How to buy business class tickets?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
flyingaway
Posts: 1949
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 am

How to buy business class tickets?

Post by flyingaway » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:51 am

For international flights of more than 6 hours only.
If you buy a business class ticket with cash (not points), do you buy it in the first place, or do you buy an economy class seat and later upgrade it to the business class one?

gtd98765
Posts: 140
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:15 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by gtd98765 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:14 am

If you want to be sure you get a biz class seat you need to buy it that way at the beginning. While it may be possible to upgrade from economy to biz in the few days before the flight, it may also be possible that biz class is full and you are out of luck.

sambb
Posts: 2294
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by sambb » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:16 am

I usually buy. Upgrades are not easy to get often. Try emirates or qatar business for the best service and planes.

User avatar
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1527
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:26 am

In the past few years, I have sought upgrades on trans-continental, trans=Pacific, and Trans-Atlantic flights, usually starting a week or so before the flight. Nothing scientific about my experience but I have always managed to get an upgrade at way less than the original price at the time of my booking the steerage fare.

Last summer I was flying back from Madrid to JFK, the upgrade to business was $650 on top of a (1/2 of RT steerage fare) of $350, I think if I had tried to book the business class originally it was around $1400, (1/2 of RT).
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

TravelGeek
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:31 am

It really depends. I have bought business class fares outright when I came across a sufficiently good deal. I have upgraded many times with United Global Premier Upgrades (when I was 1K elite) and a few times with miles. I have bought many award business class seats with miles.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 8335
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:33 am

Look online at the airline's site and map out the flights you want to take. If plenty of seats are available on all flights, buy coach, then upgrade them using points. I've done this many times and it's been the only way I've been able to book 4 seats for my family together using points. Trying to book with just points has the airlines making it very difficult, like routing us from Boston to Chicago to Miami to Bogata, Columbia with an overnight, to Aruba. Buying coach, then upgrading got us non-stop Bos-AUA.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

ResearchMed
Posts: 7909
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:53 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:33 am
Look online at the airline's site and map out the flights you want to take. If plenty of seats are available on all flights, buy coach, then upgrade them using points. I've done this many times and it's been the only way I've been able to book 4 seats for my family together using points. Trying to book with just points has the airlines making it very difficult, like routing us from Boston to Chicago to Miami to Bogata, Columbia with an overnight, to Aruba. Buying coach, then upgrading got us non-stop Bos-AUA.
What airline?

And how does the $$ cost plus points compare to using points straightaway for J?

We've been getting J (or F) entirely with points, although we often us a service to help us, including finding F upgrades later.
The "cost" of the points in total is quite low. I wonder if doing what you do would be better. IF there is F, can you upgrade again from J? or is that sort of a dead-end?
J is fine for some long flights, but for ultra-long-haul (e.g. 14++ hours), we try *very* hard to get F.

The main reason we've needed to take one connection is that there isn't a non-stop with F from our airport in some of the international routes.

Thanks.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

TravelGeek
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:11 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:53 am
IF there is F, can you upgrade again from J? or is that sort of a dead-end?
Most airlines seem to have rules that you can’t upgrade an upgraded seat again. No double upgrades.

Also, any upgrade rules very much depend on the airline’s specific program. Many require co-pays with the miles. So you pay a base economy fare, a significant co-pay and a good chunk of miles. That isn’t then necessarily the best way to fly in comfort anymore.

The bottom line is that there isn’t one best way to buy a comfortable seat. It depends on airlines, partnerships, elite status, route, available mileage balance, tolerance for non-optimal routing, number of travelers, flexibility in travel dates, ...

I see this as part of my travel hobby. It’s like solving a puzzle. I can totally understand the appeal that award booking services have, though.

stan1
Posts: 6288
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by stan1 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:14 am

TravelGeek wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:11 am
It depends on airlines, partnerships, elite status, route, available mileage balance, tolerance for non-optimal routing, number of travelers, flexibility in travel dates, ...
And willingness to accept risk that you don't get an upgrade. If you are unwilling to fly in economy under any circumstances you would not want to wait until the last week hoping to get an upgrade.

