In this review, We share ten tips and tricks to help you find and book the cheapest First Class flight ticket for your next long-haul flight. If you don’t have enough frequent flyer miles to book or upgrade your long-haul flight to First Class, we share how to book the cheapest flight tickets online in this elite cabin.
Our tips incorporate booking cheap and discounted tickets during sales, waiting for the last minute to upgrade your flight, and making your initial booking the moment your flights are launched, even if this is a year in advance. This article focuses on British Airways, but the tips are relevant across airlines worldwide, including American Airlines, United, and Delta, along with other European, Asian, and Middle Eastern carriers.
It is also worth checking my long-haul flight reviews to work out which airline offers the best seat in your First Class.
1. Use A First Class Specialist
This tip is quite simple. Don’t book through the airline’s website direct. Price your ideal flight up on flight comparison websites like Google Flights. Check the price on the airline website directly. Then speak to a consolidatory flight expert like our luxury concierge agents, who may be able to quote you significantly cheaper for Business and First Class flights.
2 Book Sale Tickets
Most airlines offer sales from time to time, and if you add yourself to their mailing lists, then you will be notified when they have a sale. Recently, British Airways launched a sale which upgraded your seat from Business to First Class for free one way. Join or keep an eye on frequent flyer sites for sale tickets. If a deal is good enough, the guys on these sites will find it and post it. By following these sites, you can ensure that you don’t miss out.
3. Book Unusual Routings
Travel blogs tend to keep readers up to date with incredible fares that involve traveling via hubs that you might not have thought of to snag long-haul tickets on the cheap. It is often cheaper to fly from European hubs to Asia. When flying to Asia from London, it tends to be cheaper to fly with Qatar in Business Class via Doha’s Hamad International Airport, than flying on British Airways direct. The Qatar QSuites are similarly good to British Airways First Class, so you can book Business Class and get a First Class experience in these suites.
By choosing to fly Qatar and by booking an unusual route, you can get to Asia in a comparative First Class for the price of Business Class. If you want to fly from the US to London, consider first arriving at an Irish airport or a European hub and then taking a low-cost carrier to London, it could save you a great deal of money.
4. Upgrade With Miles
You may not have enough miles to pay for the entire First Class flight, but if you book in the class below your preferred seat, you may be able to upgrade your ticket using your frequent flyer air miles or points.
I regularly fly on British Airways, and you can read my First Class, Business Class and Premium Economy reviews to work out which class you prefer. If you want to fly with British Airways in Business Class from London to New York and already have a ticket, then you can log in to “Manage My Booking” on BA.com, select your flight, and choose to ”Upgrade this flight with Avios”. If there is reward availability in the next class, you will find it here.
If you booked your ticket through a travel agent, you will need to check with your travel agent to see if your booking can be upgraded with Avios.
If you have not yet booked, you can use the BA.com ‘book and upgrade’ form to search for availability and get a price for booking and upgrading with miles at the same time.
5. Upgrade At The Last Minute
You can get a cheap upgrade at the last minute if a cabin is under-sold. To take advantage of this possibility, you have to book a Business Class ticket, and you have to be prepared to fly in Business because this upgrade is not guaranteed. But equally, this is probably the cheapest way to travel in First Class for cash.
How do I upgrade at the last minute? By checking the airline website or app the week before you fly. On BA.com you can do this on the ‘manage my booking’ page. If this doesn’t work, try for an upgrade at the airport. Ask if any paid upgrades are available as you check-in. Upgrades at the airport will cost a fraction of the usual price.
Very occasionally, airlines hand out free upgrades. Although this is rare and tends to be reserved for frequent flyers on that airline who have tier status, it is worth reading our 10 essential tips on how to get a free flight upgrade to give your upgrade chances a boost.
6. Book Early
You should upgrade at the last minute but always try to book your flight as far ahead as possible, and when you spot a sale, plan ahead and book your ticket when you spot an offer. British Airways tends to release flights a year in advance. With the exception of sales, this is almost always the cheapest time to book.
7. Book flights at unpopular times, days & seasons
First Class flights tend to be cheaper during school holidays, particularly Christmas and August, as airlines cannot fill their Business/First Class seats at these times of the year.
Avoid school holidays and weekends on sunny routes. For city breaks to working towns, the reverse is true. London, Brussels, and Zurich are cheaper to stay in and travel to on weekends and during the summer holidays. Paris empties out in August with the French going on holiday, making this a comparatively quiet and cheap time to travel to and visit Paris. Avoid peak business travel days like Monday (morning) and Friday (evening) since these are the most popular times for business people to fly, increasing prices.
8. Be Open To Offers From The Airline
If your flight is delayed, canceled, or overbooked, let the airline agents know you are happy to wait a day or two to fly out or return for an incentive. For example, if you are booked into Economy, the airline may offer to cover your hotel and upgrade your seat. Economy to First is not unheard of.
9. Use Frequent Flyer Miles
If you have enough miles, you can fly First Class purely using your frequent flyer miles or points collected via credit cards. Credit cards also sometimes offer upgrade vouchers as a bonus for hitting certain spending on your card so you can get half the miles required if you use a Buy One Get One Free voucher. You can also convert points like American Express Membership Rewards into air miles, boosting your mileage balance.
It is worth noting that the availability of these mileage seats can be low, and redeeming miles for airline tickets often means that you still have to pay a surcharge for taxes and “fees,” so these flights are not completely free.
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