My #1 Secret to Finding Discounted Business Class Airfare on an Economy Fare Budget

Feeling refreshed after a KLM business class flight

KLM Boeing 747 in Amsterdam

The last time you flew a long-haul international flight, you probably passed through the business class cabin, jealously admiring the large seats and glasses of champagne. Meanwhile, you’re schlepping yourself and your luggage to the back of the place and home to tiny seats, grumpy passengers and (more than likely), gruff flight attendants. You sit down in your seat and wonder if it’s a torture device. When your seatmate elbows you in the ribs, you know that indeed, the seat is in fact a torture chamber. And good luck getting a meal that isn’t soggy and unappetizing.

Business class dinner on American Airlines
Business class dinner on American Airlines

Thankfully, I have a secret trick for finding business class tickets at an affordable price, which I’ve been using for over 4 years. One word of warning: Once you fly long-haul business class, you aren’t going to want to go back to economy.

Champagne on KLM business class flight
Champagne on a KLM business class flight

My Secret For Finding Business Class Airfares at a Discount

So what’s my secret you ask? It’s the Flyertalk Premium Fare Deal forum, of course. If you’re not familiar with Flyertalk, it’s a community of frequent travelers around the world. The forums are broken into sections, such as Airline Alliances, Hotels, Travel Safety, etc.

China Eastern Airlines Business class cabin
China Eastern Airlines Business class cabin

The Premium Fare Deal forum does have a little bit of a learning curve: Airlines and airports are listed by their IATA code. For example, this post says: VS/DL SFO-Man $2000 RT. What it really means is that the deal is valid flying from San Francisco to Manchester, UK on Virgin Atlantic / Delta, roundtrip. The posts will typically give sample dates as well as any fare rules, such as a required Saturday stay.

It may seem confusing at first but after spending some time on the Flyertalk forums, you’ll start remembering the most commonly used airlines and airports.

Some example airfares I’ve found on Flyertalk in the past couple of years include:

  • Vancouver to Athens on Air France: $1,400
  • Chicago to Delhi on KLM: $1,300
  • Vancouver to Edinburgh on KLM: $1,700
  • Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro on American Airlines: $1,200
  • Los Angeles to Lima on Delta: $1,100
Feeling refreshed after a KLM business class flight
Feeling refreshed after a KLM business class flight

Another tip for finding inexpensive business class fares (new!):

If your travel dates are flexible, another place to search for premium fare deals is Google Flights. Here’s how I use it to search for deals:

  • Let’s assume that I want a business class deal from Vancouver, Canada to Rome sometime in November or December
  • After going to Google Flights, I’ll type in Seattle to Europe. I’m choosing Europe instead of Rome because I want to see the cost of all flights to Europe. Once you’re in Europe, it’s usually very inexpensive to buy a cheap ticket on EasyJet, Ryanair, etc. If the prices to Rome look good, I’ll book that but if there are significant savings to another city, it’s something I’ll consider.
  • Click search (type in whatever dates you want for now). Once you’re on the search results page, click the dates again and select ‘Flexible.’ You’ll now be able to select whether you want to see fares for a weekend, 1-week or 2-week trip.
  • As you can see from the screenshot below, the least expensive ticket to Rome in December is $2,500. I can fly to Paris for $1,312 and buy an inexpensive ticket from Paris to Rome on EasyJet.

Google Flights screenshot

A few things to keep in mind:

  • The fares don’t usually stick around for a while. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you want to book the tickets, you can always buy them and cancel within 24 hours (note: This applies to people in the U.S. Check your country’s laws to see if this applies).
  • You may not see a fare to/from your exact city. In that case, check out another tool to see how much a domestic ticket will cost you to get to the starting destination. I’m based out of the Seattle area but in order to take advantage of some amazing deals, I’ve flown to Vancouver (Canada), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago in order to position myself for the long-haul flight.
  • Research the business class seats on the airline carefully so that you understand what you’re getting. Some airlines, like Icelandair for example, have recliner seats in business while others have lie-flat seats. Seatguru is a great place to check the seat map to understand the type of business class seat you’re getting before you purchase.
  • Once you get used to delicious multi course meals, seats that recline into a full bed and actually arriving at your destination feeling fresh, you will never want to sit in the economy cabin ever again.

