and many travelers get business class tickets at significant discounts. If you follow the right strategy to purchase your tickets, you can be one of those lucky travelers who flies business class without spending an arm and a leg on your seat.
Ways of Finding Business Class Flight Deals
If you want to get the best prices on business class seats, then you need to check airline deals often. Sign up for deal alerts with a travel booking site. Many sites let you set alerts for specific routes, which makes it easy to monitor prices for the trip you want to take.
Airlines often release last-minute deals with heavily discounted premium cabin seats. If you’re flexible regarding when and where you fly, you could take advantage. These deals usually don’t last long, so the best way to catch them is by signing up for alerts with the airline and following its social media accounts. Many airlines often post their deals on Twitter first, making it one of the best social networks for finding flight deals.
Adjusting your trip parameters and trying different options can often make a huge difference in the ticket prices you see. Travelers often make the mistake of punching in their travel dates and the route they want, and then going with the cheapest option. You may find business class tickets at a much lower price if you change your arrival or departure date by one or two days. Weekend flights are usually much more expensive than flights towards the middle of the week. Instead of just looking for round-trip tickets, see if you can save money by purchasing multiple one-way tickets.
Remember that the most direct route isn’t always the cheapest route. In some cases, you’ll get a better deal on your business class flight if you add a connection somewhere in-between your departure point and destination. For example, instead of flying straight from Australia to Europe, you could pay less if you flew from Australia to Asia, and then to Europe.
Using Travel Rewards to Book Business Class Tickets
While you can get low prices on business class tickets, often the best way to book isn’t with cash, but with frequent flyer miles. The difference in cost between service classes isn’t nearly as much when you book with miles as it is booking with cash. With the American AAdvantage program, one-way economy tickets typically cost between 12,500 and 30,000 miles. One-way business class tickets typically cost between 25,000 and 50,000 miles.
How can you get those frequent flyer miles? The easiest way is to open a travel rewards credit card. You can choose a credit card affiliated with a specific airline or a card which has multiple airlines as transfer partners, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Put all your usual spending on the card and pay off your balance every month to quickly build your miles. Travel reward cards also usually have signup bonus offers that allow you to earn plenty of miles if you hit certain spending minimums within the first few months that you have the card.
On longer trips, you should fly business class whenever possible. You’ll have a much more comfortable flight and arrive at your destination feeling good, not sore and exhausted. Stay on the lookout for business class ticket deals, and start earning those frequent flyer miles so you can purchase your next ticket with rewards instead of cash.