Getting Business and First Class Flights For Less

by Barbara Nevins Taylor

When we began to plan our vacation we immediately looked around for relatively affordable business class flights. We felt willing to pay extra for a long overnight flight. But price did matter.

I discovered AARP Travel, and to my delight it offered a variety of regular and business class flights that seemed much cheaper than those listed on other sites.

Expedia actually powers the site for AARP, so it’s easy to use. After I entered my destination and dates I got a range of airlines to choose from and tickets, all roundtrips, for about $2100 per person. But the longer I procrastinated, the fewer options I had.

Finally, Nick and I agreed to pull the trigger on our trip. That meant we had to pick a flight immediately since we were about six weeks from our travel time. We lucked out. Swiss International Airlines, formerly SwissAir, offered a good deal if we added a stop in Zurich. The price for two: $4090.12.

On our travel date, we checked in at the lounge to await our flight from JFK to Venice via Zurich and Nick went to check the departure time. Amazingly, he came back to say, “We’ve been upgraded to first class. I think it was my blue blazer and straw hat.” Whatever. Lucky us!

Swiss International’s first class has seats that seem like self-contained boxes. Even though we sat side by side, we felt cossetted in our own little pods.

Switzerland prides itself on service and boasts excellent training for chefs and hoteliers. So it delighted us to discover that we benefited as passengers on the Swiss national airline, now owned in common with Lufthansa.

The flight attendants actually stopped to chat. They were gracious and eager to please, and charmed us. The food on the flight surpassed the usual gop; it looked and tasted more like what you would order in a good restaurant anywhere in the world.

But the sleeping arrangement was the best. The chairs in the pods folded down completely and the flight attendants laid down quilted pads and gave us warm white covers. And in our cubbies, we found packaged sleep clothes by Zimmerli of Switzerland, whose website proclaims, “The world’s finest underwear since 1871.”

The black sweatpants and pullover tops felt comfy and easy to sleep in.

We caught a couple hours of sleep, ate some yoghurt and fruit and enjoyed the scenery over the snow-covered alps.

We landed in Zurich and spent about an hour waiting for our next flight to Venice. All in all, Swiss International Airlines gets our five stars.

You can read about our trip to the Balkans here.


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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.