Business Class on a Budget

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  Have you had the feeling lately that airline seats are getting narrower? That they’re getting closer together? Have you ever been trapped in a window seat, with no hope of making your way to the bathroom? Do you always lose the battle for the shared armrest? Maybe it’s time to move up, up to business class.

  Business class travel will mean different things to different airlines. Amenities may even vary somewhat, between domestic and international flights, within the same carrier. For the most part though, you can expect a fair amount of comfort from your business class experience. Also, like so many things in life, a little effort can go a long way when it comes to saving big on fares.

     Retail fares for business class usually run very close to-if not the same as-first class fares. For that reason, many of these premium seats remain unsold right up to flight time. Until recently, most airlines would dole these seats out as complimentary upgrades to frequent fliers. Lately however, more and more airlines sell empty premium-class seats at a discount. Usually, the longer you wait, the better the discount.  Of course this strategy has some risk; wait too long and you may get shut out.

   Many airlines offer last minute email specials, even to those not part of their frequent flier program. Email offers usually go out within two weeks prior to departure. These deals can go fast though, as often there are only a few seats at the discounted price.

     Another way to snag a low fare would be the old-fashioned way. Check fares daily and book early. Prices go up and down on a regular basis. By checking fares frequently, you’ll have a better shot at recognizing a bargain when you see it. Even if you’re not a hundred percent certain that you’ll be traveling, it won’t hurt to buy in advance as most premium class tickets are fully refundable.

     Probably the simplest way to land a great fare would be to use a travel professional. Some agencies now specialize in fist and business class travel. These wholesalers may offer steep discounts off full fares, regardless of the airline, or route involved. Using a travel wholesaler also has a definite upside. In all likelihood they’ll get you a deal at least as good as, but probably better than, what you might be able to do on your own. You won’t have to check prices daily for two or three months prior to departure. The agency will do all the heavy lifting, and you’ll feel confident that you scored the best possible price.

     So first or business class travel may be much more within reach than you imagined. Whether you prefer to find them yourself, or have someone find them for you, the deals are out there.

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