How to Fly Business Class for Economy Prices

Business Class flights come with so many perks. More leg room, better meals, lounge access - if only those flights didn't cost thousands of dollars!

That doesn't mean you have to pay Business Class fares to fly Business Class though. That's where points and airline loyalty programs come in. 

So how do you fly Business Class for the same price as an Economy Class flight?

1. Earn a lot of airline points from credit cards

There are several airline loyalty programs that provide opportunities to book Business Class on points. Aside from actually flying these airlines, you can also accumulate points through credit cards. Let's walk through a few examples.

Example: Earn Aeroplan miles to fly EVA Air Business Class

Aeroplan is Air Canada's loyalty program and is by far the easiest program for Canadians to earn points. There are multiple cards from American Express, TD and CIBC that earn Aeroplan miles and come with a high sign-up bonus.

As an example, take the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. This card will scare you off at first because of the $599 annual fee. But, as a new customer, you can earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan miles after charging $1,000 per month for the first 6 months of owning the card. That's enough a one-way business class trip to Taipei on EVA Air:

You're essentially getting a business class flight to Asia for $599!! A quick google search shows that even the Economy Class flight is $1,202:

Keep in mind that almost all cards that will allow you to accumulate over 75,000 Aeroplan miles in less than a year will come with a high spending requirement and at least $399 annual fee. I'd recommend signing up for these cards only if you have a plan for meeting minimum spend and want to take advantage of Business Class flights.

Example: Earn Alaska Air miles to fly Japan Airlines Business Class

Alaska Air is another program that has certain sweet spots to Asia in Business Class and First Class. Depending on the airline you want to redeem, there are ways to find business class flight award availability. One of the easiest airlines to redeem on Alaska Air is Japan Airlines, which often has Business Class seats available if you book in advance. As an example, here is Vancouver to Tokyo available for only 60,000 Alaska miles, which is a lot fewer points required to Asia than Aeroplan:

If you'd like to learn more about how to maximize flight rewards with Alaska miles, check out Points Nerd who has thoroughly looked into each Alaska Air partner airline.

Credit cards that earn Alaska points include the Alaska Air World Elite MasterCard, as well as the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card which earns Marriott Bonvoy points that can be converted to Alaska Air miles.

Example: British Airway Avios

British Airway Avios has sweet spots to certain destinations in Europe as well, which can be earned through any American Express card that earns Membership Rewards (such as the Amex Cobalt) or converted from RBC Rewards points (such as the RBC Avion Visa Infinite). For more insight on how to redeem Avios rewards, check out this post by Prince of Travel.

If you have specific destinations in mind...

...Check our some of my other posts that outline how to get Business Class flights in more detail:

Earn Aeroplan Elite Status and use eUpgrade credits (Air Canada only)

eUpgrade credits are a nice way of (sometimes) saving points on Business Class, though they are significantly harder to get unless you actually fly frequently. Basically, Air Canada awards a certain amount of eUpgrade credits when you achieve Elite Status. The lowest tier of Elite Status is Aeroplan 25K, which comes with 20 eUpgrade credits + potentially 5 extra eUpgrades if you elect it as one of your bonuses. As you move up the chain to 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite, you will get the option of accumulating more eUpgrades.

Typically, one would achieve Elite Status through being a frequent flyer, but you can also achieve Aeroplan 25K through accumulating 100,000 EDQ Aeroplan miles, or Every Day Qualifying Aeroplan miles. Currently, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card makes it easiest to achieve EDQ as the welcome bonus points count towards EDQ. Alternatively, you could also try to sign up for the Reserve, TD or CIBC premium Aeroplan cards before October 15 and achieve $10,000 spend before November 30 to get Aeroplan 25K status.

Air Canada allocates a certain amount of business class seats for people using eUpgrades on their Economy or Premium Economy flight. Depending on the class of flight, your eUpgrades either enter you into a lottery for an upgraded class of seat. Or, if you book the right class of flight, your eUpgrades can guarantee you a business class seat.

According to this eUpgrade redemption guide, an Economy Latitude Fare or Premium Economy Flexible fare not only requires the least amount of eUpgrades, but also will confirm immediately if space is available. This applies to Aeroplan flight rewards as well, which can make it a great way to circumvent points-heavy Business Class rewards flights.

Generally, you will need 4 eUpgrade credits each way for a North America business class flight, 11 eUpgrade credits each way for North America to Europe, and 13 eUpgrade credits for North America to Asia. As you can see, the sweet spot is North America long-haul.

Example: Use eUpgrade credits from Canada to Hawaii

Hawaii is a great way to take advantage of eUpgrade credits, as it is technically part of North America but will usually take 8+ hours to get to! Take Toronto to Honolulu as an example. If we look up a one-way flight on March 15, we see that the Economy flight is 18,300 Aeroplan miles, while a Business Class flight is 59,300 miles:

Now the 59,300 miles for Business Class is not a terrible way to use your Aeroplan miles. The same flight is showing up as $1,161 cash, which works out to $1,161 / 59,300 = 1.96% return on points.

However, if you check the eUpgrade filter, you'll see that eUpgrades are available for the Economy Class rewards flight. Furthermore, the Latitude fare requires only 32,100 points and 4 eUpgrade credits. Remember, Business Class is not guaranteed if you book the Standard or Flex reward:

That takes your return on points from 1.96% to 3.6% and saves 26,800 Aeroplan miles that could be used towards another flight!


Discounts and price errors on Business Class flights are hard to find, so the next best way is to accumulate a lot of points and redeem them on Business Class flight rewards. Aeroplan and other rewards programs make it possible for many of us to enjoy being at the front of the plane without the hefty price tag.


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