When you travel long distances like we do, you often wish you could do “Business Class” all of the time or even “First Class” some of the time…

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest business class upgrades how to and perks

Executive First Class – It doesn’t get any better than that!


Wait just a minute, hold on… There are a few different ways we found to enjoy the good life while travelling the world and flying around to get to these hotspots. Here are a few good pointers we can pass on and a few anecdotes you might find amusing…

Get a Credit Card that Offers Airline Loyalty Points…

Whatever form of traveller you may be, the first rule is to use a travel reward card to rack up points when paying for just about everything along the way. And we do mean everything. We’re not just talking about paying airfare or hotels, we use our points card for groceries, online shopping, gas, big purchases, etc. Not only can you exchange these points against flights, but we’ve found that the extra points needed to get you from coach seats to the plushy and wide front row offering aren’t that much more than the points cost of economy/coach seats.

In our case, we use Aeroplan, Air Canada loyalty program. There was a time where these points got you a lot further for your buck. The new points reward scheme gets you to the same places, but at a 5 000 to 10 000 extra points per flight segment and you’ll still have to pay for taxes, flight surcharges and fees out of pocket or against further point gouging on your account.

Regardless, there are still good deals to be had, you just need to compare with regular flight prices before using points. We noticed that if we stick to flights within North America, we get a better bang for our buck and we can also opt to include the airport charges to be paid with our points. Before we book a flight with points, we always check with Skyscanner, we use this website all the time, not only do we get the best airfare pricing out there, we use it to compare prices as regards to using points vs. cash.

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest Business Class Upgrade How-to & Perks

Another important factor is dressing for the occasion….

This may seem weird to you, but the occasion is indeed welcome when you fit the part. Business class travellers aren’t usually dressed in a t-shirt and flip-flops. This said, we’ve been bumped to business class a number of times throughout the years, and it’s not all about airline clout, point status or frequent flyer benefits. As an example, let’s say you’re on an economy in country flight, you might not realize that locals benefit from substantial discounts when flying in their homeland. This said, when push comes to shove, they will bump full fare customers like us to the big comfy seats up front.

This has happened to us on many flights…

Such as from Santiago-Chile to Easter Island-Chile and on other similar in country flights from The Galapagos back to mainland Guayaquil in Ecuador. In other instances, we’ve had flight personnel invite us forward just because we’re nice or they’ve noticed we’ve been on a number of consecutive flights, we look clean and well-behaved and who knows, maybe we just help balance the weight… It’s not always clear why you end up being bumped, but in any case, it’s a nice bonus that you can’t always plan for, but it’s certainly a welcome one you come to enjoy.

Sometimes these upgrades lead to unexpected perks…

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest Business Class Upgrades How-to and Perks

Mr.Ford – Row 1

Imagine my surprise, returning from The Galapagos, when once again we’ve been asked to change seats from 23 A/C to 2 A/C… A quick shift forward, overhead bags and all and, we were now seated comfortably in the “Nice Seats”. Once seated, there we were, drink in hand, waiting for take-off. Another 10 minutes went by, seats in row 1 still unoccupied. Of course, we expected some other lucky souls to join us in the front. That’s when Nathalie noticed a family arrive on board, not just any family I might add. The words out of her mouth to me were literally: “Shut up!”. I lifted my head and the occupants of row one were none other than the Ford Family, as in Harrison Ford — AKA: Han Solo, Indiana Jones, The Fugitive’s Dr. Kimble and others kinda comes to mind real quick!

Yes, business class can be nice but not particularly that much more interesting until you realize it’s Harrison Ford, Callista and son sitting in front of you. It was a fun experience, to say the least, and no I didn’t manage to muster up a conversation with the dude!

Over the years, in business class, we’ve sat next to Georges St-Pierre, the famous mixed-martial arts and ultimate fighting champion and also on the sports side of things, flown with the Montreal Canadian’s hockey team as well. We’ve been given a bottle of wine (take home) on our honeymoon to NYC and we’ve enjoyed too much Haggen Dazs ice cream on all these occasions… And, not to forget, our Canadian astronaut, Chris Hatfield’s brother Dave was the captain on an Air Canada flight we were on, from Santiago to Buenos Aires, kinda cool if you’re a nerd like myself.

Added benefits? How about that Lounge…

Some added benefits go beyond the actual flight. Business class tickets give you access to select airport lounges as in the “Maple Leaf Lounge” if you happen to be flying Air Canada or any Star Alliance airline. These privileged airport rest areas offer beverages, light snacks and more, they have good Wi-Fi, TV’s and a heap of magazines and newspapers to keep you busy. Another interesting mentionable is the private bathrooms, showers and the all-around hotel feel you don’t get from waiting in the airport terminal’s common areas.

Also worth mentioning, you can always buy your way into these lounges if you’re stuck on too long a layover, the price may end up being more reasonable than a 6-12 hour hotel stay nearby the airport when you start factoring in all the extras like cabs, travel time, and meals.

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest business class upgrades how to and perks

Chilling in first

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest Business Class Upgrades How to and Perks

Harrison Himself

Marquestra Mid-life's Couples Quest to Travel Pinterest business class upgrades how to and perks

All Rested and Ready

Don’t Miss Out, Stay Connected…

Lastly, when you’re connected to your flight info with your phone, stay on top of last minute alerts that may provide cheap seat upgrades for last minute takers. We’ve splurged on some flight this way, moving our way from economy to “Executive First” on a 15.5-hour flight to Australia from Vancouver. In this case, the added fee was well worth it. A bed on a plane, wild mushroom risotto when you wake up… Who could resist.

What’s Your Take on Business Class Upgrades?

Leave a comment or write to us, we’d love to share your stories as well…