TravelGeek
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:21 am

stan1 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:14 am
And willingness to accept risk that you don't get an upgrade. If you are unwilling to fly in economy under any circumstances you would not want to wait until the last week hoping to get an upgrade.
Very true. I have played and lost the upgrade lottery with United many times. Sometimes the upgrade cleared at the last minute, and once I was already firmly ensconced In by Economy Plus seat when the gate agent came with a new boarding pass.

(and I have to remind myself sometimes that west coast to Europe flights in Economy Plus are certainly survivable, though the newer planes nowadays tend to have narrower seats, so I am more careful about selecting the aircraft type if I expect to be in E+)

stan1
Posts: 6288
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by stan1 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:38 am

TravelGeek wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:21 am

(and I have to remind myself sometimes that west coast to Europe flights in Economy Plus are certainly survivable, though the newer planes nowadays tend to have narrower seats, so I am more careful about selecting the aircraft type if I expect to be in E+)
I have "survived" flights to Australia and South Africa in standard economy since employer does not pay for premium tickets under any circumstances. Upgrades of any type on 15 hour flights are much harder to come by. People and many employers are willing to pay for those seats. I do agree that extra leg room is the first priority on a long distance flight with me being 5'8" and 140 pounds. If I was in United economy plus to begin with I'd be more willing to take my chances on an upgrade to business.

Personally I find a premium economy product such as on BA or LH that has upgraded wider seats to be fine and generally seek that product out instead of paying a lot more for business. However, BA and LH premium economy cabins are small and they do sell out whereas UA will put people with unassigned seats into Economy Plus middle seats an hour before boarding.

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 4569
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by whodidntante » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:05 pm

It depends on the price difference. The people who set pricing for airlines consume a great deal of psychedelic drugs, and then they have a randomizer, so sometimes I am able to find first/business class for a modest price increase. But there is a pattern in the madness. This most often happens when the economy fares are expensive anyway, like peak travel days or last minute. I guess they forget to further overcharge for the premium cabin. My advice is to look, every time.

I have status with United so I almost always get economy plus, but I'm in the "they've just barely heard of me" status so free upgrades to first require a sparse flight, although it has happened a couple of times. I got a free upgrade to first on a long haul flight exactly once, on a partner airline. Domestic first is kind of meh, although you can arrive hammered, well fed, and relaxed if so inclined.

I don't upgrade for miles. I spend miles on tickets for people I like, or people I am required to pretend that I like. I pay for my own fare with a travel card.

RudyS
Posts: 1409
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by RudyS » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:46 pm

I buy Delta Comfort+ seats. I'm 6'3" and absolutely need the leg room now that everybody has shrunk the legroom in standard seats to a ridiculous low dimension. I will not fly any extended distance in regular seats (no more than an hour). This means I shop early and check seat plans for what's available. I mention (fly) Delta because we are only a 2 hour drive from the Detroit hub.

User avatar
jainn
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by jainn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:03 pm

We always buy our first class international tickets as soon as they are available. With British Airways, that is almost 1 year in advance. This site has a list of how far in advance for each airline. https://thepointsguy.com/2017/11/how-fa ... k-airfare/

We find that paying with cash earlier is better when the flight has all seats available. We not only get the seats we want, but it has been the cheapest for us. We are flying in a few months and just checked the flight on their website, it is now 3x the price we paid 9 months ago. 9 months ago when we booked, we checked the very next week to see if the price was same, and it was 2x what we paid. I think it has to do with supply demand...there is only 12 first class seats and we took the first 6 of them when we booked...When I check the same flight today for a flight 1 week later than ours...it is only 33% more expensive than what we paid 9 months ago...but looking at the seat map selection while checking this flight, not a single seat has been booked yet which I believe confirms supply/demand pricing.

