Booking business class flights: Dos & Don’ts

Booking business class flights: Dos & Don’ts

Do you ever feel like you’re being given the runaround by airlines when purchasing a business class ticket for an international flight? Most airlines have turned purchasing premium cabin seats into a game, and unless you know the right tricks to watch for, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll lose. Here are four things to try and avoid so you don’t overpay for business class airfare.

Purchasing your tickets too early.
Timing your purchase correctly is key. Ideally, business class fares would be cheap to begin with and only increase as tickets are sold and demand rises, but that’s not how it works. Your favourite airlines begin by overvaluing fares, only to drastically reduce them sporadically later to give you the impression you’re getting the seat at a steal. Fewer than 15% of premium cabin seats are sold at their initial asking price.

Using more miles than necessary.
Using miles to purchase the ticket might seem like a smart idea. However, even the most seasoned traveller can make a miles mistake that results in extra fees, a less comfortable seat or drastically overpaying for a flight. A flight that shows as being 90% empty on the airline’s website may still place restrictions on the type of miles that can be used, or require you to use an enormous number of miles for a seat that no one was buying. Redeeming a large number of miles for a business class flight that’s undersold is a terrible deal that can cost you more in the long run.

Relying on an upgrade to get a business class seat.
If you’re a member of a frequent flyer or loyalty program, you’ve probably received a message announcing, “You’ve earned an upgrade!” It’s a great feeling — until you try and redeem the upgrade only to find that, despite the number of available seats in business class, the upgrade simply isn’t available for the flight you’ve selected. Airlines can wait up until the day of travel to clear upgrades, as they want to try to sell the seats first. If all the seats sell, there are no upgrades left to give out the day of the flight.

Using wholesalers to get a good deal.
In the past, discounts of up to 40% on seats were more than enough to fill empty business class seats. However, current business class customers are looking for luxury while focusing on getting the best value they can. Most wholesaler discounts are based on the full-price fare that very few travellers ever pay, which distorts their value. Additionally, some wholesalers use frequent flyer programs in order to create falsified savings, but when half the cabin is empty there’s no need to redeem or buy points. You’ll get your chance to buy a business class seat for less than coach while earning full mileage on your trip when business class buying events occur.

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