When The Best Business Class Is Cheaper Than Economy…

I’m a big fan of fifth freedom routes (where an airline from one country has the right to fly between two different countries), as they’re a great way to add some spice to an otherwise boring trip.

My single favorite fifth freedom route within North America is Cathay Pacific’s New York to Vancouver route, which provides proper longhaul international first class service when traveling coast-to-coast.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class
Cathay Pacific first class 777-300ER

Philippine Airlines also recently started flying between the two cities, though I can’t say I’m quite as keen to fly them on the route. 😉

Another airline with a tag flight between the US and Canada is Brazilian airline TAM, which flies between New York’s JFK Airport and Toronto.

The route is operated 4x weekly on a Boeing 767-300, with the following schedule:

JJ8102 New York to Toronto departing 11:15AM arriving 1:00PM
JJ8103 Toronto to New York departing 4:35PM arriving 6:30PM

As luck would have it, TAM also publishes the cheapest business class fares in the market, by a long shot. Would you rather pay $84 to fly TAM’s longhaul business class product, or more than 10x as much for Air Canada’s regional jet business class?

Fare

Looking at the fares, the premium for business class over economy class is only $20. And take a look at all the miles you’d earn for this ticket as well — 7,500 miles one-way, which more than justifies the ticket cost!

TAM-JFK-YYZ-2

Bottom line

Of course TAM can’t win on schedule, since they only have four flights in each direction every week, as opposed to the dozens of frequencies offered by other carriers. But if the schedule works for you, this is a value that’s really tough to beat.

A trip to Toronto is in order, I think!

(Tip of the hat to Samuel)

Comments

  1. Looks like that 7500 points is only in their own Fidelidade program. Which I have never seen any info on.

    Still quite a deal. Maybe AC will have to start competing a little there.

  2. @RakSiam

    hardly so… NYC-Toronto flights are about frequency, AC has a huge advantage over TAM.
    plus most people just choose convenience and fly Porter anyway. you literally land in downtown Toronto. no other airline can beat that.

  3. Lucky, do you mind me asking how do you find these cheap/mistake fares? I can see they’re from Matrix – ITA (if I’m not mistaken), but is there any way to set up a sort of “notification” on these or is it purely based on luck when you’re searching for some fares? Thanks!

  4. @Bob: TAM’s mileage program is very, very overpriced for redemptions in premium cabins. Thus not worth it IMHO.

  5. This price is one way JFK-YYZ correct? YYZ-JFK seems to be around 130, and a return becomes 210-220 depending if you start in JFK or YYZ.

    Might be a good if you need a bit extra BA Tier points cheaply and have Nexus and Global entry.

  6. 7,500 TAM points are useful for flights on TAM or LAN (within S. America). Otherwise, they’re not getting you much. Also, TAM points expire after two years, regardless of activity.

  7. If bonus from hitting the various lower tiers is included it seems you can do it with 5 R/T flights

    At 15K points your earn 25% extra and at 50K points your earn 75% extra.

    So if my math is correct for around 1K USD you get:
    7500+7500+9375+9375+9375+9375+13125+13125+13125+13125=105000 Tam points + OneWorld Emerald status?

    Did Lucky just find the A3 of OW?

  8. @Lucky
    It seems Tam have 5 weekly flight on this route when searching on ITA matrix Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat?

    Seems the price is going up after May 16, but many R\T flights are still 327 USD.

  9. OMG, Delta, UA, and AA must be up in arms over the competition!!! They should file a DOT complaint asap, ME3-style.

  10. This was around for several years operated as a LAN flight. Same deal – great rates on the fifth freedom YYZ-JFK rtn. As a novelty and maybe for points value this is cool (preclearance in Toronto T3 even without Nexus/Global Entry also takes the pain out of JFK customs on arrival, too) but as others have mentioned, this is a frequency route with dozens of hourly flights between YYZ and YTZ into LGA or EWR or JFK on all Canadian and most US carriers it’s certainly not a winner to operate. For TAM it’s maybe a bit of cost recovery at best. Also the only lounge in the US preclearance area at YYZ T3 is an icky AA one.

  11. I flew LAN JFK->YYZ several years ago which was a tag on from a JFK->SCL route. Sat in Y but it was still a much nicer experience than the CR7s that AA or DL flies.

    For $84 in J if that ever fit my schedule then wow.

  12. @Lucky

    Have you studied Tam award program? Any good?

    I can only get the award chart to display in Portuguese so are guessing here a bit.

    But if I’m reading the OW partner award charts right and classe executiva means J, US to Australia return is 150K points or to say it in another way 13 segments JFK-YYZ? Would that not make it even cheaper than buying Alaskan miles?

    Award Charts
    http://www.tam.com.br/b2c/vgn/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=3f676ae6fd4a4310VgnVCM1000009508020aRCRD

    http://www.tam.com.br/b2c/vgn/img/fidelidade/comoresgatarpontos/comoresgatarsuapassagem/pt_resgatedepontos_executiva.png

    http://www.tam.com.br/b2c/vgn/img/fidelidade/comoresgatarpontos/comoresgatarsuapassagem/pt_resgatedepontos_primeira.png

    Regions definition
    http://www.tam.com.br/b2c/vgn/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=01d91e3780513210VgnVCM1000000b61990aRCRD

  13. @mark

    Angle flat seats and Brazilian catering on a under 2 hour flight from JFK? Brazilian trolly dollies would probably not be a bad thing either if you swing that way

  14. @cincpac1c

    Nope, 15K points are in Tam own award program. They use regional charts rather then miles flown so you get the same amount for flying JFK-YYZ as flying JFK-GRU, seems like the people that schedule their flight do not talk to the people who do their award program. Stupid, don’t expect this high earnings to last.

  15. @ mark — I consider flying a TAM 767 to be more exciting than flying an American or Air Canada regional jet.

  16. @ No Name — Yep, that is indeed correct. Potentially lucrative, if you are really patient and want to shuttle between JFK and YYZ, and trust they won’t change their chart.

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