We all agree that these days, it’s an uphill task to fly at the front of the plane without parting with some serious cash. Luckily you can use the following 9 travel hacking tips to fly in first or business class without having to break the bank. Here’s what you can do to get your hands on a cheap business class ticket.
1. Get a seat upgrade by bidding at an online auction
Sometimes airlines hold online auctions that enable economy class passengers to bid for upgrades to business and first class. This is usually necessitated by their desire to fill empty business class seats on a flight or even increase the level of competition against other airlines. Air Canada, for example, has an auction-style program which allows passengers to make a cash bid to upgrade their seats to premium economy or business class. They do this using a sliding scale system which sets a minimum and maximum amount. When passengers place their bids, a chart lets them know the strength of their offer and find out if they’re successful about 48 hours before departure.
2. Use Airline Loyalty Programs
Accumulating miles and points is one of the most common ways of getting a cheaper air ticket. Reward programs like Aeroplan make the process even easier by allowing you to transfer miles to tranfer miles to another Aeroplan member’s account. Points accrual can of course be done on purchases other than airline tickets, which are then redeemed for flights.
3. Use Elite or Airline Credit Cards.
You can get travel rewards by signing up for credit cards, especially the elite travel cards which offer some highly lucrative deals. Cards such as American Express Gold, Platinum, and SPG offer anywhere between 25,000 to 50,000 points in sign up bonuses once you fulfil their minimum spend requirement; this is one of the best avenues to travel for free (or almost) through points redemption. Airlines like Alaska, Delta and United also use co-branded cards for a seamless transfer of points between different reward programs as well as the enjoyment of additional perks like priority check in and free checked bags.
4. By Upgrading at Check-In.
You can do this is by purchasing an upgradeable seat ticket or premium economy fare and then use your accumulated points/miles to get into first class/business class. The way the system works is if there are empty seats on the flight, airlines usually offer them to passengers for a discount during online check-in. To increase your chances of getting an upgrade it helps to be a member of your airline’s frequent flyer program. If you don’t mind risking it, you can always ask the gate attendant what the charges are for the upgrade. It could actually be cheaper than the reduced online rate.
5. Search Flight Aggregator Sites For Cheap Business And First Class Airfares
If you read my article on Best ways to find cheap flights and flight deals, then you’re well versed on the use of aggregator airline sites to search for the cheapest flights on any route in any class. Being flexible when it comes to travel dates means you can also benefit by flying to your chosen destination during the cheapest month for business class flights.
6. Use Business Class Consolidators
These are specialists that offer unpublished ticket discounts thanks to their connections to different airlines. They usually have pre-existing contracts with the airlines that enable them to offer premium airfares at a rate that is usually less than the normal market fare by 20% to 50%. If you decide to use a consolidator always ensure they are a reputable business in good standing – ideally a member of industry trade bodies such as IATA. Using consolidators is best done about a month or two before travel. It’s also wise to make your payments by credit card so that your insurance can kick in if something goes wrong.
7. Try Cheaper Departure Countries For Flights
The cost of a business or first class ticket can vary considerably depending on which country the flight originates. These discrepancies are normally brought about by factors like local economic conditions, foreign exchange rates or competition for foreign travellers among airlines. You can take advantage of this fact to get some brilliant ticket discounts by kicking off your trip from one of the cheaper airfare countries.
8. By Flying with lesser Known Airlines
You can also benefit from cut-price business class fares when by using obscure airlines which often use lower fares to put the squeeze on the major carriers. Of course the standards at these less conventional carriers can vary quite a bit when it comes to seats, service and ground facilities, but as the old adage goes – you never know until you try!
9. Subscribing to Airline Newsletters
It pays dividends to subscribe to airline newsletters so that you’re always in the know whenever there are upcoming business class deals. These are often released by airlines to their loyal subscribers first. Newsletter subscriptions can help you learn about deals like ‘companion flies free’ or earlybird special fares that come hand in hand with package tours. Airlines have also turned to social media to advertise short-sale deals so following your favourite airline online is another way to get your hands on a cheaper flight.