My #1 Secret to Buying Business Class Airfare at Economy PricesHow to find business class flights for economy prices


Author: Rebecca Pattee

Rebecca started Away From the Office to encourage office workers to temporarily step away from the 9-5 grind and see the world. Follow along for advice on amazing destinations, packing tips and more.

22 thoughts on “My #1 Secret to Finding Discounted Business Class Airfare on an Economy Fare Budget”

  1. That is a pretty good tip. I would love to find discounted tickets like that. But of course, once you get used to it you never want to fly economy again. And what happens if there are no discounted business tickets on the trip you are planning. Still worth checking out for unplanned impromptu trips thou. Thank you!

  2. This is seriously the most brilliant advice I’ve read in a long time!! Thank you! I am signing up for these forums and soon as I click send to this thank you, thank you, thank you comment! We flew once from Houston to Istanbul in business class. The seats lay completely flat, the food was amazing….and you are soo right. We were immediately spoiled rotten!! But, that stuff is expensive. I’m over the moon with your tip and am tweeting to share!

    1. Glad you found it so useful! The Flyertalk community is amazing and if it wasn’t for them, I’d never be able to afford business class. I find myself planning trips based on these fares.

  3. Now this information and link is something I definitely want to bookmark. Living in Australia means that it is automatically a long-haul flight to get to anywhere…the first 7 hours of the flight are spent just getting out of Australian air space when you live in the southern cities (which most of us do). Thanks so much for posting this!

  4. I had no idea deals and forums like this existed. This is going to change the way I search for flight deals in the future. I need to fly business class at least once!

  5. I never heard about Flyertalk before. Is this only about flights from the US? Even tough I am from the Netherlands I rarely fly with KLM because they are always more expensive.

  6. I’ve never heard of Flyertalk before! Seems like a great sneaky little way of one-upping the airlines! Although I’m not sure it would work flying from the UK, as to me $1,700 return to fly Vancouver-Edinburgh or vice versa would definitely not be classed as “economy fare”. It’s probably twice as much as what I would consider economy fare for the same route. Likewise, $2000 SFO to Manchester. I guess it’s a lot cheaper to fly from UK to US as opposed to the other way around! I’d love to fly business class one day though, especially if I don’t have to pay business prices 🙂

    1. I think Europeans are pretty lucky in that airfare to the U.S. and other locations is much less expensive than what we pay. A lot of the best deals in the premium fares forum are fares out of Europe at the moment. Some folks on Europe have figured out how to ‘nest’ a flight so that they can take advantage of those deals.

  7. It sounds like you have to be very flexible when booking, but I’ll definitely try this out next time I’m buying long haul tickets. I hate being stuck in coach.

  8. I have never heard of this forum nor of this tip before. It is so handy because we all know how difficult it is to deal with economy seats. They’re horrible especially if you have a carry-on luggage with you. I’d have to try this out!

  9. This sounds like a great way to get discounted business class fares. Now that you have let us in to your secret, I will check this out and see if I can get some fantastic deals.. Of course need to learn the ropes as you have suggested it is a bit complicated.

  10. I am not familiar with Flyertalk, but it’s sounds like a great way to score some discounted business class airfare on a economy budget. I will have to check this out for my next big trip overseas. Who wouldn’t want to experience a more spacious and delectable food menu over the crowded economy class. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I have never heard of this but I will have to look into. I have flown business class before for work and it was amazing, not worth it within europe but longhaul its great. I still don’t know whether I will be able to afford but its certainly worth a look 🙂

  12. Will definitely make a note of this for when we fly internally in the US. Flights are a lot more reasonable from the UK, but Business and First class are still prohibitively extortionate. We had a good friend in dispatch for years though, and he would get us upgraded. Such a treat! 🙂

  13. Hi Rebecca! I’ve been frequenting that Flyertalk premium fare forum for a few years and have also taken advantage of the super cheap business class fares. It’s awesome, isn’t it?! Not sure if it’s just me, but it seems like 2017 has been slow for business class deals (at least from Seattle). Are you finding better luck where you’re from?

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