We looked at using points, we have a lot of unused amex points right now, but it hasn't made sense to us to use them for our flights yet. I have even called the Amex Platinum International airline program to see if can get better pricing then just buying directly but so far no luck with Amex..we just buy direct.

Jainn

stan1
Posts: 6288
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by stan1 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:15 pm

We have some flexibility in travel times usually (not tied to a cruise or pre-booked land tour). We watch for premium class sales which can sometimes be as much as 50% off the full base fare. BA for example has hefty fees so you have to watch that in comparison to the base fare. The airport that's most convenient for us to use has higher fares which we usually end up paying in order to get the convenience of a non-stop flight into our home town (avoiding LAX, SFO, DFW, ORD, EWR, ATL, etc) and easy customs at a smaller non-hub airport.

User avatar
Bogle7
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:33 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by Bogle7 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:39 pm

jainn wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:03 pm
I have even called the Amex Platinum International airline program to see if can get better pricing then just buying directly but so far no luck with Amex
Interesting.
I purchased 2 business-class tickets on British Airways thru Amex travel and they saved me $400 which helped pay towards the $500 net cost of the Platinum card. Plus, I got 40K Avios and not just 8K.

User avatar
jainn
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by jainn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:50 pm

Bogle7 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:39 pm
jainn wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:03 pm
I have even called the Amex Platinum International airline program to see if can get better pricing then just buying directly but so far no luck with Amex
Interesting.
I purchased 2 business-class tickets on British Airways thru Amex travel and they saved me $400 which helped pay towards the $500 net cost of the Platinum card. Plus, I got 40K Avios and not just 8K.
Yeah, we have called them 3-4x time in the past 2 years for British Airways and Air France flights, and they were always the same prices direct + $39/ticket fee..never cheaper...the agent(s) we spoke with said that it happens a lot...we continue to give it a try to save, haven't given up yet on calling them before we click the buy button on the airline website. You may already know this, others may not, there is a Flyertalk thread dedicated to Amex Platinum International Airline Program...some people report success, others not..we just happen to be in the 'not' camp right now... https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/america ... 017-a.html

AlphaLess
Posts: 1235
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: Kentucky

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:53 pm

flyingaway wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:51 am
For international flights of more than 6 hours only.
If you buy a business class ticket with cash (not points), do you buy it in the first place, or do you buy an economy class seat and later upgrade it to the business class one?
You could try either.

However, while you can control the *INITIAL* purchase amount, you can not control the second leg (upgrade).

Sometimes, by doing "econ" plus later "upgrade", it might be cheaper. Other times, not so much.

Also, when you buy biz class upfront, your elite qualifying miles earnings are better.

If you can wait, sometimes there are premium fare sales.

You might want to look into the flyer talk premium fares deal forum. It is quite cryptic, but after a while, you will be able to follow.

People use google fligts, or ITA travel a lot, as a way to price itineraries, etc.
"You can get more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word." George Washington

AlphaLess
Posts: 1235
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: Kentucky

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:54 pm

jainn wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:03 pm
We always buy our first class international tickets as soon as they are available. With British Airways, that is almost 1 year in advance. This site has a list of how far in advance for each airline. https://thepointsguy.com/2017/11/how-fa ... k-airfare/

We find that paying with cash earlier is better when the flight has all seats available. We not only get the seats we want, but it has been the cheapest for us. We are flying in a few months and just checked the flight on their website, it is now 3x the price we paid 9 months ago. 9 months ago when we booked, we checked the very next week to see if the price was same, and it was 2x what we paid. I think it has to do with supply demand...there is only 12 first class seats and we took the first 6 of them when we booked...When I check the same flight today for a flight 1 week later than ours...it is only 33% more expensive than what we paid 9 months ago...but looking at the seat map selection while checking this flight, not a single seat has been booked yet which I believe confirms supply/demand pricing.

We looked at using points, we have a lot of unused amex points right now, but it hasn't made sense to us to use them for our flights yet. I have even called the Amex Platinum International airline program to see if can get better pricing then just buying directly but so far no luck with Amex..we just buy direct.

