How to fly business class for the price of economy

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In an ideal world, wed all love to travel in business class. Business offers leg space, delicious food, the ability to sleep in an appropriate horizontal position and, most importantly, Champagne on tap - which all culminate in a very civilised flight experience. Sadly, money doesn't grow on trees. But fear not: it is possible to swindle business class seats, minus the business price tag. Heres how:

1. Join a frequent fliers programme

Airlines offer upgrades to their most loyal flyers. To join a frequent flyer programme, simply sign up online. If you don't actually fly that often, get an airline credit card that gives you reward points for purchases- most credit cards will reward you a certain amount of points for money spent. The advantage of accruing miles via your credit card is that it generally gives results quicker than using a loyalty programme; not everyone flies constantly but youre probably going to be using your card every day. However, it is worth considering that these credit cards may charge an annual fee and of course, the benefits are maximised only if you pay off your balance on time.

2. Use your air miles for upgrades

If you've racked up air miles but not enough to earn elite status on your loyalty programme, or you dont have quite enough for a free flight, spend those points on an upgrade instead.

3. Check for last minute updates

Depending on availability, you can sometimes upgrade your ticket at a discounted rate roughly six hours before your flight time. Call your airline to see if any seats are available last minute in business class; the cost involved can be as little as 150pp.

4. Keep your finger on the airline pulse

Business class seats frequently go on sale, so keep your eye out for them by signing up to newsletter updates with your favourite airlines.

5. Consider your flight dates carefully

The prices of business class seats are dictated by supply and demand, so you're more likely to secure a better price if you fly at a time other business class customers are not looking to travel. Beware of flying at weekends and school holidays!

6. Use a travel company to get the best deal

Booking flights and securing the best deals are second nature to travel experts so they're in a fantastic position to get the best deal for you. Booking with a tour operator also means your flights will be protected with ATOL legal bonding, so that if youre delayed etc. you don't have to worry about making other arrangements; your travel expert is obliged to organise travel logistics for you.

7. Fly from another European city that offers better rates

For example, flying from Norway, the Netherlands and Italy to a long haul destination can be a lot cheaper in business class. This is because they don't tend to fill the seats so easily from these points and also taxes are a lot cheaper.

8. Offer to be ‘bumped'

If you've got no pressing time constraints to reach your destination, offer to be bumped on an overbooked flight. You'll usually be re-scheduled on another flight with business class seats and get a great experience.

9. Look fabulous!

Wear your Sunday best and smile. Dressing up smartly is an unofficial but often successful way to get upgraded to that business class seat. Compliment the attendants and put on the charm, but be sure to make it authentic!

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group.

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