Ask Away: Think like a business traveller

Eli Orzessek answers your travel questions.

When is the best time for travelling Business Class, and how can I get the best deals on tickets? I’m not a businessman, but I’d like to travel in something other than Economy for a change — but somehow avoid forking out too much.

We’ve all got that desire to be up the pointy end of the plane, but when you’re comparing prices, suddenly “cattle class” doesn’t seem too bad. As great as Business Class is, I’d never want to pay full price for it — it’s still just a seat on a plane. According to my contact Kelly Hull at Expedia, the key to saving money on Business Class fares “starts with thinking like a business traveller, then doing the complete opposite”.

Expedia’s annual ARC report analysed thousands of airline data points to work out when it’s cheapest for Kiwis to fly Business Class — and significant differences in price often come down to two things.

The day you book: By booking on a Saturday or Sunday you have more of a chance of locking in a lower ticket price. When comparing the most expensive day to book with cheapest day of the week, it can result in price fluctuations between 15 and 120 per cent.

The day you depart: The cheapest day to depart in Business Class is generally a Friday or a Saturday.

“The majority of people travelling in Business Class for business purposes fly out and return during the working week, and they are also locking in their travel during the week,” she says.

“Finally, while it is often thought that cheap prices can be scored last minute, our data busts that myth. The cheapest Business Class fares are booked 91 or more days out from the date of travel.”

A lot of the travel industry/travel writing works on the assumption that budget travellers are 20-somethings, and old people are flush with cash. What are some good options for old budget travellers who perhaps don’t want to stay in hostels full of young party animals?

I think hostels get a bit of an unfair reputation in this regard — I’ve stayed at plenty that have been quiet and clean. Obviously you wouldn’t want to sleep in a dorm room, but private rooms are always a good option. The key is to research well before you go — read reviews online and you’ll get a good idea of the vibe of the place.

However, private rooms in hostels can sometimes be expensive and if you’re travelling with more than one person, I think Airbnb is the best option. When I travelled with my 80-year-old dad to Germany last year, we stayed in Airbnbs the whole time and never paid more than $150 a night between the two of us — in some places, well under $100.

And we’re talking whole apartments, not rooms in a shared house. They were all very comfortable and in great locations.

In some cities though, Airbnb has a bit of a bad reputation for disrupting the rental market, so it’s up to you to decide whether you think it’s ethical in your destination. For our stay in Berlin, we were charged an additional tax,
which I think is very fair.

Readers respond:
Carole had a suggestion for last week’s query about a brief stopover in Bangkok, before heading to Pattaya: “Plai Gardens boutique hotel is five minutes from the airport, they pick you up and drop you off whatever the time and it is only 800 baht ($37) a night. I am a woman who often travels alone, it’s a great little stopgap.”

Email your questions to [email protected]
Eli cannot answer all questions and can’t correspond with readers.
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