New FlyerTalk Premium Fare Deals Forum

It has been over a decade since I’ve flown longhaul economy class, and that’s thanks almost exclusively to miles & points.

Air-France-Economy

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

Alaska-First-Class-Fare

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.

American-A321-First-Class

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.

FlyerTalk-Premium-Deals

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?

Comments

  1. Absolutely. Why shell out 125,000 SkyMiles (as an example) to book a ticket 11 months out on random dates that happen to possibly work for you when there might be KLM or Air France availability when you can book business class from the West Coast for under $2000 and get a sizable chunk of qualifying and redeemable miles?

    This thread is enormously helpful. And domestic first is often a no brainer if you value sitting up front. Not to be a DL shill (but someone’s gotta counterbalance your AA fan fiction, Ben!), but it’s surprising how inexpensive it can be to fly cross country via Atlanta in BusinessElite in a flat bed on a widebody for well under $1000. Paying $1000 for a crappy domestic first seat (say, on one of AA’s unreconfigured 757’s where the first class seats literally predate the George H.W. Bush administration) is harder to justify, but on the routes where you get bang for your buck, absolutely.

    And don’t forget Mint!

    Bottom line, while it’s been harder to automatically or use instruments to upgrade these days, it’s substantially more accessible to buy first class outright.

  2. Cancelled using MP business class tickets for three to Italy this summer when you published the story on the R/T tickets to Europe for $1450 in business. No brainer for me the way I saw it.

  3. The narrowing of the gap between business and economy fares, coupled with the substantially reduction in award availability has me convinced that the mileage/loyalty game is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Next month I am going to Amsterdam with BA in Club World and I got to pick the dates and times I wanted and I paid less than $1,800. The alternative was to attempt to book an award ticket, which would cost 100,000 miles and $1,200 in fees, and the date choices could be counted on one hand for each of the next three months. So for an $600 I have complete flexibility (at least for a six month window), the most direct route, and the ticket will get me 1/6th of the way to AA EXP – plus I end up with 135,000 more miles than I would have if I tried to use an award.

    You still need to be somewhat flexible to take advantage of low premium fares, but if you want to go to Europe from the West Coast awards are becoming almost a myth – and if you hope to take your family you might as well forget it.

  4. Haven’t booked a premium international flight yet (but have been checking out the thread/forum and searching on ITA). Have paid for some domestic J/F tickets and used paid upgrade offers though.

  5. Why shell out 125,000 SkyMiles (as an example) to book a ticket 11 months out on random dates that happen to possibly work for you when there might be KLM or Air France availability when you can book business class from the West Coast for under $2000 and get a sizable chunk of qualifying and redeemable mile?

    Because “under $2000″(but not a lot under) goes a long ways toward hotel and food expenses for a vacation trip?

  6. Yes that thread has saved me, as well as, cost me money. I’ve booked tickets because it’s such a good deal but no interest in the destination….

  7. booking way in advance earlier this year, we got First/BusinessFirst tix SFO/IAH/SJO (Costa Rica) for $200 more r/t than economy (around $900 r/t as opposed to around $700) – not a hard decision to make!

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