Jainn
What's the origin and destination?

Also, international first and business class are whole different animals.

Large US to large Europe (e.g., JFK-LHR, ORD-LHR) have a ton of business class seats, sometimes close to 100.
While they typically have 10-15 first class seats.

I have flown those routes with half of biz class empty.
"You can get more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word." George Washington

DrGoogle2017
Posts: 1783
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:31 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:11 pm

I have to book 9 months ahead for my business class travel on British Airways. I usually book the departure flight and then call the airline a few months later for arriving flight, usually I have to pay $75 for changing fee. I’m ok with it. Next time I try to see if the upgrades are cheaper.
Last edited by DrGoogle2017 on Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
jainn
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by jainn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:20 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:54 pm

What's the origin and destination?

Also, international first and business class are whole different animals.

Large US to large Europe (e.g., JFK-LHR, ORD-LHR) have a ton of business class seats, sometimes close to 100.
While they typically have 10-15 first class seats.

I have flown those routes with half of biz class empty.
it’s a multi city, with a layover at heathrow and then we change planes to goto Italy in a club europe seat, a sort of business type seat but not really.. we come back from another location on the return due to extended traveling.
SEA-LHR-FCO
EDI-LHR-SEA

the plane between US and UK, is 777-200 with 12 first class and 48 business seats. http://thebasource.com/seat-maps/b777-2 ... 8j32w127y/

investingdad
Posts: 1460
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by investingdad » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:27 pm

Since I only travel for work a handful of times a year, I've taken to upgrading to 1st class on my own dime.

I have a round trip coming up in a few weeks that's 3.5 hours each way and it was $180 each way to bump to first. Sold. Please pass the cocktail and the meal.

I figure we make more than enough money for me to pay for some extra comfort if I have to travel for work. Totally worth it to me.

AlphaLess
Posts: 1235
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: Kentucky

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:30 pm

jainn wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:20 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:54 pm

What's the origin and destination?

Also, international first and business class are whole different animals.

Large US to large Europe (e.g., JFK-LHR, ORD-LHR) have a ton of business class seats, sometimes close to 100.
While they typically have 10-15 first class seats.

I have flown those routes with half of biz class empty.
it’s a multi city, with a layover at heathrow and then we change planes to goto Italy in a club europe seat, a sort of business type seat but not really.. we come back from another location on the return due to extended traveling.
SEA-LHR-FCO
EDI-LHR-SEA

the plane between US and UK, is 777-200 with 12 first class and 48 business seats. http://thebasource.com/seat-maps/b777-2 ... 8j32w127y/
Got cha, thanks. So the key flight here are SEA to LHR, and LHR to SEA.

Club Europe is a joke: they basically leave the middle seat open, but otherwise, it is a krappy seat.
There are some interesting benefits in Club Europe (or whatever they call it on other airlines). E.g., sometimes they will let you bring TWO carry-ons.

So, yes, with 12 First Class seats, that's a tough competition.

Enjoy your trip!
"You can get more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word." George Washington

User avatar
jainn
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by jainn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:32 pm

Thanks, we are looking forward to it and counting down the days! :beer

DrGoogle2017
Posts: 1783
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:31 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:38 pm

First clas seat is much more competitive, best to pay cash. But business seats are not as competitive, when we flew back from Europe, we noticed quite a few empty seats.

