How Much More Expensive is Business Class Compared to Economy?

Singapore Airlines Boeing 787 10 Business Class Middle
Read this article in German on Travel-Dealz.de 🇩🇪

Is it on purpose that airlines let economy passengers on long-haul flights walk past business class seats when they’re boarding? Whether this is the case or not. It’s hard to come up with a better and cheaper marketing strategy. Once passengers have arrived at their seats and see how small and narrow the space is that they’ll spend the next couple of hours, everyone has similar thoughts: I wonder how much more expensive a business class ticket would have been?

We here at Travel Dealz look for the cheapest economy, business, and even first class flights on a daily basis. Therefore, we’re pretty good at estimating prices for flights to worldwide destinations and tried to answer the questions based on our experience. And here’s what we’ve come up with:

A ticket for a trip in business class will typically cost three to four times as much as a ticket for an economy class flight.

Sure, it really depends on your destination and how much competition there is on a specific route. Also, it will make a difference from where you can depart. Some airports within Europe just get you better deals than others.

That’s why this is not an exact science, and we tried to provide an average for pricing on select routes. Consequently, there will often be wiggle room, and you might have seen lower fares. But in general, we think that the ones mentioned below give a good idea and are suitable as reference values.

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DestinationEconomy ClassBusiness ClassDifference
North America
East Coast€350€1,400+ €1,050 (400%)
West Coast€450€1,700+ €1,250 (378%)
Hawaii€650€1,900+ €1,250 (292%)
Mexico€450€1,800+ €1,350 (400%)
Caribbean€450€1,600+ €1,150 (356%)
South America
Brazil€450€1,500+ €1,050 (333%)
Columbia€500€1,600+ €1,100 (320%)
Chile€600€1,900+ €1,300 (317%)
Africa
Zanzibar€450€1,500+ €1,050 (333%)
Kenya€450€1,600+ €1,150 (356%)
South Africa€500€1,800+ €1,300 (360%)
Middle East
Dubai, Abu Dhabi€400€1,100+ €700 (275%)
Oman€450€1,300+ €850 (288%)
Iran€550€1,600+ €950 (273%)
Southeast Asia
India€430€1,400+ €970 (326%)
Thailand€450€1,500+ €1,050 (333%)
Singapore€500€1,700+ €1,200 (340%)
Hong Kong€500€1,650+ €1,150 (330%)
Bali€600€1,900+ €1,300 (317%)
East Asia
China€450€1,600+ €1,150 (356%)
South Korea€500€1,700+ €1,200 (340%)
Japan€550€1,900+ €1,350 (345%)
Oceania
Australia€900€3,000+ €2,100 (333%)
New Zealand€1,000€3,300+ €2,300 (333%)

Conclusion

Flying in business class is certainly not a bargain. Not even with the dealz that we find and promote. But then it is definitely a more pleasant experience than sitting in economy class for 10 to 12 hours, knees digging into your chin.

On an aircraft, space equals money. And as a business class passenger, you will take up the same room that 3 or 4 economy class passengers get. As a result it is reasonable to increase prices for seats in the front. So, if business class is way out of your league or if you’re just not willing to pay that much more, there’s still another way you can go:

Premium economy class. It’s a gateway to business class and might cover all the points you’ve got on your checklist. See what you can expect in our premium economy comparison.

FAQ

Is business class worth the upcharge?

Compared to prices that airlines charge for seats in economy class, the extra money you’ll have to spend is definitely justified. You’ll enjoy considerably more space, eat better food, benefit from better service, and usually have a lie-flat seat that allows you to sleep during your flight. After a 12 hours flight in economy class – maybe even overnight – you’ll often need a day or two to recover. But if you got some shut-eye on the plane, you can be productive right from the start. That’s why business people tend to fly in premium cabins. And it’s also where the name business class comes from. If you’re the type of person that travelers once or twice a year for pleasure, it might be better to invest the money into a better hotel. Since you’ll spend more time there.

Is it cheaper to upgrade your flight at the airport?

That depends. Many airlines offer upgrades at the airport if there are seats available before boarding. However, this doesn’t mean that those seats will be just given away. Depending on the route, you can expect the carrier to charge somewhere between €500 and €1,000 per oneway flight if you want to upgrade to business class. In that case, it could be much more reasonable to purchase a business class ticket in the first place. Also, you know that you’ll fly in style for sure. This is great since, after all: Anticipation is the greatest joy.

Can I get a free upgrade?

You might have heard of some trick that you can use to land a free upgrade to business class. They are all over the internet. And sure, in some select cases, these tricks might have actually worked. But they are far away from a guarantee that you will really get that nice seat in the front of the aircraft. Even if a flight is overbooked – the main reason why airlines give away free upgrades – there are often guidelines that decide how gets them. Often, customers with costly economy class tickets or frequent flyer status will be the ones to benefit.
A good (even if not wholly free) option is upgrading with vouchers or miles and points.

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Comments (11)

  1. While I do not dispute the general conclusion, I do want to add the twist that during high season the difference can be a lot less, e.g. travelling to the US for Christmas where the ratio can drop to 2:1.

    Reply

    • Hi Lucretius! Yes, that’s definitely true. And one more reason to keep an eye open for discounted business class tickets😊

      Reply

    • Hi there! I’d say that depends on the frequent flyer program. Fees and taxes might be very high, making it less of a good deal to redeem your points for a business class ticket. And if you’re looking to upgrade, you might have to buy an economy class ticket in a costly booking class. But in other cases, it can be a steal, sure.

      Reply

  2. Premium economy had declined with their cabin service. 4 flights this year with rushed service. No pre take off drinks. Economy meals 3 options. Plastic glasses for all drinks.
    Indications are that some airlines are improving with service and food – others are doing cost cutting whilst increasing fares.

    Reply

    • Hi Robert, thanks for your comment! You’re right; some airlines are trying to get the most out of premium economy class passengers. On the other hand, at least you’ll get that extra space. But it’s not always worth it, I agree.

      Reply

  3. Avoid Ambiguity.
    Let me know premium economy Lufthansa
    Mumbai frankfurt, Newark, Chicago, Boston Newark, Mumbai

    Reply

  4. So it doesn’t make any sense to pay so much extra for so little. After all you could get more space by simply booking 2 economy seats, in the extra leg room section.
    I have traveled extensively over the past couple of years and travelled economy every time and I am glad I did business class is a rip off.
    How can you charge 3 to 4 the price and offer less than 50 % more ?

    Reply

    • Hi Nigel! While there is absolutely nothing wrong with traveling economy class (many of us here at Travel Dealz do so all the time😊), I wouldn’t agree with you on the idea that booking two seats in economy will get you the same experience as business class. The higher price comes typically with a lie-flat seat, better food, higher baggage allowance, and (at least sometimes) better service. So on long-haul flights, it can make sense to pay extra. If we’re talking about European short-haul business class, I’m with you — no need to pay for business class here.

      Reply

  5. Why Business if you could fly First. If First is available I would always go for First.

    Reply

    • Hi there! Sure, if you can land a first class ticket for the price of a business class flight – why not😊

      Reply

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