Do you want to cut down on travel expenses without compromising your comfort? If YES, here are 20 guaranteed ways to travel business class cheap and FREE.
Nothing beats comfort in travel and a lot of air travelers (especially those that cannot afford it) always dream of flying in that ultimate luxury that describes business class.
Table of Content
What is a Business Class?
Business class is a travel class that is available in almost all airplanes. Usually, the business class is a middle class between the first class and the economy class, but in some airplanes, the first class has been eliminated thus making business the highest level of service that they offer.
These days, flying business class does not come cheap and the price difference between it and economy goes beyond extra leg space. Business classes now boast of good and comfortable seating arrangements, well prepared food that come in Chinas and real cutlery (unlike the disposable type that is available at economy), drinks, ground services and much more.
The main point to keep in mind when trying to get cheap flight tickets in general is that you will have to be flexible. You will have to be flexible on the dates you are flying, time you are flying, destination you are flying to, the airport you take off from et al. When you are flexible with the aforementioned parameters and more, then you have a higher chance of finding a cheap business class flight.
Is It Possible to Travel Business Class FREE?
Though there are many ways one can improve his or her chances of being upgraded to business class or first class after having purchased an economy ticket, but there is just one way one can be able to fly first class completely free of charge, and that way is through accumulating airline miles.
But the question now remains, how can you accumulate enough airline miles that would enable you fly business class for free?
What are Air Miles?
Air miles are basically points you collect when you buy certain goods or services and these points can be redeemed to pay for air travel. Air miles are issued by credit card companies affiliated with the airlines. The holder of the card earns air miles with every purchase he or she makes.
How to Accumulate Miles to Fly First Class
There are many ways one can accumulate the tons of air miles that can be enough to fund a business class ticket, and some of them include;
a. Sign up for a branded credit card: All united states‘ carriers have a branded credit card that gives their customers a 25,000-30,000 points when they sign up for the card and make a purchase. This strategy is made possible because the credit card industry is extremely competitive. As a result, many credit card companies are willing to offer their patrons huge frequent flyer mile bonuses if they sign up for their cards.
A person is allowed to get as many cards as he or she can manage in order to accumulate the miles more quickly, but the cards sometimes carry fees that, so you should only sign up for as much as you can handle. Typically, experts recommend between one and two cards so the holder can track them better.
Regardless of how many cards you are comfortable with getting, these frequent flyer mile bonuses are the best way to fly for free because you can use frequent flyer miles to book flights anywhere and at anytime. Another bonus with the cards is that you can easily cancel them if you don’t need them anymore.
b. Watch out for deals: Airlines do frequently churn out deals that earn you thousands of miles at a go. To take good advantage of these deals, you need to sign up for all the airline mailing lists and their newsletters. British Airways has at one time offered a card that gave 100,000 miles for signing up, or you can get 1,000 miles for watching a demo on American Airlines at a certain period; the deals just abound. So be sure to look out for these deals and take full advantage of them.
c. Shop at their airline partner stores: Airlines are most times affiliated with all the big stores like Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Target, John Lewis, Net-a-Porter, Selfridges etc. Shopping at those preferred stores will earn you 2 to 4 miles per dollar spent on items, and sometimes you get even more. If you spend 1,000 dollars a month, you can earn up to 3,000 miles just by shopping at these stores and doing nothing else. The amazing thing here is that their products don’t cost extra, making it a good opportunity to take advantage of.
d. Fly, fly and fly: Airlines sometimes get into price wars and to stand out from the competition, they often launch double or triple mile offers. These offers entail that you can take a quick and cheap flight and gain triple miles for use in future. This is a tactic that frequent fliers use to accrue lots of miles really quickly.
Typically, flying is the slowest way to accumulate air miles, but these special offers give you double or triple miles on a very cheap flight, which you can cash in for that free business class ticket (that is when you accumulate enough). The key is to frequent the airline websites in order to get updated on such offers.
How Do You Fly First Class With your Flyer Miles?
Cashing in your flyer miles is just as simple as paying for your ticket. You just need to call up the airline, redeem your miles, and fly anywhere. So it goes like this;
Apply for a new credit card that has a big frequent flyer mile bonus and accumulate the miles in as many ways as you can. When it is time to redeem your air miles, you must select an eligible flight. Some air miles programs have blackout dates. You cannot redeem your miles for travel during this time, and these dates are usually around major holidays when air travel is at its highest.
