How to Fly Business Class on a Gap Year Budget

Jetsetting all over the globe on an around the world trip can be both fun but tiresome, particularly if you’re catching long-haul flights. It’s not surprising then that business people tend to spend the extra money on booking premium tickets in order to make their journey a lot more comfortable. With lie-flat seats, pre-flight champagne and complimentary amenity kits, business class is a whole different experience.

Of course, if you’re travelling on a Gap Year budget business class might seem unaffordable and out of reach, but it’s actually easier to bag a ticket than you might think. If you’re a backpacker or simply wishing to travel the world on a gap year budget, here are some tips for how to fly business class on a budget:

Travel Hacking

Lots of savvy travel hackers are flying business class for free purely through travel hacking. If you sign up for air miles credit cards you’ll earn points every time you spend, plus you’ll be given an instant bonus just for signing up. For instance, if you sign up for the British Airways Avios card you can earn 5,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 within the first 3 months of membership. There’s also the Lloyds Bank Avios Credit Card, which rewards you with double Avios for the first 6 months after opening your account.

You can also use simple methods to boost these miles, such as paying with certain online retailers or taking advantage of promotional offers. Once you’ve collected enough miles, you can use them to purchase a business class ticket or to upgrade from economy to business.

Use a business class flight specialist

Airlines usually charge a handsome sum for their business class seats, but sometimes if they haven’t had enough bookings there will be empty seats. Instead of offering discounted prices online (which could upset full-paying customers) they sell these empty seats through specialist travel agents. is one such agent, offering private quotes and exclusive fares that can’t be found online. Expect to pay up to 50% less than online prices.

Upgrade on the day

Another option is to bag an upgrade on the day. You’ll sometimes be offered an upgrade when you check-in online, or you can ‘bid’ to fly business class. Just set a maximum amount you’d be willing to pay and if the airline accepts your offer, you’ll soon be sipping champagne at the front of the plane. If you’re checking in at the airport it’s also worth asking to see if there are any business class seats free and if so, how much it will cost to upgrade.

Get bumped

If an airline overbooks a flight, meaning they sell more seats than are actually available, then they’ll often look for volunteers who would be willing to fly on a later flight. If you volunteer to be bumped you can negotiate compensation with the airline and they may even fly you in business class on the next available flight. If you find yourself bored at the airport, check out these things to do that will pass the time.

Look out for flight sales

All the major airlines run flight sales throughout the year on business class seats. Try to grab a bargain on business class tickets at certain times of the year, such as Christmas, Black Friday or end of summer specials. The easiest way to keep up to date with any flash sales is by signing up to airline newsletters or following their social media channels.

Know someone who works for the airlines

If you have a family member who works (or did work) for an airline, then they might be able to get you standby seats. When flying standby on Delta for example, you will often be upgraded to business if there are seats available.

Have you ever been upgraded to business class? Do you have any tips for getting bargain business class seats? Leave a comment below!

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