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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.