As you know from my Flying like a pro article series, I am an expert in getting the best flight deals, booking cheap flights, and getting flight upgrades for free.
Today, I’m inviting you on board to learn all there is to know about flying business class. You will find out what is business class, how much a business class flight costs on average, if that extra comfort is worth the extra money, and what is the difference between business class and first class.
Don’t worry: since The Travel Bunny is a budget travel blog, I’ll also give you a few tips on how to get cheap business-class tickets! So let’s talk about business class flights!
What is business class on a plane?
On a commercial aircraft, there’s a class of service known as business class. It emerged as the main means of transportation for long-haul international business travel, and eventually, it became so popular that several airlines completely replaced their first-class cabins with a top-tier business-class offering. On other carriers, it falls between first class and economy or premium economy class.
Additionally, the business class offers the widest selection of goods. In Europe, business class seats frequently resemble basic economy class seats, but in a curtained area at the front of the aircraft, with distinct onboard amenities and a middle seat that is always guaranteed to be unoccupied. Airlines change to larger aircraft for longer trips and provide their long-haul business class service, however, this varies per airline.
In the USA, business class seats are available on the long-haul international flights offered by US airlines. There are various variations between first-class and premium cabins on domestic flights. Some US airlines refer to the premium cabin service they provide on foreign short- and medium-haul flights as a business class even though it is quite comparable to domestic first class.
Outside of North America and Europe, short-haul business class resembles domestic first class in the US.
What does flying business class give you?
There are rare exceptions, but the price of business-class tickets is generally all-inclusive. But to be more specific, let’s have a closer look at the main advantages of flying business class:
Check-in & security checks that can be completed faster
Business class passengers refer to a dedicated check-in desk at the airport. The procedure is quick and painless since the queue is rarely long because aircrafts generally have a small number of seats in business class.
You have the right to one additional checked-in luggage at the airport, just because you’re a business class traveler. And your baggage will exit the plane first and get quickly on the baggage claim belt at your destination.
The waiting time decreases even further for those flying business class with the priority line at the security check. All of that is to leave you more time to enjoy the coveted business lounge!
Business lounge access
One of the best advantages of flying business class must be access to the business lounge. It’s the best place to be to unwind in between flights, dine, drink, use a better WiFi connection than what’s provided around the rest of the airport, and even have a shower or enjoy a massage.
Some corporate lounges are enormous, and it will take you a while just to find where you can leave your carry-on. Others are great works of art in terms of design.
Plenty of space for your carry-on bag
The nicest part about business class flights might be that you never need to worry if you’ll still have space left for your carry-on. Besides the spacious overhead compartment, you also have a dedicated area in front of your seat to store anything you may need for the length of the journey, including your shoes.
Seats that are comfortable and normally recline to lie-flat
Probably the biggest difference between business class and economy class is represented by the seating and the amount of space available to passengers. The economy seats are crammed together, and the chairs barely recline if at all. It makes traveling extremely exhausting, especially if you need a certain amount of comfort to sleep on a plane.
Business class offers fully reclining chairs so spacious that they resemble a little bed. You also get a wonderful comforter and a comfy cushion with it, so you can rest easy.
Plenty of airlines feature seats that convert to beds, but that doesn’t mean all do. SeatGuru can help you determine if your flight/aircraft has them or if they offer seats that profoundly recline/tilt instead.
Amenity kits for business class passengers
On lengthy flights, several airlines provide business class passengers with amenity packs. As soon as you enter the business class cabin, you’ll notice a wonderful amenity set at your place. This normally includes everything you’ll need to refresh during the journey. You can expect toothbrush & paste, moisturizer, compression socks, slippers, eye mask, ear plugs, and many other nice perks to make your flight more comfortable.
Wi-Fi access to stay connected
The availability of WiFi on board enhances the experience during your business class flight. It won’t be the fastest connection, but it is adequate for basic business emails or communicating over the most popular instant messaging apps.
Food that tastes and looks better
When flying business class, you’re provided with a full gourmet meal. Upon boarding, you’ll get to select one of the numerous entrées available on the menu. Many airlines also have pre-order options that let customers select their entrée before boarding.
By mealtime, the staff has arrived to open your tray table, and then shortly returned with a large selection of treats. And then the real food arrives, on real plates, and on a tray coated with linen.
Business class passengers can drink alcohol for free, and they frequently have access to a larger range of premium brands than those offered in economy class.
Better on-board entertainment
Long hauls are not just tiring – they can also be quite boring. Some travelers bring their tablets for movies on the plane, while others bring along books, crossword puzzles, and other items. However, many passengers use the entertainment available on board. Unfortunately, economy class seats come with small screens that are very close to your face and have an annoying glare preventing one from enjoying or even following the movie they wanted to watch.
When it comes to the business cabin, the screens are enormous and well separated from the seats. In addition, they hand out noise-canceling headphones for a more immersive experience when watching films.
Some airlines, such as Emirates and Turkish, provide business class passengers paying full fares with complimentary chauffeured airport transfers both before and after the flight. This blurs the difference between first class and business class even more.
What is the difference between business class and first class?
The first class is the next level up from business class. Airlines frequently provide both first class and business class on the same aircraft for lengthy international trips. In general, flying business class provides a noticeably greater amount of personal space and onboard facilities than economy class, but it is not always lavish.
