preloadA man in business attire holds his phone in his right ear and stands by the glass walls of an airport departure area.

Flying in Business Class doesn’t have to break the bank. Deals and promotions may be far less common for business than the Economy, but they’re out there if you know where to look. With the right approach and tools, you can quickly learn how to get cheap Business class tickets.

What is Business Class?

A significant step up from Economy and Premium Economy Classes, business class is perfect for travelers who want to fly in comfort without paying the eye-watering prices of first class.

While it varies from airline to airline, usually offers plenty of perks. Airport lounge access, free-flowing champagne, room to stretch your legs and lie flat and top-quality food – the allure is clear.

An empty business-class window seat inside an airplane with a scenic sky view.

You’ll arrive more rested and less stressed, and likely with a nice gift or two for your luxuriant troubles.

That means, no matter if you’re flying internationally or domestically, it’s well worth making the effort to root out those business class bargains.

Here are the top five tips and KAYAK tools to help you fly in luxury without sky-high prices.

1. Use your points and miles to get cheap Business Class tickets

If you’re serious about saving money when you fly, your first stop should be airline rewards programs, and in particular branded airline credit cards. You can use the points and miles you accrue on your credit card spend as well as previous flights, hotel stays and car rentals to book business class seats.

Using your rewards is smart because business class tickets can cost three or four times as much as economy tickets, but don’t cost triple or quadruple the miles. That makes an upgrade the most cost-effective way to maximize your rewards program.

Before you book, make sure you know all the partnerships and alliances for your chosen programs. Points and miles are often transferable between cards and collaborating airlines meaning you can combine different sources to deliver one giant discount on your upgrade.

Let’s take United Airlines’ MileagePlus miles, for example. Part of the Star Alliance, you can use its miles with 35+ other airlines around the world including the likes of Lufthansa, Air Canada and EVA Air. You can use your miles to book Business Class tickets directly or to upgrade your Economy or Premium Economy seats.

But it’s almost always wiser to book your tickets directly rather than try the upgrade, for a few reasons. Many airlines don’t allow upgrades with miles from economy class tickets, and most don’t if you bought those tickets with miles in the first place. When you do find airlines willing to upgrade, you’ll also likely find a hefty surcharge tagged on. This almost always makes it an inefficient way to spend your miles (and your money).

2. Bid on a Business Class upgrade auction

There are many ways to score an upgrade to Business Class, but perhaps the most gamified is the airline auction. From Air New Zealand to Cathay Pacific, many airlines invite you to bid on a class upgrade – if you’ve bought an eligible ticket. It’s pretty simple. In the days or weeks leading up to your departure date, you’ll get an email from the airline inviting you to make an offer on a seat upgrade. Some airlines only let you bid for a single step up to the next class from your existing ticket, but a few like Etihad let you bid on any class, from business to first.

Auctions usually impose a minimum bid amount, so to give yourself a good chance try bidding at least 25% above that. If that’s above your budget, it’s always worth making an offer for what you’re willing to pay anyway. Some auctions have surprisingly few bidders and as a result, low thresholds. Most of the time, you’ll be bidding cold hard cash for your upgrade, although a few carriers such as Qantas and Singapore Airlines let you bid with miles as well.

3. Use KAYAK tools to fly Business Class for less

There’s no magic formula for finding discount business class tickets, but KAYAK has tools to make your search easier. If you don’t feel like spending your spare time scouring airlines for business class deals (and who does?), set a Price Alert and we’ll do the work for you.

Just set your departure and arrival points, choose fixed or flexible flight dates and make sure to change the dropdown to ‘Business’. You’ll get email alerts when the price drops, and access to our forecasting tool to see if we think the price is going to get cheaper or more expensive over the next 30 days.

Find Business Class deals

4. Search smart and don’t be afraid to Explore

Filters, what are they good for? Time saving: that’s what. With so many competing flights and deals, clearing out the noise with a focused search is the quickest route to finding a cheap flight.

When looking for a cheap Business Class airfare on KAYAK, make sure to use the Cabin filter to narrow your search. Just check the ‘Business only’ box and then sort the results using the ‘Cheapest’ tab at the top of the page.

Another way to approach your search is to go by budget rather than destination. If the world truly is your oyster, then Explore is for you. Just set your criteria and budget, and browse our world map to see which city catches your eye. You can filter for Business Class tickets in the search results page once you’ve picked somewhere amazing.

5. Forget outdated advice and be flexible

Gone are the days of rolling up to check in dressed in your Sunday best with claims of it being your honeymoon in the hope of a celebratory upgrade. The best you can expect today at the counter is the offer of a discounted bump up in class. But that will likely be more expensive than using the tips and tools in this article. Nowadays, airline employees can’t offer cheap upgrades at their own discretion, so there’s no point in asking.

Instead, plan well and in advance, and embrace a little flexibility. Try to avoid flying on Fridays and Mondays, which are popular with business travelers. You’re more likely to find vacant business class seats on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The next time you search, add a few days’ window before and after your flight dates and you’ll cast a much bigger net over potential cheap business class fares.

How was this guide created?


If you travel a lot on work trips, you’ll love finding out why KAYAK for Business will change how you travel for the better. And if you’re just as happy flying economy for less, our tips on how to get cheap flights have everything you need to know.

Some of our favorite cheap Business Class flight routes

Business Class FAQs

A woman working on her laptop during her flight seated on the plane's window seat.

Why is Business Class so expensive?

The old adage says you get what you pay for. Business class is expensive because it comes with perks that not only increase your comfort but save you time and lessen the impact of long-haul travel. Airport lounges before you fly, quicker boarding and disembarkation, comfy seats for a decent sleep, good food and drinks… the list goes on.

How do I ask for an upgrade on a flight?

You won’t get an upgrade by asking at the check-in desk. Instead, plan your trip in advance and give yourself the best chance of getting the cheapest upgrade using the tools and tips in this article. Always bear in mind that there’s also a hierarchy to being upgraded. You’re more likely to get the bump up from premium economy than Economy, and members of frequent flier programs will also get priority.

Is First Class better than Business Class?

If you’re flying long haul, absolutely. First class takes everything business class offers to the next level, with some airlines offering unbelievable perks like private cabins. It does, however, come at a cost. If you’re flying short-haul, first class (where it’s available) may not be worth that extra cost. The shorter your flight, the less bang you get for your buck and Business Class is often the smarter option.

What does Business Class look like?

Very different to Economy! Seats are more like personal pods that lie flat (or close to it) with far more room to stretch out. Often set in pairs, they have privacy partitions and better amenities – bigger screens, high-quality noise- canceling headphones, a table, proper blankets, slippers and even nightwear. Beware though – not all Business Class cabins are the same. Modern amenities have dramatically improved meaning older planes may not offer anywhere near the same level of comfort as new models.

About the author

Duncan MaddenDuncan is a freelance travel writer, copywriter and book author in constant search of travel stories and the perpetual sensation of being on holiday. He’s never happier than when on a dusty trail in search of empty waves or ducking under the piste tape in search of snowbound solitude. British born, living in Germany, but happiest heading for the horizon. His first book, Found in Translation, explores the etymologies and stories of country names around the world and is out now.

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