Srilankan Airlines Upgrade – the Cheapest Way to Fly Business Class

by | May 6, 2016 | South Asia, Sri Lanka | 7 comments

We had a big day of travel flying Wellington to Sydney then Sydney to Bangkok on the way over to Southeast Asia. After those long, uncomfortable flights in economy class we were dreaming about being upgraded to business class so we could be able to stretch out our legs and travel in comfort. Thankfully, our dreams came true!

Alas, it wasn’t for free (we are still holding out for the day when we hear some magic words at check in saying we’ve been bumped up for free) but we only had to pay $125 extra each to get business class flights with Srilankan Air from Bangkok to Colombo through their awesome auction/bidding process.

We got our first taste of the finer side of air travel in business/first class when we used points to fly Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic last year so when we saw we could bid for an upgrade with Srilankan Airlines we thought why not?

What to bid for Srilankan airlines upgrade to Business class?

The lowest bid possible was $125 so we stuck with that and crossed our fingers there wouldn’t be too many other people bidding for that day (sometimes the winning bids for these can be several times as much and the site indicated our bid had a “poor” chance of success). We did get emails prompting us that we may like to increase our chances by increasing our bid but we stuck with the cheapest possible and got it anyway. It is really all a matter of chance – if nobody else bids for those seats then you’ll get it with the minimum bid.

If we had paid full price at the time of booking we would have paid about $700 USD each for business class flights for this route but instead we won our bid and got business class flights for a total of about $315 each when you added the $125 upgrade to the price of our original economy flights. Under half the price and well worth it to give ourselves a break from those tiny seats we had been squished in the day before.

I just looked at what the cost might be for our Colombo to Hong Kong flights and the minimum bid there is $200 per person. You can see what the bidding site looks like below…a bit more expensive but still tempting at $200 USD for the cheapest bid.

So what was business class like on Srilankan Airlines?

We got all of this included:

  • Priority checkin and a special security line (which turned out to be a bit crowded and slow anyway because of the lack of people on the immigration desks)
  • Access to a lounge with free food, alcohol and wifi
  • Priority boarding
  • Champagne and other drinks on board (…which we couldn’t make the most of as neither of us are drinking alcohol right now with Dayna pregnant and Matt abstaining in solidarity…for now)
  • Massive leg room in comfy seats (could only reach the seats in front at full stretch)
  • A decent breakfast including fresh croissants (breakfasts on airplanes are always the worst meals to have there so we probably would have enjoyed lunch or dinner much more but oh well)

Srilankan Airlines’s business class didn’t really rival Virgin’s upper class but it was still a super comfortable way to fly with lovely staff as well making it an enjoyable flight. They were so attentive coming around regularly to offer drinks and hot towels at takeoff and landing. The last flight we were on was with Qantas where a few of the staff would only begrudgingly come help you after 20 minutes of having the attention button pressed so having such polite, lovely staff made a big difference. That may have been just a Srilankan Airlines vs Qantas difference though.

Usually I get off a flight limping from having my knees trapped up around my ears in those tiny airline seats (which I swear get smaller every year) but I got off this flight comfortable and happy. Well worth chucking the minimum bid on for the upgrade I think – I just wish all airlines offered the same auction process!

Too bad we’re back to flying economy again (but still holding out hope that we’ll get upgraded for free one day!).

Have you flown business/first class before? What airline do you think has the best one?

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