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How to Decide Whether to Splurge for Business Class

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Over the last year, I have started doing something I have never felt comfortable doing in the past. I’ve booked a handful of international flights in business class. I refuse to upgrade my kids, but I’ve booked upgraded seats for myself, my husband, and my parents.

My change of heart can be blamed on a few too many miserable overnight flights in economy. However, I have also felt emboldened to spend miles more liberally lately. My husband’s business pursuits are helping us earn 30,000 to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per month, so we are earning miles at a much faster rate.

Would I ever book a premium cabin on a domestic flight? Probably not. I get upgraded to premium cabins on domestic flights due to my elite status, and the difference isn’t that great other than a little more leg room and better food. But on international flights, you have the potential for a lie-flat seat. Plus, you’re flying longer and have more time to enjoy it.

But, I also know my limits. For example, neither my husband or myself mind flying economy during a flight that doesn’t include an overnight leg. So, I have been booking a better cabin for our overnight flights and economy for the ride home. That seems to work for everyone — at least for now.

If you’re trying to find your own strategy to burn or conserve miles, here are a few tips to consider:

Determine how many miles you have

Should you upgrade yourself to a business class seat? It all depends on how many miles or flexible points you have and whether you have enough. Before you decide to splurge, take stock of the points and miles you have. If you’re short on the points you need, you can also consider signing up for a co-branded airline credit card or a premium travel credit card that lets you transfer points to airlines.

How easy is it for you to rack up more?

Also consider how easy or difficult it is for you to earn more miles. While some people play the manufactured spending game to rack up more points, not everyone has the time or desire (I know I don’t). Credit card signup bonus rules also make it so it’s significantly harder to earn a ton of miles on a whim. Before you fork over all your points for a fancy trip, make sure you have some idea how long it will take you to replenish your stash.

Splurge now or save miles for another trip?

If you’re a frequent traveler like me, you also have to think about “next time.” If you spend all the miles you’ve accrued in one fell swoop, that could mean paying cash for flights the next time you want to go somewhere.

Then again, it’s possible you want to plan the trip of a lifetime with no expense spared. Maybe you’re booking a honeymoon or an anniversary trip and you want every minute to be special. In that case, you don’t have to feel bad burning all your miles. That’s what they’re there for, right?

The Bottom Line

I’m a lifelong economy flyer, but I am just now at the point where I am okay forking over more miles in certain cases. I still feel like I’m wasting miles when I book a premium cabin, but I am starting to get comfortable with the idea.

Only you can decide when to splurge and when to save your miles, and you should never feel bad. Just make sure you have a plan to earn more miles in the future, whether that’s through flying, credit card signup bonuses, or creative credit card spending.

 

How do you decide whether to book a premium cabin with miles?

Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson is a financial expert and award-winning writer whose obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel plays a central role in her work. In addition to serving as Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for inspiring…
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  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first 3 months.†
  • Earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you reach $30,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in the calendar year.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding and enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit.
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  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club® Access.‡
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