For many, it is a dream to travel in business class. This article will concentrate on ways to upgrade to business from the economy on Saudia Airlines and the cheapest way to do it.
The are many ways to upgrade to business class from economy, and I share the ones that work the best in this post.
However, Saudi airline is a great example, especially for pilgrims to Umrah, of expensive economy tickets but cheaper options to upgrade to business class.
The inspiration for this article came after my in-laws went to Umrah, and they managed to upgrade their flights from economy to business class on Saudi Airlines for four people and save a lot of cash.
Ways to Upgrade from Economy to Business on Saudi Airlines
There are two ways to upgrade from economy to business on Saudia that we know actually work and don’t require you to actually pay full price for the ticket.
1. Upgrading your flight with miles
I love miles since they have saved me thousands over the years and have allowed me to fly in business class or to have amazing experiences without the full price tag.
If you often fly on Saudi airlines and have enough miles, you can upgrade your flight with miles.
Basically, you buy your economy ticket, and then you redeem your AlFursan miles for a flight upgrade. This will depend on the availability and the ticket you have booked.
However, this takes a lot of flying and also the need to credit your SkyTeam flights to Saudi in order to benefit from using your miles for an upgrade.
This option works best if you live or work in Saudi and it is not the one we are concentrating on. However, I have to say that there are some sweet spots for flights using AlFursan points.
My husband has a good chunk of AlFursan points since he lives in Saudi and bought them during one of their sale points with 90% extra. These offers are rare but definitely worth it because the value of these points can be extremely good.
2. Upgrading via Saudi Airlines Bidding System
Many airlines have started this option where you name your price and if accepted, you get upgraded for a fraction of the cost.
I have used this system several times on Saudi and other airlines, and it is one of the best ways to actually get an upgrade, depending on availability.
Even travelling so many times in the year, I rarely, if ever, get upgraded from economy to business based on status in Europe.
But with the system of bidding for an upgrade, it is a win-win for airlines and passengers.
I have a full review of the Saudi Airlines business class here.
How does bidding on Saudi Airlines work
The process is very simple when it comes to bidding for paid upgrades on Saudi airlines.
You can also check if you can upgrade on the Saudia website here.
You have to book an economy ticket, I normally book directly with Saudia simply to guarantee the email that will offer an upgrade but it is not necessary. Even third-party bookings will receive that if they have your email on their system.
I have had a ticket booked via a third party that didn’t receive the email for an upgrade or wasn’t eligible, so if you want to really have more chances of success to get a business class upgrade, I would book directly on Saudia.com even if a little more expensive.
You will receive an email with the option to bid on an upgrade offer for your flight from economy to business.
This is a bidding process, so airlines want you to bid as high as possible. There is a sliding scale that shows you what your chances of winning the bid are.
Bid prices depend on the destination and airport departure. They are Fair chances, Good chances and Excellent chances depending on how much money want to bid.
This offer might not come for every flight, and normally it happens on flights that have spaces in business.
My husband and I have managed to upgrade several times this way.
I had never heard of Saudi offering an upgrade from economy to business for four people, but I guess my in-laws were lucky because their upgrade bid was accepted.
Since they are booked on one ticket, when you bid, you bid for all passengers under his booking.
But the price showing on the sliding scale is per passenger, not in total.
Typically a flight from the UK to Jeddah will have a bid starting at £550.
Every time we have been offered to bid it was around that price.
Normally it is in GBP if booked in the UK, but for some reason, my sister-in-law received her offer in USD.
Our flight in 2021 from Jeddah to Maldives was sent for £255 one way with a fair chance of an upgrade, I bid the bare minimum since I was not too attached to the outcome, and we didn’t win the bid.
You will receive an email if your request and bid for an upgrade have been approved. Or not!
My sister-in-law bid on the offer from Manchester to Jeddah, which came around 48hrs prior to their flight, but never received an email.
A confirmation email will be sent in most cases, but before your flight, you can go into manage your booking and see your class of travel.
They didn’t know they had been upgraded until they went to check in, and the agent told them they were in business class as their upgrade was accepted.
Agents don’t see how you upgrade, by the way.
They paid approximately £600 per person for the upgrade to a business class ticket. I will do the math in a second.
What really surprised me is that they went during the school holidays and managed to get four business class seats.
I guess not many people use this option to upgrade their Saudi flights from economy to business or many pilgrims are happy to go in economy.
But if you have elderly with you, it is a great option to upgrade. If you want to upgrade only one person, you must book that individual under their own ticket.
This way, you can avoid upgrading everyone else on the booking, as there is no way to remove passengers in the bidding process.
My in-laws managed to actually upgrade BOTH regs of their journey for Umrah to business class! This is basically them flying business but paying half price for it.
Paying for your upgrade is billed once the offer is accepted and should show in your account around the time of you flying since the offers are processed the same day as your flight.
You will also receive access to a business class lounge. My inlaws got access to the lounges in Manchester and in the AlFursan lounge in Jeddah airport.
Cost of bidding for an upgrade than buying an outright business class ticket on Saudia
The bidding option is much cheaper than paying outright for a business-class ticket. In most cases, this is a win-win for both airlines and passengers.
Airlines receive extra money for seats that would have gone empty and unsold, and you, as a passenger, get a better travel experience and also a cheaper upgrade.
I have saved thousands this way on business-class flights, and I will do anything possible, especially when flying over 8hrs.
In the above example of my in-laws upgrading to business, since it is fresh in my head, here is how the maths worked.
We looked at the cheapest options and booked direct with Saudia Airlines. They paid about £900 per person for economy flights from Manchester to Jeddah.
Bidding Upgrade offer that was accepted
- They bid “Fair Chances” on the scale from Manchester to Jeddah for about £600 per person.
- They bid “Fair Chances” on the scale from Jeddah to Manchester but offered around £650 per person because she wanted to get the upgrade.
The total cost of the flight was £900 + £1250= £2150 business class per person return with the offer accepted.
The business class prices for the same flight on Saudia Airlines were £3,800 per person because we actually looked at booking them in cash. We decided they didn’t want to as it was too expensive.
However, by using the offer upgrade method, they managed to not only fly business class but save a lot of money for 4 people.
This is almost half the price of the actual ticket that Saudi was selling.
Overall this is definitely the best and cheapest way to upgrade from economy to business on Saudia, but also it is one that requires a little luck.
I have lost bids on Saudi Airlines because I offered a fair chance on busy routes like the Maldives from Jeddah. So it depends on how busy the flight is, the duration and how many people have bid on the upgrade.
There are so many aspects you can’t control, and if you are really looking to guarantee yourself a seat in business, then you are better buying cash or using miles to redeem. You can check out my loyalty program guide for this.
More posts you migth enjoy
Saudi Airlines Business Class Review
New Saudi Transit Visa 2023 -Free Umrah & Accommodation
The Saudi tourist visa 2023 – Updated
Wellcome Lounge Jeddah Airport Review
The Impressive Saudi Airlines AlFursan Lounge Jeddah Airport KAIA