A glass of champagne upon boarding and lounge access before departure. Outstanding food and service. As you travel across the ocean, a lie-flat seat may be adjusted to become a comfy bed. Business class is all about this. However, if you’ve ever searched for business class tickets on Google Flights or with your preferred airline, you are aware that these seats can easily cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. Are tickets for business class available at a discount? And anyhow, how do people accrue and utilize the points to reserve these seats?
We’ll tell you what: It is possible. This guide will help you understand how to fly business class, whether your goal is to find a lower cost when booking with cash or to find out which points and miles will get you a nice seat at the front of the aircraft.
Why Is the Cost of Business Class So High?
At Thrifty Traveler, we search the internet for flight offers all day, every day. These include round-trip tickets to Europe for $300 or less, inexpensive flights to Hawaii and return for under $200, and even round-trip tickets to Chile for $63 or less. We find them all day, every day. The sad fact is that these kinds of incredibly low-cost business class flights aren’t available very frequently if you’re hoping to go in first class.
Airlines that wish to maintain their pricing power must prioritize corporate and high-paying travel. Hence, airlines would much rather have vacant business class seats than have them filled at a lower price, even though they will unload empty seats back into economy by selling them for significantly less than usual. Because of this, business class tickets are typically sold for $3,000, $5,000, or much more each round trip. Such prices are all too typical.
Look for Cheap Business Class Flights
Here’s an example from recently: Round-trip tickets to Chile on American Airlines in lie-flat seats cost $1,244. Back in May, we emailed this offer to Detroit, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers. Amazing deals on business class flights to Europe have also been seen. Take this offer, which flies business class to Spain from any U.S. city for less than $1,700 total on British Airways or Iberia.
If you schedule it properly, it’s simpler to locate fares like this one, which will have you flying across the pond in business class for less than $2,000. With every new route that JetBlue adds to Europe, such as this one to Dublin (DUB), Edinburgh (EDI), and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), we’ve seen lower business class tickets.
Board a Fast Mistake Fare!
This is the point at which things start to get pretty good—and really affordable. Error fares can bring you anywhere on a lie-flat seat for (literally) cents on the dollar, but even a significantly reduced business class fare won’t come close to economy rates. The term “mistake fares” accurately describes the situation where an airline sells tickets at a lower price than intended due to a currency conversion error or omitting a zero while entering prices.
It’s the ultimate technique to get the best bargain on business class tickets and is considered the holy grail of flying deals. Even more uncommon are these error fares. however, they’re amazing when they do occur.
To begin, let us discuss one of the greatest error stories ever told. Back in 2018, Hong Kong Airlines made the unintentional decision to offer round-trip business class tickets for $600 or less to a few Asian locations, including Bangkok (BKK), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), and Shanghai (PVG). These tickets should have cost closer to $6,000 apiece, but obviously someone at the airline missed a zero.
Use Your Points and Miles to Make Reservations for Low-Cost Business Class Travel
If you want to know how to locate affordable business class tickets, you need to have a stash of points and miles, no matter how you use them. By using tools like the Capital One Purchase Eraser or the Chase travel site, you may use credit card points to take a cheap flight and make it free.
Using points and miles, however, is especially beneficial when redeeming for first class and business class tickets. Because these tickets are usually three or four times more expensive than flying economy, but not three or four times as many miles, it’s the best method to gain disproportionate value. Additionally, utilizing points is by far the simplest and most affordable way to guarantee a business-class seat, anywhere you wish to travel.
There are thousands of methods to book business class tickets using miles, thanks to the hundreds of airlines that provide business class seats, the various mileage programs offered by the airlines, and airline alliances and partnerships that let you use the miles from one airline to book on another. Some, nonetheless, are superior to others.
We’ve reduced it by concentrating on a few of these most affordable sweet spots when utilizing miles. If you do it correctly, the cost will not be significantly higher than that of a regular economy ticket.
34K miles to Spain in business class
This method isn’t limited to getting a business class seat. It’s just among the greatest offers available in the points and miles marketplace. Iberia Avios can be used to book business class flights between the United States and Spain for the same number of miles as usual economy flights. Yes, a lie-flat seat to Europe can be had for just 34,000 miles each way, or 68,000 miles total.
How come it’s so cheap? Flying from the East Coast or Chicago, Iberia offers a really sweet spot because of its distance-based award system, which states that the fewer miles required, the shorter the travel. This means that nonstop flights from Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD), Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD), Boston (BOS), and New York City (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) will only cost you roughly $140 in surcharges in addition to 34,000 miles each way.
TAP Portugal Airlines
Lisbon One-Way Fare: $35K
With Avianca LifeMiles, another mileage currency that’s simple to accrue owing to credit card transfer partners, you can travel a different route into Europe for just 1,000 extra miles.
For example, a business class ticket from the United States to Europe typically costs 63,000 miles on LifeMiles. However, there is a huge bonus: a round-trip ticket in business class on TAP Air Portugal costs just 35,000 miles. This route goes to Lisbon (LIS). Being limited to the New York City (JFK) to Lisbon route, it’s a bit of a unicorn among LifeMiles’ offerings. It will cost you the full 63,000 miles to depart from neighboring Newark (EWR) and even to return to JFK.
Suites on Delta One for $50,000
Do you wish to board a Delta One Suite? You’re not by yourself—this is among the greatest business class seats available. And here’s how you go about it.
No, Delta SkyMiles aren’t being used by you. Delta frequently charges a one-way ticket worth at least 300,000 SkyMiles. Rather, you’re using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, which are another mileage currency that can be easily accrued through credit card point transfers and is offered by one of Delta’s close partners.
Best of all, Delta business class flights from the United States to Europe are only 50,000 miles each way when booked through Virgin Atlantic. I’m not kidding when I say that Delta charged 340,000 SkyMiles for the identical flight.
Japan Air or ANA
60K or 75K round-trip in business class to Japan!
Japan reopened to tourists in late 2022, having been closed for over three years. And getting there in lie-flat business class won’t be easier than these redemptions.
First, business class on Japan Airlines is among the greatest options for traveling to Tokyo. You’re in luck since it’s also one of the simplest redemptions to complete because American AAdvantage miles are simple to accrue and JAL business class reward availability is usually substantial. When you combine the two, all it takes is 60,000 AA miles to get a lie-flat seat to Japan!
Italy or Greece For 108K miles
We’re flying on some of the funkiest planes possible in business class to get back to Europe at a great price. Although Emirates is headquartered in Dubai (DXB), it also operates two fifth-freedom routes from the United States to Europe: one from Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH) and the other from New York City (JFK) to Milan (MXP). The best thing is that business class reservations on both of these trips can be made for a mere 108,000 miles per round trip!
Traveling to the Middle East for 70k
Best for last, of course. Both the seat and the method of utilizing American AAdvantage miles are our top choices for business class travel. The Qatar Airways Qsuites are the greatest in the world, starting with the opulent, private seats and ending with the best food and drink available. This is the one way to fly that’s better than any other.
Remarkably, for just 70,000 American miles each, you can reserve a nonstop Qsuite flight from the United States to Doha (DOH). In fact, you can begin your journey from your hometown airport using American services and go to Doha at the same cost. You may also go above and beyond by traveling 70,000 miles each way in Qsuites to the Maldives (MLE).