The problem with business class redemptions is this – they used to be easier to find (meaning cheaper). Pre-pandemic, I found them routinely for about 70K miles one-way. Lately, it seems that they are harder to find for that price, especially on United.. As things continue to settle down and airlines find more people willing to work, it will get easier. (🤞) In the meantime, what can one do?
United has always been my go-to for flights to Europe. I was looking for flights for people hoping to travel out of Chicago today, and business class seats were about 155K each way! Yikes! They wanted to travel during May – September, so they had a lot of flexibility, one would think. However, looking at the 30-day calendar during those times, there were no cheaper business-class seats. If I looked at October – April, I found quite a bit of availability.
The take-home message for me is to look to travel from October – April if you want business class seats. I am sure there will be some that pop up here and there as United opens up more reward seats, but I believe it will be more difficult to find cheaper flights for a while.
Economy class seats do not seem difficult to find. If you have to pay more for a business class seat one-way to travel at a peak time, maybe you can travel one way in economy class. You might even have the option to upgrade to an economy plus or comfort seat with cash on that flight.
Point.me and AwardWallet both offer concierge services where they charge to find you those hard-to-find seats. Sometimes, it is absolutely worth the money to turn the search and booking over to someone else, especially when you have points/miles, so you aren’t paying much other than taxes and fees.
We do offer $100 consults to show you how to book but won’t do this for summer or holiday travel business class seats just because they are so hard to find. We basically show you our processes for looking but do no bookings.
Occasionally, different airlines will offer a decrease in the cost of booking an award ticket in business class. Flexibility is key when this happens, and if you can travel during those windows, you can really save. We will alert you via IG or our Facebook Group when we hear about these instances.
Just this week, we’ve posted alerts on our Facebook Group, and our close friends’ IG account for ATA students about a great deal to London from LAX-LHR in business and the Turkish Miles business class offers that are also good for a short time from certain cities.
Award Hacker is free and can get you started in the right direction. However, what it shows may work may not always be available so take it with a grain of salt. It has helped me at times, though. You can find more about this service in our post about booking award travel.
We talk about positioning for a flight a lot. We often fly on a cheap ticket to Chicago or NYC and pick up a cheaper award redemption from those airports. Another great plan is to fly to Europe and then take a cheap flight from a major European city to where you “really” wanted to travel to. If flying in a business class seat is your main focus for the long haul part of the trip, look from different cities.
I recently was looking at traveling to London next October with few results. If I flew out of Seattle (position there from Denver) and then flew on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul for a mere 45K in business, I could then take a cheap flight to London. Ideal, no! But it does get me over to Europe cheaply and in business class. The longer you are in the points and miles game, the better you will get with creative searches.
I found flights to Athens from Seattle for the same price in business class. Maybe I should go there first and spend some time in Greece before going to London? Always a thought!
The problem with business class redemptions is that they are harder to find for cheaper costs right now, but there are ways to work around it. If you are just one person traveling or a couple, you will have fewer problems. We hope that you will find one of our workarounds helpful until things ease up a bit.
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