Turkish Airlines’ business class cabin is known as one of the top offerings in the industry. Five course meals, in-flight chefs, lavish amenity kits, personalized service, and lie-flat seats abound in the front of the plane, at a level one won’t find in American and European airlines.
Though this usually costs 7 to 10 times as much as economy class, there is a way to fly in business class for a discounted price.
When you check in to your flight, at the check in counter, look for signs advertising business class upgrades. Even if there isn’t a sign, ask the agent if there are business class upgrades available. In my two experiences, I saw both. In Delhi, upgrades were being visibly advertised for $300, which for a nearly seven hour flight is a tremendous deal, though at times the seats are not fully lie flat for this route. In Houston, I asked the agent personally and was offered a $750 upgrade (which now costs $999), which I snatched. For a nearly twelve hour flight, it’s well worth it, in my opinion.
There are some restrictions to this. It seems that only flights to Istanbul offer the upgrades, so if you are leaving Istanbul, you’re out of luck. Also, Star Alliance award tickets are not eligible, the tickets must be paid Turkish Airline tickets. And most importantly, there need to be seats available to upgrade into. This means chances are better if flying in the off-season, such as September-November, and January-February.
There are reports of other airlines such as Etihad and Air India offering upgrades as stated in this Wall Street Journal article here, but none have the easy way of simply upgrading at check-in. Offers are sent through e-mail auctions of you have to go to the airport the morning of the flight.
The overall lesson is if you want to fly business class at a significant discount, fly Turkish Airlines, arrive at the check-in three hours before, and hope that there are seats available to upgrade into. Good luck!