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Allergic to Steerage -- First or Biz Class air travel at a discount?

Allergic to Steerage -- First or Biz Class air travel at a discount?

Dec 8th, 1998, 06:35 AM
Posts: n/a
Allergic to Steerage -- First or Biz Class air travel at a discount?

Interested in hearing of the tactics employed by others to obtain first or biz class air travel at discount. Here are methods I've used:

1. The Obvious -- use FF miles to upgrade. Drawback: limited to those airlines with which one has accumulated sufficient miles, assuming they've got upgrade seats available when one needs to travel. Often works adequately for a single person; more difficult to get a couple (or more) upgraded on the same flight -- long lead time helps.

2. Companion tickets (these are the 'buy-one-first-or-biz-class-tix-and-get-another-free) -- The drawback to these terrific deals is they often aren't available when one wishes to travel; therefore unreliable but great as a hit-or-miss tactic.

3. AmEx Platinum Companion Ticket Offer -- another of the 'buy-one-get-one-free' offers. Limitations: only available to international destinations and only a few airlines participate. Still a good deal although the AmEx Plat card sets one back $300 annually.

4. Tour Companies -- sometimes tour companies can provide first-class seats at full-economy prices. I'm not sure how this works. One doesn't have to buy an actual tour, simply ticket through the tour company. I assume the tour company buys seats in bulk but I'm not certain. Limitations: doesn't work for all destinations (although Hawaii is a good bet) and early (very early) booking usually increases one's chances.

It's understood these ploys work best for leisure travel which is more flexible than is business travel.

What am I missing? Let's hear from y'all!

Dec 8th, 1998, 12:02 PM
Posts: n/a
"Allergic to steerage" ?? I actually have an almost foolproof way to get a seat in first class, but because of the underlying snobbery of the way you phrased your question--I'm not going to share my tip. When my method hasn't worked, I have no problem sitting with the "rabble" in "steerage." Only pretentious people cause me to have allergic symptoms( headache, cough, and wrinkling of the nose.)
Dec 8th, 1998, 01:16 PM
Posts: n/a
I see clarification is required. Flying in airline economy cabins certainly feels as if one is in steerage. The word steerage maligns the airlines; not those, including moi (who moi, pretentious?!) who are stuck for hours in uncomfortable, crowded conditions with pitiful air circulation . . . .

I'm willing to bet I'm not the only person who feels she's treated in a third-class manner by the airlines who create cattle-car environments.
Dec 9th, 1998, 07:43 AM
Posts: n/a
Sometimes, when you get stuck paying full-fare for Coach, you can ask about a "Business" upgrade -- I have gotten these on short trips (i.e, Baltimore to NY or Boston). Somehow it adds insult to injury to be jammed into coach when you (or your company -- I manage a dept budget and it hurts!)have had to pay hundreds of $ more.
Dec 11th, 1998, 05:20 AM
Neal Sanders
Posts: n/a
First, a note to nursebexter: there's nothing wrong with preferring to travel in business class or first class. It isn't snobbish and it isn't pretentious; rather, it's an acknowledgement that what's acceptable when you're 19 isn't necessarily still agreeable when you're 49.

Air travel has changed dramatically in the past quarter century. Today, the economics of aircraft and people's desire to see the four corners of the earth make it possible to get an $899 fare to Australia. I applaud the airline industry for doing so. But the tradeoff has been comfort: the economy class seat on a transatlantic or transpacific aircraft is 19" wide or less and the pitch is 27". If your flight is an hour and a half to Chicago, it doesn't, but if it's 12 hours to Cairo, it matters a great deal.

My apology for the diatribe... Kat, what you call "The Obvious" is also the best. We plan trips many months in advance and snag very low excursion fares, then upgrade to business class at the same time. For example, we planned our Reprobate's Thanksgiving getaway to Amsterdam and Paris back in May. Two $549 roundtrip excusion-fare tickets were transformed, with the exchange of 80,000 miles, into seats 8A and B for both legs of the flight. The lone downside was that we locked ourselves into travel dates six months in advance. The upside was that the published price of those tickets was more than $9,000. P.S.: both flights were sold out!

We found out about booking through tour companies on a trip to Egypt last year. The basic tour package was "x", for $300 more per person, we could have business class seats on a first-come, first-served basis. We took the upgrade. It made that 12-hour flight to Cairo bearable, but "bearable" on EgyptAir is a relative term.

Finally, there are brokers who buy and sell those companion ticket and other coupons. They run little one-inch ads in the travel section of the New York Times. We used them twice, but then began hearing about airlines denying boarding to people because the name on the voucher didn't match the name on the ticket. While they were a bargain (two round trip first class tickets to Hawaii from the east coast for $1200), I'd rather not have a vacation ruined.
Dec 12th, 1998, 08:23 AM
Cheryl Z.
Posts: n/a

I don't think Kat was pretentious at all; she was very generous to share her knowledge and experience. I would hope nursebexter will rethink his/her theory and also be so kind as to share his/her info with us too. (I personally have "severe allergic reaction" to screaming children, usually kicking seat backs-mine, uncontrolled by their parents in coach. Actually, it's the parents I put the blame on!)
Anyway, back to the subject - most airlines have a 24 hour policy and you can often call day before and get an upgrade, using ff coupons and/or paying a fee. We do this often. Our last trip to Hawaii, getting a cheap coach air fare to begin with, we used ff coupons/fee to upgrade over (I think the ff coupons were for my husband, the fee for me as his traveling companion), and then coming home, just paid a fee. I think I remember it was just $40.00 each to upgrade on the return. But you do have to be persistent. After confirming the upgrade on the phone the day before we departed, the agent at the airport wasn't going to honor our upgrade - said the telephone reservationist goofed. But my nice, smiling, cajoling husband convinced her.
Thanks to all who so generously share their experiences.

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