Once you find a suitable flying period, you can then book that dream trip you have been waiting to embark on long ago in the comforts of luxury.
What Has your Credit Score Got to Do With it?
Typically, before you can qualify to use the credit card travel rewards strategy, you must have a healthy credit score; and if you want to run more than one cards in order to get lots of frequent flyer miles, then you should probably have a credit score that is above 720.
But no matter what your score is, this strategy will only work for you if you pay off your balance in full each month and carry no debt on your new cards. It doesn’t matter how good your history is, if you get a new credit card and start piling on debt, then your credit score will suffer and this travel strategy would be useless to you. It can even plunge you into more debt if you are not careful.
As mentioned earlier, business class tickets can be quite pricey. In fact, most business class tickets cost about 5 times or more of the price of the regular ticket (that is economy). However, in a lot of cases, they are not necessarily 5 times better. Here are a few tips to help you get business class tickets without having to break the bank.
20 Guaranteed Ways to Travel Business Class Cheap
1. Keep being loyal: even though the loyal customer programs that exist for frequent travelers nowadays are not as fantastic as those that existed before, there is still no denying that being a loyal user of a particular airline counts a lot in the long run. At times, when the other classes are oversold, but there are unoccupied seats in the business class, loyal customers will be first considered for an upgrade before anyone else.
2. Check your seat: at times, the seat you choose in a flight may be defective, in that the seat itself might be broken or that the seat belt is non-functional. If you discover this in a flight that is fully packed, there may be nowhere else to go than to upgrade you to business class. Also, this can apply if the entertainment system in your seat is not operational or your seat does not recline properly.
3. Take the credit card advantage: by using credit cards wisely, you can harness their power to get practically free flights across the globe without having to go into debt. Whenever you sign up for a credit card there is always a signup bonus- that is, some initiative to get you to sign up and get their cards. It is advisable to go for cards that offer you miles whenever you sign up.
You should also always checkout the minimum spend for each credit card. The minimum spend basically specifies that you have a certain amount of time to spend a minimum amount of money or else you will not get the sign up bonus. So, if the sign up bonus is 50,000 miles and you have to spend $3,000 in 90 days, if you do not spend up to this amount on the card within that given period, you will have to forfeit the 50,000 miles bonus.
You should note that you can only get the signup bonus once, per person, per lifetime. So, if you should make any mistakes or you don’t spend the minimum amount, then you have wasted that opportunity. Therefore, if you know that you will not be able to meet up with the requirements, then you may as well not get the card.
With the miles you have amassed, you can use it to book a flight ticket for almost next to nothing or you can upgrade from one class to another for free of charge.
4. Buy the points: there are many websites and individuals that buy and sell points. But be careful when doing this because some airlines do not allow it. Buying points from unauthorized sources could lead to a loss in miles you already have or even inability to use the purchased miles.
Ideally, you should purchase points from the airlines themselves. Usually, miles can be purchased at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile but the prices reduce when the airlines offer promos. With the points you have purchased, you can use then to pay less for the business tickets when you eventually want to purchase them.
5. Fly when business travelers are not flying: usually, most business travelers travel within the week as opposed to travelling on weekends. And as such, it is very normal that you may not see a lot of people in the business suits on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.
What this implies is that more business class seats are empty and as such are available for the taking. Also, people do not like travelling early in the morning or late at night with flights, so there is a very high chance of getting cheaper prices for flights at those times.
6. Watch for an open seat: if your economy seat is towards the front area of the plane, then you may want to check if there are open business class seats. If there is an available seat, you can ask a flight attendant if you can move there.
This works better with the flight attendant if you have taken your time to strike up a conversation with him or her when you first boarded the aircraft. As obvious as this may sound, it works at times. An old saying goes that if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
7. Upgrade at check-in: instead of out rightly buying a business class ticket, you can opt for an upgrade at the check-in. If there are some seats that are not filled up and thus available, the airline will be willing to offer them to a customer at a discounted rate during the online check in. You can also ask the gate attendant about the price of an upgrade and get it at that point because it will definitely be cheaper there than if you have already bought business class tickets initially.
