Swiss has a great business class experience and a somewhat legendary first class experience. Would you pay $579 to upgrade to business class with Swiss? You may have the opportunity on some flight!
Would You Pay $579 to Upgrade to Swiss Business Class?
Light Business Class Loads
I am not sure why this is, but I have found that January presents some excellent opportunities for award tickets in business class with Swiss. In fact, the only awards I have booked with Swiss have been in January due to their great availability.
So, it was not a really big surprise to find that, on a recent flight from Zurich to Newark, the business class cabin was quite empty. In fact, before we started the boarding process, the agents were announcing that there were business class upgrades available, as well as upgrades from business class to first class! Even though I was already flying in business class, I had to at least find out the cost of these upgrades and if they would apply to anyone.
The Cost to Upgrade from Economy to Swiss Business Class or First Class on My Flight
The agent said that anyone in economy, including those on award tickets, could upgrade to business class for $579 for the one way flight. If you wanted to go from economy to first class, you would have to pay the $579 to business and then the upgrade cost to first class. The first class upgrade price was quite a bit more – $2,000 to upgrade from business to first!
While I have never flown Swiss First Class, I cannot imagine that the experience is worth the $2,000 price tag to move up from business! On the other hand, I could definitely see the value of upgrading from economy to business class for $579.
(Side note – I have always found the economics of air travel so funny. I would never consider a hotel room for $579, even though I could stay in it for 24 hours, yet hearing the cost of $579 to go from economy to lie-flat business class actually sounded like a deal!)
No Takers on the Upgrade Option!
I was surprised that no one took up the agent on the offer since it was a late evening flight and an over 9 hour flight. Then again, $579 isn’t exactly cheap either! Since you would be paying this at the gate before boarding, you would not be able to take advantage of the Swiss lounge or the extra baggage allowance. You also have already gotten through the check-in and security process so you would not be able to enjoy priority access through those areas either. Instead, you would essentially be getting the benefits of the lie-flat bed and an upgrade dining experience. Yes, both are very good on Swiss!
Only Twice the Cost of the “Throne” Seat Selection!
Consider this in the pricing as well – up until 48 hours before the flight, Swiss wanted $240 for the “throne” seat selection from business class customers. For just a little more than twice that, you could instead buy up from economy to business class and get the throne seat!
Do You Have a Chance at Upgrading?
I am not sure how much Swiss charges for other routes and if the cost depends on the number of empty seats. It would seem that this is a somewhat regular charge for Zurich to the New York area so if you are flying that in economy at some point, it may be worth asking.
You could always look at Expert Flyer before your flight to see how many seats are still unsold in business class to get an idea if you would be able to get an upgrade to Swiss Business Class.
The good news is this – if you do take advantage of it, you could use a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or US Bank Altitude Reserve and have the cost get absorbed a bit by your annual travel credit (if you have not already used it).
While I personally would not pay it, I can certainly see situations where it would be totally worth it. For instance, if you have meetings or a busy schedule shortly after landing, it can make a lot of sense to arrive rested. It can also be a big help if you may have a close connection on a flight you have to make (I did and if I had been sitting in economy, I certainly would never have made the flight). Are those things worth $579? Sure, to some people.
Would you pay $579 to upgrade to Swiss business class? What other upgrade offers have you heard for Swiss business class?