smackboy1
Posts: 1032
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by smackboy1 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:30 pm

flyingaway wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:51 am
For international flights of more than 6 hours only.
If you buy a business class ticket with cash (not points), do you buy it in the first place, or do you buy an economy class seat and later upgrade it to the business class one?
Your chances of being upgraded from economy to business depends on the airline rules and your status. Most of my experience come from United so YMMV. If you want a guaranteed business seat, buy the cash ticket. Generally the earlier you buy, there is more availability of cheaper fare classes (K, L, M) within a service class (econ, business, first). But it's possible to be too early and miss out on discounted fares - at least in my experience in econ. I've booked and econ seat 12 months in advance and have the fare drop 6 months later. If you want to upgrade with miles into business, you enter a wait list. Your place in the wait list depends on your airline status and who else is ahead of you within your status group. So for United, all the Global Services passengers will be prioritized ahead of 1K, who in turn are in front of the Platinum, Gold, Silver passengers. To further complicate matters, airlines have a mystery system where they may clear you for the business seat 30 days prior to the flight, or at the boarding gate. It's also possible to lose your cleared upgrade at the boarding gate at the last minute. Presumably to a last minute cash passenger or maybe a passenger more elite than you. In order to qualify for an upgrade the econ seat must be a minimum fare class - which could be significantly more than the cheapest econ fare class available. Also, there may be an additional upgrade fee. If the upgrade does not happen, you are refunded the upgrade fee and the miles, but you are stuck having paid a premium price for the econ seat. As 1K I've found that except of dates of peak demand, getting cleared for upgrades is pretty high probability. A whole other topic is traveling with companions and getting upgraded as a group. It's tricky because if a 1K is on the same record locator as 3 silvers, it may lower the chance of upgrade for everybody, whereas splitting up the group may increase the chances of at least 1 or 2 upgrades.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Iorek
Posts: 986
Joined: Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:38 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by Iorek » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:55 pm

I recently learned that United lets you search for economy tixkets that can be upgraded to business with miles at time of purchase (although I haven’t done that myself).

My recollection is that BA is unlike the US carriers in that it is pretty good about allowing you to buy an upgrade with miles but they rarely just give away upgrades to fill seats.

Cactuscoug
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:36 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by Cactuscoug » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:29 am

Has anyone had experience with these guys?

https://www.skyluxtravel.com

Fly Business & First Class For Less

cherijoh
Posts: 5038
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:49 pm
Location: Charlotte NC

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:41 am

flyingaway wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:51 am
For international flights of more than 6 hours only.
If you buy a business class ticket with cash (not points), do you buy it in the first place, or do you buy an economy class seat and later upgrade it to the business class one?
I think it will depend on the airline, the itinerary and when you book.

I flew to the Edinburgh this summer. There are a lot fewer flight choices than if I had been going say to London or Paris (especially since I wanted to avoid having 2 connections if at all possible). I didn't bother to get a quote for business class initially since I was booking less than 90 days before the flight. And to be honest, I was mostly interested in the upgrade for the transatlantic portion. I checked into using AA points to upgrade to business, but I was told I would have had to surrender the full amount of points even if I only could upgraded a portion of the trip. So I opted to upgrade to premium coach for all 4 legs of my round trip flight. (I did this shortly after booking the flight). When I checked in online (the night before I left), I was given an option to upgrade the overnight leg from JFK to Edinburgh, which I did. FYI - AA refunded the amount of the upgrade to premium coach for that leg.

Topic Author
flyingaway
Posts: 1949
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 am

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by flyingaway » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:22 am

Is there a ratio between the prices of the business class seats and the economy class seats that seems reasonable, for example, 3 or 6?

lazydavid
Posts: 1949
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by lazydavid » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:00 am

stan1 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:14 am
And willingness to accept risk that you don't get an upgrade. If you are unwilling to fly in economy under any circumstances you would not want to wait until the last week hoping to get an upgrade.
This. I once bought a paid upgrade at the gate when I didn't think my body could handle the flight in coach, and then about 15 minutes later got to watch an elite DYKWIA type have a complete meltdown that he was at the top of the upgrade list and how could somebody else get his seat that he needed so he could put his guitar in the overhead.

If you need to fly in J or F, buy a ticket in J or F. If you'll tolerate your paid seat in coach in the event you don't get upgraded, then it's totally fine to play the upgrade lottery.

lazydavid
Posts: 1949
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by lazydavid » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:09 am

investingdad wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:27 pm
Since I only travel for work a handful of times a year, I've taken to upgrading to 1st class on my own dime.