8. Come early or late- checking in very early or late for a flight can also be quite advantageous. For example, if passengers need to be moved to a different cabin for operational reasons, the airline will already have this information beforehand.
So, if you check in early, you may be lucky to get moved to the business coach. Likewise at the tail end of check-in, airlines may discover that a particular flight has been over booked because more passengers turned up than they had previously expected. In this scenario, they may be willing to move you to the business class.
9. Sign up for alerts on price drops: there are some websites that help provide information on the best prices for flights. These websites provide fare tracker alerts than can help to notify travelers on price drops that they can take advantage of should the situation arise.
10. Follow airlines on social media: social media is a very powerful tool that a lot of businesses make use of including airlines. Often times, some airlines will use their social media accounts to present special last minute offers to their customers. These deals most often require you to take a quick action as they do not last for a long period of time.
11. Don’t book for a business class ticket over the phone: most flights usually charge some extra fees (about $50 and above) for booking for a flight over the phone. Alternatively, before you book for flight over the phone, you should endeavor to ask if it attracts additional fees and the price of the fees.
12. Bid for an upgrade: in order to fill up business class seats, it is not uncommon for a lot of airlines to offer business class seats up for auction. This auction will allow the winner to upgrade his or her economy ticket to a business class ticket at a very affordable price. The strategy that the airlines use to gauge the winner of a bid is somewhat secret as the airlines do not disclose the results of the flight bidding process.
13. Consult a business class specialist: instead of just booking your tickets directly through the airline’s website, you can first consult a price aggregator like Skyscanner and then compare the price it lists with what is obtainable on the airline’s website. Then, you can speak to a flight expert and respectable business class specialist consolidator who more often than not may have cheaper rates for business class tickets than what is available online.
14. Book sales ticket: a lot of airlines usually offer sales from time to time. To get in the know, you should add yourself to their mailing list so that you will be notified in the event that there is a sale coming up. For example, Qatar Airways has been known to offer a 2 for 1 sale where your companion can get to travel for free if you book a business class ticket.
15. Book the unusual route: some airports offer cheaper air tickets than others and as such a potential passenger can take advantage of this disparity in price. For instance, it has been known that Etihad Airways is cheaper out of continental airports than out of London when flying to the same destination.
16. Book flights at unpopular seasons: school holidays should be avoided for short-haul routes whiles flying into major hubs like New York, Hong Kong but school holidays tend to offer a cheaper long-haul advantage.
17. Tell the airline that you will be interested in an offer from them: in the event that your flight suffers a delay, gets cancelled or is overbooked, you can tell the agents or representative of the airline that you will be happy to wait for a day or two to travel if they will be gracious enough to give you an incentive. For example, if you booked an economy class ticket, the airline may offer to cover your hotel and also upgrade your ticket to business class in the latter flight.
18. Leave your return date unspecified: In times past, buying a one-way ticket cost more than just buying a return ticket, but in recent times, this is not the case. Instead of booking a return ticket when you are going, just get a one way ticket. A lot of airlines charge exorbitant fees if you require them to change your flight date so rather than get a return date that you may change due to factors beyond your control, leave the booking of the return ticket till when you are sure.
19. Use coupon codes: while there is no coupon that will offer you an all expense flight ticket, some websites offer coupon codes for travelers. The coupons offer discounts to flights booked through their websites.
20. Use a different location to book a flight: as surprising as this may sound, the location that you book a flight in can affect its price. If you change your residence to that of the airlines home country, you will find out that some airlines will offer cheaper prices for exactly the same route. For instance, booking from Expedia.co.jp- the Japanese version of the site instead of Expedia.com can yield lower prices.
In conclusion, it is always advisable to dress sharply and also to be polite and courteous to airline officials. Dress like you belong to the business class cabin and you just get there.
It is no secret that airlines overbook spaces in anticipation that some passengers will not show up and when they eventually do, some economy class holders may get upgraded to business class. Dressing the part can come in handy here. Furthermore, you are more likely to get an upgrade if you are travelling alone as opposed to being in the company of friends or family members.