5 Business Class Hacks to Save Money in 2024 (Ultimate Guide)

by Jon Miksis
Business class traveler cabin
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Want to score business class tickets for dirt cheap? With the right booking strategies and flight hacks, you can fly business class for as cheap as an economy ticket. That’s right- you can save thousands of dollars flying business class with the right tips and tricks.

Here, we’ll cover 5 expert hacks that’ll have you reclining in those luxe seats without breaking the bank. We’re talking special booking tricks and tools that make luxury travel surprisingly affordable. I’ve personally used these travel hacks to fly business class for cheap (and even free) to Asia, South America, and Europe. Soon, you can, too!

Ready to upgrade your flight game? Let’s dive into these insider tips.

1. Sign up for Elite

To save on business class tickets, you’ll want to sign up for flight deal alerts. I highly recommend signing up for the Elite version of Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). I’ve used this membership site for 4 years, and it saves me $10,000+ on flights every year. The annual fee of $199 is tiny in comparison!

Here are some recent business class deals I’ve found in their app:

Going Elite recent deals

With Going Elite, you’ll receive mistake fares and other ridiculously cheap flight deals for business and first class tickets. You’ll also get access to points and miles deals and custom destination alerts, which can be accessed anytime using their new mobile app!

Last year, Going sent me an alert for a mistake fare on Emirates, and I saved 75% on the flight. This was over $3,500 in savings! Going Elite only comes out to $16.50/month and there’s a 14-day FREE trial, so you can cancel anytime. In my experience, just one discounted flight pays for the membership five times over.

Insider tip: Over the past year, Going has significantly increased its functionalities and the number of flight deals. I expect that they will be raising the price very soon, so be sure to snatch the $199 annual membership while you can.

Want to find sweet deals on all other fare classes? Their $49/year premium version is also well worth it…just one discounted flight pays for the whole thing. I recommend trying the free trial and using my special discount code JON20 to save 20%!

-Want to find discounted flights on regular economy? I recommend downloading the free version, which doesn’t ask you for a credit card.

2. Take advantage of airline miles and points

The most practical way to save money on business class travel is by taking advantage of miles programs. To do this, you’ll first want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of credit card signup bonuses. For instance, when you sign up for the Chase Reserve (my favorite travel credit card), you get 60,000 bonus points. Strike it right, and this can be redeemed for a roundtrip business class flight to Europe using some of the tips below.

Currently, Chase and Amex have some of the best credit cards rewards programs that you can redeem for air travel. Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

Chase Ultimate Rewards vs. Amex Membership Rewards

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards – You can transfer your Chase points to 11 airline partners at a 1:1 ratio, including Air Canada, Emirates, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, and United. For example, you can fly from the US to Europe on United for as low as 60,000 points in business class.
  2. American Express Membership Rewards – Amex points are versatile and transferrable to over 18 partner airlines. This includes Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines, and many more. One airline partner that particularly shines is ANA, where a roundtrip business class flight from the US to Tokyo goes for about 75,000 points during low season.

Pro Tip: To maximize how you’re allocating points, I highly recommend signing up for Seats.aero. This is the #1 tool that helps people find award space for flights on specific airlines and flight routes using points and miles. The website aggregates all the frequent flier program discounts all in one place, which is definitely preferable to going on each airline website to find deals.

Seats.aero user interface

Now that we’ve covered airline miles and credit card rewards points at a high level, let’s turn out attention to airline-specific programs where you can actually book discounted flights. Here are some of the best miles programs for business class airlines in 2024.

Top airline miles programs for international travel

  • American Airlines AAdvantage: American lets you earn and use miles with American and Oneworld airlines. Plan to budget 30,000-55,000 miles on a one-way business class flight to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Flights from the US to Morocco can go for 57,000 miles.
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue: This is one of the best options for flying business class to Europe from hubs like Boston, JFK, Atlanta, and Chicago. Flying Blue’s promo awards offer monthly discounts on select business class flights. I recently found a business class flight from Boston to Paris for just 55,000 points.
  • Avianca LifeMiles: As a member of Star Alliance, this program lets you book flights with 26 Star Alliance partner airlines. This includes United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Turkish, ANA, Asiana, and Copa. For business class flights to Europe and South America, budget between 35,000-60,000 United miles.
  • JetBlue TrueBlue: JetBlue Mint is available on domestic and international flights. This program offers four levels of Mosaic elite status, which can be achieved through travel and credit card spending. Mint typically costs 15,000–50,000 points each way for transcontinental routes.
  • LATAM Pass: This is the frequent flyer program for LATAM, a Latin American airline that’s a member of Oneworld. I recently flew from Boston to Santiago with LATAM and found deals around 40,000 miles each way.
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles: Flying business class with Turkish Airlines will bring you pretty much anywhere in the world, including Europe, Africa, and Asia. Currently, you can book flights from the US to Istanbul and beyond for just 45,000 miles one-way.
  • United MileagePlus: As a member of Star Alliance, United miles can be used on 35 airlines worldwide to over 1,000 destinations. Flights to South American countries can go for 30,000 miles each way. United Polaris business class awards to Europe go for around 80,000 miles.

