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Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before Upgrading to Business Class

A plane flying to the left

Image source: Upsplash/The Motley Fool

Flying has become a bit of a nightmare these days thanks to overbooked planes, cramped seats, and a glaring lack of amenities. After all, in some cases, you’re not even guaranteed to be able to stash a backpack in an overhead bin.

Because of this, it’s easy to see why so many people are willing to pay a small fortune for business class. With a business class seat, you can spread out, relax, get some sleep, and enjoy a good meal without having to bang elbows or share hip sweat with your seatmate.

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But the cost of business class can be so high that it may be the sort of thing you can only do on rare occasions. Case in point: A roundtrip flight from the New York City area to London on United costs $607 for basic economy, $1,053 for refundable economy, and $7,819 for business class the week of Sept. 8 (note that prices might differ depending on the time of departure).

Even if we take the difference between refundable economy and business class, that’s a cost of over $6,700 — enough to pay for an entire trip itself. So if you’re going to upgrade to business class, it’s important to make it count. Here are three questions worth asking yourself before you spend the extra money.

1. How important is it to get sleep on the flight?

If you’re flying from the U.S. to Europe on an overnight flight, getting some shut-eye on the plane could spell the difference between enjoying your first day at your destination or spending the bulk of it in a groggy haze. If your travel schedule is such that it’s important to get a decent amount of sleep on the plane, then charging a business class ticket to your credit card could be worth it.

But let’s say you’re flying from New York to California at 10 in the morning. You may get bored on the plane, but you probably also don’t desperately need to sleep during that six-hour flight, since it coincides with when you’d normally be at work or going about your day. So in that case, you may want to save the money instead.

2. What will I have to give up during my trip to upgrade my ticket?

The cost of a business class upgrade won’t always be $6,700 like the example above. But you can bank on paying a fair amount more for business class. So before you spring for that costlier ticket, ask yourself what you’ll need to give up during your trip to cover the higher price tag.

If paying for business class means having to stay at a less convenient hotel for six or seven nights, you may decide to deal with a less comfortable flight but enjoy a nicer stay at your destination. Similarly, if skipping business class means having more money for great meals and excursions, you may decide you’ll suffer the seven hours or so on the plane but enjoy seven days of fun.

3. Will a ticket with extra legroom suffice in keeping me comfortable?

One perk of flying business class is getting to enjoy a nice meal, as opposed to the stingy little snack your economy class counterparts may be getting. But in many cases, the primary benefit of flying business class is the more comfortable seat. Before you pay for one, think about whether upgrading your economy ticket to a seat with extra legroom will get the job done.

Remember that ultimately, a business class dinner is one you’re eating on a plane. If you hit a bout of turbulence while chowing down on your filet mignon, it’s probably not going to be any more enjoyable than the bag of pretzels you’d get in economy. So figure out if paying for extra legroom is enough to make your flight bearable.

A business class seat can make your next flight more comfortable, but it’ll come at a cost. So think carefully before handing over that money. And if you do decide to fly business class, see if you can redeem points from a travel rewards credit card to offset the cost.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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