Lets start off with this – these are real tips I have never read anywhere else.
After traveling to hundreds of cities over (almost) every continent i’ve realized that there are just some flights that are WAY too long for economy, or even premium economy. Combine that with the fact that people are getting stuffed into smaller spaces (stand up seats!) and Business class starts looking less like a luxury and more like a necessity.
Over the past 20 years i’ve amassed a lot of miles in the air, and to cut straight to the point – i’ve listed my tried and trued methods of getting to lay out flat and get some good shuteye while you’re flying the *cramped skies, WITHOUT paying the premium $$ that Business class will often cost you.
- The Reverse Route: I’m going to start with the best one first. This is damn near UNKNOWN, but it ONLY works for those who are traveling to or from the US, and if you plan ahead. If you buy a ticket that ORIGINATES in another country and then returns back to that country (outside of the US), you can find Business class fares that are more than half off than those that originate from within the US. Your next question is probably, well.. how do I get there in the first place? If you plan this correctly and get a one way outbound, you can always move your “return” flight (the one leaving the US) to a later point in time. The beauty of Business class is that you can cancel or move your return flight without penalty the majority of the time.
- The Arbitrage Route: This is very similar to the previous one, but may not offer as much savings, but many times if you find an alternative departing or returning city you may find cheaper prices. This is often due to geo-economic conditions. For example, if you need to fly to Paris from Los Angeles, you might want to also check how much it costs to start in Denver, or San Francisco, or even New York, and then get a separate shorter fare that is cheaper to get to that “starting” destination. And look at the bright side of it – you get to experience a new city at the same time (and rack up some frequent flier miles). Use this tool to check multiple departure cities – https://matrix.itasoftware.com/
- The Last Minute: If you purchase a ticket in economy or premium economy, when you get to the check-in desk your best bet is to ask the ticket agent how much it costs to upgrade. Most airlines would rather make some money than upgrade their frequent flyers or leave seats unsold. While some of you may know about this method, what you probably don’t know is that the ticket agents are allowed to BARGAIN. Yup, whatever price they start with, go ahead and cut that in half… Who knew that flying Business on an Airline wasn’t that far off from buying spices at the bazaar?
- The Guaranteed “Cheap” Fares: There’s a few airlines that tend to carry the cheapest Business class tickets. Yes, they may not offer 12 course meals ala Singapore Airlines, or service equivalent to a Four Seasons hotel, but hey.. if you’re like me you probably just want lots of free alcohol, decent food, and a lay flat seat. For Europe, I highly recommend Norwegian Airlines and their Business class product. Book ahead and you’ll find prices to be inline with economy on legacy airlines like Delta. Russia’s Aeroflot is also a great Business class product at an affordable price, along with LOT airlines. Not flying to Poland or Russia? These airlines will only require you do a quick layover in their respective countries. Or fly one of these “budget” Business class fares to a larger hub city and take the shorter portion of the route using another airline – remember, everything in Europe is pretty close anyway. If you’re flying to Asia, try out China Eastern, China Southern, Air China, or Xiamen Airlines. They’re government sponsored airlines so they’re able to compete at cheaper prices for Business class while offering new planes and quite a bit of luxury for the price (and don’t worry, they’re ranked as some of the safest airlines in the world).
- Find an Insider: Contrary to belief, the cheapest fares are NOT on the internet. As a matter of fact, travel agents STILL have the best rates, and know how to game the system with their connections. To do this, figure out where you want to go to, and find an “ethnic” local travel agent that has access to aggregated fares. This is where they agree to purchase a number of tickets from an airline and as a result have a reduced rate. Yea, this is one of those things where the Internet did NOT win it all.
- The Fifth Freedom Route: This one is listed elsewhere, but since you’re reading I thought i’d mention it here. Airlines are allowed to fly routes outside of their home country if the plane previously was flying a route within their country. So in many cases you’ll find Business class fares for the price of economy on these routes. For example – Emirates Airlines flies a route from Sri Lanka’s main airport to the Maldives, and an economy fare on the widebody Business class can cost as little as $200 each way! To score these, just remember to look for Business class even when you think it’s impossible to get one without selling a kidney!
Let me know in the comments what you all think, and if you have some other tips that I haven’t mentioned. Happy traveling and enjoy those lay flat seats and free champagne!