I have a round trip coming up in a few weeks that's 3.5 hours each way and it was $180 each way to bump to first. Sold. Please pass the cocktail and the meal.

I figure we make more than enough money for me to pay for some extra comfort if I have to travel for work. Totally worth it to me.
I do this as well, though I try to minimize my travel because I can't sit in regular economy, so flying for work always costs me out of pocket. At a minimum I have to pay for Main Cabin Extra/Economy+ for the legroom. But if an upgrade to F is available at check-in, I'll take it. Haven't figured out how to just book directly in F through corporate travel and pay the difference. But I'd do so if I could.

lazydavid
Posts: 1949
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by lazydavid » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:42 am

flyingaway wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:22 am
Is there a ratio between the prices of the business class seats and the economy class seats that seems reasonable, for example, 3 or 6?
I normally book pretty early and pay 60-100% more than the deep discount economy price for a domestic F (roughly equivalent to international J) seat in the "Instant Upgrade" fare category (YUP or KUP fare codes). Effectively what this is doing is buying a full-fare economy ticket, and getting a confirmed upgrade and seat assignment at the time of booking.

There are some small caveats to this, most notably that upgraded seats are not guaranteed in the event of IRROPS. Legally they only have to rebook you into coach, as that's technically the class you purchased, and if they do so you are not entitled to compensation. But in the few cases where I've had flights cancelled on which I had purchased a YUP fare, the airline was able to re-accommodate me in F on the later flight. Having lounge access (I get this through a credit card) can help here, as those agents are generally more senior, less stressed out and have more leeway than the gate agents do. Even if it does eventually happen, I've saved enough money over the years buying this way that I still come out way ahead.

The other caveat is that full-fare First/Business class tickets are generally fully refundable, while Instant Upgrade fares are subject to change fees. But aside from those two things, there is no difference between a YUP and the equivalent F/J ticket. Same seat, same service.

investingdad
Posts: 1460
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:41 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by investingdad » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:21 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:09 am
investingdad wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:27 pm
Since I only travel for work a handful of times a year, I've taken to upgrading to 1st class on my own dime.

I have a round trip coming up in a few weeks that's 3.5 hours each way and it was $180 each way to bump to first. Sold. Please pass the cocktail and the meal.

I figure we make more than enough money for me to pay for some extra comfort if I have to travel for work. Totally worth it to me.
I do this as well, though I try to minimize my travel because I can't sit in regular economy, so flying for work always costs me out of pocket. At a minimum I have to pay for Main Cabin Extra/Economy+ for the legroom. But if an upgrade to F is available at check-in, I'll take it. Haven't figured out how to just book directly in F through corporate travel and pay the difference. But I'd do so if I could.
Same. We cannot book First through the company portal so I immediately go to the airline site after booking and upgrade on the personal card.

Our admin seemed annoyed by this for reasons not clear to me (she's copied on travel plans automatically).

On evening flights home I get dinner and a drink during the flight and I'm first off to get to my car for the hour drive home. And it's just a proper seat.

Cruise
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by Cruise » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:57 pm

OP:

If you are going to use cash to purchase J or F tickets, I'd highly recommend Google Flights. You can easily compare costs from Origin to Destination across multiple carriers. You can specify an alliance you want to fly, how many stops you can tolerate, and the class of service (F/J) you desire.

As others have mentioned, if you have an AMEX Centurion or Platinum, and you are initiating a trip from the USA, you can use their International Airline Program (IAP). There are multiple reports on Flyertalk.com that people are saving around 10% using this program compared to standard published rates. In addition, American Airlines has a separate deal with AMEX which provides a discounted J/F fare independent of the IAP.

Bon Voyage!

sco
Posts: 843
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:28 pm

Re: How to buy business class tickets?

Post by sco » Wed Jan 16, 2019 9:58 pm

I've done both. if you know that there is upgrade availability, you can actually do the purchase and get it upgraded before completing the economy purchase. Just call.

Post Reply