First class is designed to offer more personal space and facilities than business class. It’s also exclusive enough to be appropriately referred to be a luxurious experience. The ticket fee includes transportation and the seats are like a tiny bedrooms with a small beds to relax on long-haul flights. Some flight companies even provide first-class customers with restrooms that include a shower.
As expected, tickets for first class seats cost considerably more than those for business class.
How much does it cost to fly business class?
To cut a long tale short, cheap business class tickets are 3-4 times more expensive than economy class flights. However, the price can be up to 10 times higher!
Prices are often the highest on the longest flights, when business class seats may be in great demand. Business class flight tickets to fly over the Atlantic are most expensive in winter, outside of peak travel times in the Northern hemisphere. Winter transatlantic flights typically have entirely full business cabins but nearly empty economy cabins.
In contrast, business class cabins are almost always empty and economy class seats are nearly full throughout the summer, and the costs reflect this trend, especially in July and August when most Europeans are on vacation.
Over the holidays, the demand for business class seats often decreases, but airlines regularly make up for it by rearranging flights to capitalize on the fluctuations in demand.
Is it worth it to fly business class?
I must say that I don’t see the value of flying business class on short trips. But it’s absolutely something to think about if your travel is six hours or more.
You should also think about flying business class if you’re traveling to another continent for a meeting that will start soon after you land and you need to be well rested; if you can only fall asleep while lying down; if you’re particularly tall and can’t fit in the cramped seats in economy class; if you’re going on your honeymoon; and, most importantly, if money is not an object.
How to get cheap business-class tickets
Cheap and business class are not two terms that normally go together, but there’s still some hope. All you need is some pixie dust (or a lot of points and miles) and spontaneity when you locate a fantastic bargain to find cheap business-class tickets.
Use flight aggregators to search for deals on business-class airfare.
Search engines like Google Flights, Momondo, and Skyscanner can be used to find the best rates for business class flights. If you’re flexible enough, you can eventually find an excellent flight deal. You can also try the same thing directly on the official airline websites.
Remember that although airlines do occasionally offer discounts on their business class seats, it’s highly unlikely that these prices would ever be considered “cheap.” Instead, they might be a significant discount on the standard cost.
For instance, the sale price for a business class ticket from Los Angeles to Paris that typically costs around $3,000 might be close to $2,000. Despite not being what most people would consider inexpensive, that represents a significant cost saving.
Purchase a business class ticket using points and miles.
The cheapest way to book business class flights is to use the points on your credit card or your airline miles. Although the number of points required to book a business class seat varies, you might be able to do it for as few as 25,000 points. It’s a lot like the cost of a ticket in cash – the value of your points can change often.
Frugal Flyer and other similar resources can help you start gathering points, compare cards to obtain the best signup bonuses to accrue miles, and shop wisely to travel more for less.
Prices for business class upgrades often decrease as the flight’s departure date approaches. If the company still has a lot of business class seats left, your chances of obtaining a cheap business class upgrade are substantially higher.
Book a flight in economy and pay with points or money to upgrade.
If you don’t have enough points to reserve a business class seat at the time of booking, you can choose to fly in main economy class and, if an upgrade is available, use your points to get there.
A couple of warnings: first, confirm award availability before purchasing the ticket you intend to upgrade; second, make sure you purchase a fare class that accepts upgrades. Some upgrades, such as basic economy, are not available, not even those bought with money or points.
If there are multiple open business class seats on a trip as the departure date approaches, the airline frequently offers an upgrade for sale at a discounted price. You could see the choice when you check in online, or you might get an email in advance.
If neither occurs, you can always inquire at the boarding gate or the check-in desk. Occasionally, you can upgrade to business class at the last minute for a very low price.
Purchase an economy ticket and bid for a seat upgrade.
The ability to bid to upgrade to a higher price class is offered by several airlines, such as Norwegian Air, Iberia, and Icelandair. Normally, the airline will notify you through email if you are qualified, but you may also check your airline’s policy and use your confirmation code to determine your qualification and submit your bid.
The airline will often include a minimum bid on the bidding page, a suggested price that is more likely to be approved, and information on when you’ll learn whether your bid was accepted.
You’ll need to enter your card information in order to submit your bid. You will be charged right away if your offer is approved. You typically place separate bids for the outbound and return flights. The bid is a new, additional amount that you are open to paying for the upgrade.
Verify the actual cost of the business seats on your flight before placing a bid. You’ll have a better chance of getting your bid accepted if you offer around 30% or 20% less.
Be lucky enough to uncover error fares.
Mistake fares are the holy grail of low-cost flights, and they occur when an airline inadvertently rates a journey substantially cheaper than intended—up to 90% off regular pricing. When that happens with a business class ticket, it may become as inexpensive as, if not cheaper than, a standard economy ticket.
There is no trick to finding mistake fares – you just have to be lucky or conduct dozens of flight searches every day! But keep in mind that error fares for flying business class are uncommon.
The secret to getting a mistake fare is to act quickly. Most mistake fares endure no more than a day, and others vanish within hours. As soon as the airline realizes there’s an error fare circulating, they will amend the mistake and, in some cases, will refuse to honor the mistake fare.
Featured image via depositphotos.com
After discovering business class flights, learn more about flying in style
Why you should fly private on your next trip
How to get a first class upgrade – secret tips & strategies
How to have the best flight yet (Infographic)