It has been over a decade since I’ve flown longhaul economy class, and that’s thanks almost exclusively to miles & points.
The truth is at this point I just won’t fly longhaul economy unless I really have to. And since my schedule is usually extremely flexible and there are so many ways to fly premium cabins on miles, I haven’t really had to up until now.
But nowadays miles and points aren’t the only way to get into premium cabins for relatively cheap. One other trend I’ve noticed over the past few years is that many paid first and business class fares have become more reasonable. This has happened in two ways:
- Economy fares have risen substantially, so by comparison many premium fares seem cheaper
- Rather than only selling premium seats at full fare prices and then upgrading people to empty premium seats, many airlines would rather outright sell those premium seats at a more reasonable rate — we’re especially seeing this on domestic flights, where first class is often only marginally more expensive than economy
While I don’t think I’ve ever paid for first class domestically, I think this is an area where it’s extremely common. Nowadays it’s not unusual to see a roundtrip transcon for ~$1,000 in first class, while going back a decade (even during the darkest time in the airline industry), they were typically more than double that.
Anyway, my point is that over the years I have found there to be cases where outright paying for a premium cabin is a better deal than redeeming miles. For example, I’ve booked relatively cheap first class fares out of Cairo and Colombo, for travel on some of the world’s best airlines, for a fraction of what they’d otherwise cost.
Earlier in the year I even did some mileage runs in paid first class, whereby I was earning redeemable miles for less than two cents each.
One of the best places to keep tabs on the best premium cabin fares has been the Good Deal Premium Fares Thread on FlyerTalk. I don’t read FlyerTalk all that much anymore, though I do check that thread every day.
It’s a bit disorganized, since it’s a single thread dedicated to hundreds of different fares. While that’s perhaps not ideal, it’s also not necessarily a bad thing, since it keeps the deals a bit more “hidden,” and perhaps therefore keeps them alive a bit longer.
Well, it looks like FlyerTalk has now added a Premium Fare Deals Sub-Forum. Rather than having a single thread dedicated to all premium fare deals, they’re now be listed by fare in individual threads.
If you are interested in premium fare deals I’d definitely recommend checking out the sub-forum. Keep in mind it’s brand new, so will likely get more interesting over time.
It’s hands down the best way to keep up with the best premium fares out there, be they cheap domestic first class fares, cheap one-way fares departing from somewhere outside the US, or cheap transatlantic flights which can be made even cheaper with AARP discounts.
Have you booked a discounted premium cabin ticket in lieu of an award ticket in recent years?