How to find discount Business and First class airfares

Hi Frugalistas!

I’ve written previously about how to save money on Business Class flights.  There are even more ways to save, so I’m delighted to present more favourite ways to save on Business and First Class seats!

front page of Emirates A380 shower booklet

Photo author’s own Everyone deserves a shower at 40 000 feet!

Point Aggregator Sites

Websites like Fly Luxe for Less and the Australian I Fly Flat buy frequent flyer mileage points from multiple sources, aggregate them together, then offer them to you at a discounted rate.  These sites only offer Business and First Class seats, and depending on your requirements you have a limited choice of airlines.  The other downside is that you can’t earn mileage points yourself on your flight, as it is deemed to be a flight reward.  When you consider savings on your ticket may be as high as 70% (depending on a number of factors), not getting points yourself is a very small price to pay for a potentially massive saving.

Use comparison sites to find the cheapest deal for First and Business Class tickets

There are many comparison sites where you can shop around for a cheap flight.  I personally like Skyscanner.  Comparison sites often seem to have fares that the airlines themselves don’t offer on their own websites, and that it would take you hours to identify if you went through the individual booking websites.

plastic pouch filled with Korres cosmetics, Etihad amenities kit

An amenity kit in Etihad business class

Book through one airline, fly another

Using Skyscanner I’m currently keeping an eye out for Business and First Class airfares to Europe for later this year.  I’m very price conscious for this potential trip (not even sure if I’ll be going at this stage, but I want to be well prepared), so rather than going to my favourite airlines, I’m trawling through the cheapies.

Often when a quality airline offers an incredibly cheap fare, it is a code share on a different airline.  The best deal I’ve found so far?  Business class to Europe return on an Air France ticket, that actually has three sectors on Etihad (which regular readers will know is one of my favourite airlines).  For $2000 less than the cost of an Etihad ticket on the same website I know this is a true bargain.

If you are interested in this strategy, I think it pays to check the fine print on your ticket before taking the plunge.  Make sure you understand where you stand in case of cancellation, and whether you are eligible for mileage points.

Use mileage points to upgrade to Business or First Class

If you’ve got a few mileage points, but not enough to buy a First or Business class ticket, consider buying an upgrade.  If you don’t have enough for a round trip ticket, prioritise which leg will get you the best value for money.  My choice would always be on a night time leg, to get that nice flat bed and comfy pillow to sleep with.

This strategy works best for the super-organised traveller.  Buy your ticket early to give yourself the best chance to buy your upgrade and remember that if you can’t buy your upgrade, you’re in cattle class!

dessert plate with jug of creme anglais, Etihad Business class

Restaurant style dining is a given in a high end airline Business or First Class

Get on mailing lists

I subscribe to a number of mailing lists from different booking websites and airlines.  While I’m not always in a position to purchase, I do see what tremendous deals can be on offer.  Europe from Sydney in Business Class for anything up to a 20% discount is possible.  Most of these offers don’t last long, and are often for small windows of flying time, so be ready to be flexible and act fast!

Companion fares

Some airlines and some travel agents will often companion fares for First and Business Class seats from time to time.  If you are travelling with a companion (usually for your whole journey) always ask if there is a companion fare on offer.  I’ve seen fares where the companion just has to pay the taxes, so these can be amazingly good offers if they work out date and destination wise for you!

frugalfirstclasstravel Etihad First Class 2

Etihad First Class And so to bed……

Early bird fares

Most quality airlines will offer early bird fares for organised travellers.  In Australia, early bird fares start in October/November for Europe the following year.  The fares are limited in number and in time availability.  Further offers normally happen in December, then again in early January (when everyone is on holiday and not paying attention).  If you are in a position to move, an early bird fare in Business or First class can save you 20% easily depending on the airline, route and timing.

This is another time when being organised saves you money!

Buying mileage points

Some airlines allow you to buy mileage points, often at a significant discount to their face value.  In my experience, it is mainly US airlines who do this.  Not a member of their mileage program?  No problem.  Sign up, and then use the points to book seats on your preferred affiliated airline.  I’ve seen discounts as high as 30% on these programs.

Flying First or Business Class is never cheap, unless you have someone to pay for your ticket or lots of mileage points to use, but it is possible to save, and save big on premium cabin tickets, with a bit of planning and keeping your eyes peeled.

What’s your best Business or First Class deal?  If you have any other travel hacks I’d love you to share!

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8 Comments on “How to find discount Business and First class airfares”

  1. Kids Accom 24/02/2014 at 7:20 am #

    Great blog! Thank u!

  2. Pamela 24/02/2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Many thanks, very interesting. We always look up what’s out there before deciding, and you’ve provided useful additional options. But prefer generally to fly BA Business class long haul. On checking the fine print in the past have found some of the special deals are to fly on unpopular routings necessitating additional changes of plane, eg through Frankfurt and longer travel times. When we see a price we like, we go into Flight Centre and ask our regular operator if she can match or do better on an airline we’ll consider flying. Generally works out quite well this way. May not be the very cheapest but a lot cheaper than usual scheduled fare and we get to travel on the route and airline we’re happy with. Also we do get the FF points, though not quite sure how this works out now with Qantas given split in relationship? We use our FF points just for domestic travel on Qantas in Oz. Cheers, Pamela

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 24/02/2014 at 6:59 pm #

      That’s an important point, Pamela. Sometimes cheap fares are on awkward routings or have long layovers. If that isn’t important to you then those fares can be a bargain, but if you’re short on time it may not be such a bargain.

      I’m no expert, but would imagine you’d be safe with your FF points on BA – they are still part of One World I think.

  3. Janice & George (@SandInSuitcase) 25/02/2014 at 4:22 am #

    Good tips! Flying business or first is such a treat – so hard to fly economy afterward. Our next long-haul is unfortunately economy (yuck). Hope one day to try out that shower-in-the-sky on Emirates :-).

  4. frugalfirstclasstravel 25/02/2014 at 6:14 am #

    Thanks! Even though it’s how I fly long haul, I still regard it as a massive treat every time I board that plane.

  5. Debra Barnes 07/09/2014 at 10:53 am #

    I was wondering what’s the best way to get companion airfares, for I will be paying for 2 in buisiness class , if I can get a good companion fare that will mean I wouldn’t have to pay as much.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 07/09/2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Companion fares are often a good option. In my experience, the best way to find them is to subscribe to airline newsletters and email advertising. They are not available all the time, and often the only way to find out about is via newsletters. Some airlines will advertise them via print media, but not always. The other option is to subscribe to travel agent newsletters so you know what airlines have got the best deals. The Platinum American Express card also offers companion fares in first and business, however, they are not always competitively priced.

      • Debra Barnes 07/09/2014 at 5:21 pm #

        Thanks for that, , I have subscribed to a few websites (skylux, flyinfinat, L4L,byojet, etc;) I find though that the price they give you isn’t the same as their advertised price.

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