The 9 Most Affordable Airlines To Fly in Business Class
Flying business class is a luxury most of us fantasize about from the time we book our tickets to the time we debark, hurting and exhausted, from the economy cabin. Of course, perks like lounge access and legroom are tempting, but the cost of an upgrade is usually too hard for the average traveler to justify. Luckily, it doesn’t always have to be. Not only can you look out for Z-class fares, business tickets sold at discounted rates, but a number of airlines also consistently offer great prices on premium seats. If you want to take your next trip in style, put these carriers at the top of your to-fly list.
1. Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines flies to 120 countries, more than any other airline, and services a total of 302 destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It makes getting to dream destinations like Budapest or Bangkok a whole lot easier and getting there in business class a lot more likely. Travelers have booked round-trip itineraries for as little as $1500, which is a bargain considering premium seats on international flights can easily cost three times that much. No matter where you’re headed next, Turkish Airlines probably flies there, so keep your eye out for killer deals.
2. Hawaiian Airlines
You can get from Los Angeles to Kauai for under $500, or NYC to Tokyo for around $1500 in the Extra Comfort cabin (a hybrid between economy and business) if you play your cards right. Naturally, you’ll get the most bang for your buck in the off-season, but Hawaiian Airlines is also competitive during summer and over the holidays when everyone jets off to get their tan on. Consider the carrier if you plan on traveling to Hawaii, Asia, or the South Pacific in the near future.
3. Jetstar Airways
There’s something contradictory about flying business class on a budget airline, but it’s probably your best bet if affordable prices are your priority. Jetstar Airways is a low-cost carrier and subsidiary of Qantas Airlines. It flies between North America, Asia, and Oceania, offering premium seating on select international routes. There’s no denying you’ll get the budget-business treatment, meaning no fully lie-flat seats, but you’ll still get way more sleep than you would in an economy cabin.
4. British Airways
Treating yourself to business class on British Airways is a great way to channel your favorite Downton Abbey aristocrat without breaking the bank. The airline is a solid choice for transatlantic flights and makes getting from US hubs to European cities in the Club World (business class) cabin for under $2000 surprisingly doable. AARP members also have access to up to $200 discounts, which can go as high as $400 during special promotions.
It’s almost worth flying business class to Reykjavik for the breakfast spread in Keflavik International Airport’s Saga Class Lounge alone. Little touches like hot towels and chilled Champagne make all the difference when you upgrade on Icelandair, especially if you’re traveling internationally. The carrier flies to most major European cities, and has done a lot to market itself to North American travelers in recent years, so you might just come across an offer you can’t refuse.
JetBlue is like the Wild Turkey bourbon of airlines: it’s cheaper than so-called top-shelf alternatives without sacrificing its quality, promising something both affordable and smooth. Travelers with high standards and low budgets can opt to fly premium (regarded as business class rather than economy plus) with JetBlue Mint, which has had coast-to-coast deals for under $500 in the past. You can also keep an eye on seasonal flights to the Caribbean from Boston or NYC.
7. Aer Lingus
You don’t need the luck of the Irish to get good business-class deals on Aer Lingus. It goes without saying that the airline is an obvious choice for flights to Ireland, but it’s also great for flights between the US or Canada and continental Europe. Business-class seats aren’t always cheap, but Aer Lingus regularly beats out its competitors on transatlantic routes, making it a great airline to get you across the pond.
8. Norwegian Air
Norwegian Air advertises itself as the best low-cost airline in the world for long-haul flights. That’s a big claim, but the carrier has a long list of awards to back it up. Norwegian Air is perfect for budget travelers looking for a little more comfort within the three-figure price range. For a bit more than you’d pay for economy, albeit still less than you would on other airlines, you can enjoy perks like armrests you don’t have to battle your neighbor for and legroom that actually lives up to its name.
Avianca is huge in Latin America. There’s no escaping it when searching for flights to Bogotá or Buenos Aires, which is a good thing considering it generally has great offers on both economy and business seats. I was recently upgraded on an Avianca flight from Montevideo to Lima, and the cushy cabin and premium meal plan nearly spoiled me for my connecting flights. While you may not have the same luck that I did, the service, in general, is great and you may snag a similar deal ahead of time.
A version of this article was previously published on April 18, 2018, and was updated on February 9, 2022.