a glass of liquid next to a glass of liquid

Round trip business may be crazy expensive, but one way…

Here’s something you already know: some flights are longer than others. Here’s something you didn’t know: roughly 40% of passenger enquire about flight upgrades when they check in for a flight. Everyone has their own quirks as to which flights they’d love to snag the ultimate upgrade on, and the answer is it doesn’t matter which one you’d like. What matters is how you look for it. There’s one definitive advantage to searching directly with airlines, versus looking on other sites, and it’ll soon be abundantly clear to you, that you can quite often upgrade your travels in a very reasonable way, by combining fares.

a glass of liquid next to a glass of liquidThe Premise

Frustratingly, to say the least, online booking sites classify you from the start. You’re either looking for economy, premium, business or first class – and once you start, that’s what you get, the entire way. But what if you only really care about getting a better seat one way? During great sales, business class, even on super long flights, can be only marginally more expensive than economy, so why get lumped into one or the other, when you can have both? The thing is, people get foolish before flights, and pay unholy amounts of money for a last minute upgrade, when they often could’ve paid half or less, if they’d just shelled out in the first place. Sometimes it’s the difference in $200, versus more than $1000 at check in!

a row of seats with monitors on the backThe Solution

Combining cabins can generally only be done by booking tickets directly with an airline, rather than on sites like Expedia, Orbitz and co. If you find a great economy deal, and a great premium economy or business class deals for the same dates, you can select the cheap economy flight one way, and then select the heavenly business class flight with beds and lounges going the other direction. And if you’re a real posh-o, you can select business one way and first the other. Here’s an example where we choose business for the outbound, and economy for the way home.

a screenshot of a flight ticket a screen shot of a flight schedule a screenshot of a websiteHow To Do It

Go to your favorite airline (note, not every single airline may allow this). Start a search, after checking a handy resource like Google Flights for deals in both cabins. Start your search and don’t select a cabin. Doing so will generally mean all cabins are displayed. Pick the fare you want one way, and then pick the fare you want the other way. You’ll quite often see times when airlines are charging a fortune for business or premium in one direction, but the difference isn’t actually all that bad versus economy going the other way. This is a great way to “turn left” for a lot less.

Have you combined cabins to save on an airline ticket?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Aren’t you just paying the difference for half the flight? ~$1000 for return first class, or $500 one way.

  2. As a travel hacker, you’re example doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Why pay about an extra $1,000 on the outbound to fly Delta1, when the return portion is less than $500? I get that you might have other underlying reasons, but we travel hackers are not reasonable people when it comes to snagging the best deals

    1. The return fare in business in this example is £1450. By flying economy one way, your total is £950. Not £1000 one way.

  3. I love doing this with overnight flights to Europe. A daytime return in “comfort” (or even coach) seems bearable; but not sleeping on the way over ruins a couple days for me. So flatbed business over and coach back gets me just enough “practical” luxury.

  4. This is actually a really good way to experience Business or First at a relative fraction of the cost of a full Business or First fare. For me usually i would do the economy if my flight is a late or overnight flight as i don’t care about too much if i’m just sleeping and i will upgrade on the day version of the flight. Truthfully it does save money, you just got to remember to use the airlines website instead of the others out there!

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