Would You Pay $579 to Upgrade to Swiss Business Class? Of Course, the First Class Upgrade is Much Higher!

a seat in a plane
Written by Charlie

Swiss business class is a really great experience! On a recent flight, there was the option to upgrade from economy to Swiss business for $579. Would this be an option you would take?

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

Swiss business class throne

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?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Awesome deal! All of my points and miles are used only on economy flights in order to stretch it. So personally, this is well worth it to splurge at some point.

  • Have flown Swiss business and would be awfully tempted to pony up the $579 to do it again, especially if I had some travel credits to use.

  • I can see why there weren’t takers. Since it was westbound, and the flight was empty you could probably be comfortable spreading out in economy. (I’d have paid it though.)

  • Not worth it. I’ve flown Swiss in business on LHR-ZUR-BKK and return and it is a poor business class product, small footwells, way too little space between seats, pitch 60″ against a good 80/90″ on the better airlines.

    Food ok but they ran out. OK if cheap, as in very cheap but not on par with the ME3 by a country mile.

  • Y to J I’d take that offer 100% of the time. I think that’s a great price…especially if on an award ticket. The $2k from J to F no way. I couldn’t justify the cost for slightly better food and seat.

  • On my flight last June on BA SFO-LHR they were offering Business Class passengers the option to upgrade to First Class for $500. Even though I was flying in Business Class using miles, I didn’t do it because I didn’t think it was worth it. On the surface, that is cheap, but for what you get in BA F, I wasn’t going to pay $500 to sit and sleep in a better seat and get slightly better food. I’d much rather spend it on a good restaurant or a better hotel room.

  • It depends….

    Last year I flew from LAX to ZRH then to BUD on Swiss Air in Business Class, Throne Seat. Because it was a night flight AND more than 12 hours then it is worth it on any airline. But if it was a daytime flight and I was flying out from the East Coast where it is only a 8 hour flight….then no as it is too short a flight. The main reason for Business Class is to go to sleep.

    Pretty much any flight to from the US to Asia and the Middle East is worth it especially on the Asian and ME airlines. East Coast USA to Europe is not necessary worth it because of the relatively short flights but also because the European airlines are just barely better than the US airlines.

    • I just published a new post on why Turkish Airlines business is my go-to and one of the reasons is the time in the air. I am completely with you on the short timeframe for East Coast to Europe. With Turkish, it helps make a little more sense!

  • Flights from ZRH-NYC are not worth CHF/USD 500 plus when going to NYC. Even in return leg during night, it is a 7-8 h flight. I barely get 4 hours for rest, and watching couple of movies for 500 bucks to use on something else is tempting.

    Having said that, return tickets from Swiss/United/Delta have been available for 1000-1200 this is best option if you know your travel plans 9-12 months in advance.