Of course, when using any of these programs, there are many nuances to be aware of. I recommend signing up for Going Elite, which sends you email alerts on points and meals deals from your home airport. That way, you won’t have to keep track of all the ins and outs (which are constantly changing). Check out Going’s official website to learn more.

3. Use points to upgrade from an economy ticket

Purchasing business class tickets directly with an airline can be expensive, so it’s always a good idea to consider buying economy or premium economy first. From there, you can sometimes upgrade your ticket with the airline for a nominal fee.

For example, Singapore Airlines allows you to upgrade from economy to business for 55,000 miles if you book a standard economy ticket in fare classes M, H, or W. Or, you can do this for 31,000 miles if you book a premium economy ticket in fare classes P or L. 

Here are some other examples on how you can upgrade from economy/premium economy to business class:

  • United Airlines allows you to upgrade from premium economy to business for 30 PlusPoints on long-haul flights. 
  • American Airlines allows you to upgrade from premium economy to international business class with 5,000 AAdvantage miles. 
  • British Airways allows you to upgrade from premium economy to business for around 18,000 points.
  • Delta lets you upgrade to business after booking your ticket, but only for all fare classes above basic economy. Generally, upgrades to business class start at 15,000 points. Going.com offers a quick way to show how many points it costs on select flight routes.

4. Bid on an upgrade with select business class airlines

Here is one of the best hacks to save you thousands on business class travel: bid on a seat upgrade. How does this work? Some airlines allow passengers to bid on business class seat upgrades if there are unsold seats. This is often done through an email invitation or the airline’s bidding platform. 

Many international airlines offer business class seat auctions, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, and Lufthansa. However, none of the major US-based carriers offer this option for business class seats.

Here are some tips for bidding on a business class upgrade:

  • Calculate the difference: Determine the cost of a business class seat, subtract the price of economy, and bid 20–40% of the difference.
  • Consider other factors: Your bid depends on several factors, including competing offers, the number of seats available, the number of passengers in your offer, and your loyalty status. Signing up for the airline loyalty program gives you a better chance at securing an upgrade.
  • Check in late: Airlines may be more likely to offer upgrades when they overbook, which can happen closer to the end of check-in. You can check your flight status online 24 hours before departure to see if your flight might be overbooked.
  • Make your best offer: Put forward your best offer to improve your chances of success.

Beyond the bidding process, having elite status with an airline is the next best way to get upgraded on your flight. Top elites receive complimentary upgrades and earn exclusive upgrade certificates that can be used on international flights. And of course- if the flight is full and you volunteer to be bumped, many airlines offer free or discounted upgrades.

Email notification showing an airline's bidding process for business class flights
Email notification showing an airline’s bidding process for business class flights

5. Set up price alerts with Skyscanner or Hopper

This has always been a helpful strategy for finding cheap business class fares.

Skyscanner’s Price Alerts feature can help you find the best business class deals by tracking your desired itinerary and notifying you when business-class prices change. You can set up alerts for multiple airports, different dates, and alternative routes.

Another great site for price alerts is Hopper. Its algorithm compares current airfare data to historical data for the same routes and dates to predict if ticket prices will increase or decrease in the future. Hopper also suggests when the best time to book a flight will be, and boasts a 95% accuracy rate up to one year in advance. 

Again- to save you the hassle of having to keep up with all the price alerts and flight deals, I highly recommend trying the free trial of Going Elite. Over the years, it’s proven to be the most effective way to save money on business class flights. I pay for six other flight subscription services out there (i.e. Dollar Flight Club), but Going consistently has the best deals. Plus, at just $199/year, it’s super undervalued right now. I expect the price to climb at least $50-100 this year as they continue rolling out upgrades to their new app.

Man on his laptop during a business class flight
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