A Roundup Of Pretty Good Business Class Fares

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As the U.S. economy gets better and the airline industry has started to prosper, it’s no secret that miles and points availability is lackluster at best, with devaluations in full gear, and airlines particularly stingy about releasing award seats.

At the same time, we’re finding that while premium fares abroad are still generally quite expensive, there are a handful of unadvertised fare sales every few months that make purchasing a business class ticket outright a tempting proposition. Indeed, Ben has noted that if anything is devaluing the miles-and-points game in the near future, it’s the decent availability of reasonable business class airfares: rather than hunting and pecking for available dates, and struggling to find award space for more than one person, travelers can now opt to shell out cash for the exact dates they need.

We haven’t seen anything quite on the level of a gangbusters fare sale (say, West Coast to Europe for $1,500 in business class) in quite a while, but it’s worth noting — especially if you have summer travel on the horizon — that there are some relative deals out there. I figure it’s worth posting a quick roundup of deals available now — these aren’t red-alert, drop-everything-and-buy-now deals, but at the same time these deals represent substantial discounts off the “normal” price of airfare.

I’ll start with the fare I just booked this week:

Los Angeles / San Francisco to Athens, through May (Virgin Atlantic)

Google Flights is showing airfare on Virgin Atlantic via Heathrow (connecting to either Aegean or British Airways, neither of which are codeshares or partners) from the two major California gateways to Athens for ~$2,250. You may be able to book them online via Expedia, JustFly or Vayama (I’ve had mixed results), but they should be bookable by phone.

ATH1

ATH2

Because Virgin Atlantic doesn’t actually fly to Athens itself, you can’t book these fares on Virgin Atlantic’s website, but you can call the airline itself and they’ll book it for you for the price quoted on Google Flights; you can also call American Express or any other travel agency. Online availability on the travel agencies noted above is spotty at best, and oddly, each agency appears to have access to different inventory, but you’ll be able to save a couple of hundred dollars off the fare if you do snag them off those sites.

These don’t compare to the sub-$1,700 fares we’d been seeing this fall on SkyTeam, but, frankly, you’re not going to find a better paid airfare to Europe from California right now. Moreover, once you’re in Athens, you can pretty much get to anywhere else in Europe relatively inexpensively.

For me, though, this is an excellent way to rack up MQMs, since Virgin Atlantic is a Delta SkyMiles partner.

Chicago to Europe, through end of schedule (Star Alliance; SkyTeam)

If you live in Chicago or can get yourself to O’Hare, you can take advantage of some pretty decent business class airfares — mostly, fully bookable online — to major European gateways, with the lowest fares typically found on Wednesdays through Sundays. These fares are showing up through the end of schedule — which is to say, these fares are good for summer travel to Europe, not to mention fall/winter travel later this year.

You can fly to pretty much anywhere in Europe  for under $2,500, with some highlights including:

  • Dublin, from $2,180 roundtrip (via Virgin Atlantic and either Aer Lingus or BA; must be booked via a travel agency or by phone)

exORD2

  • Athens, from $2,200 roundtrip (United, Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish and Air Canada with Star Alliance; KLM and Delta with SkyTeam; it’s worth pointing out fares to Athens on oneworld carries are around ~$2,700, but if you have an AARP membership and the British Airways Visa Signature® Card you can bring the fares down to a competitive basis)

exORD1

  • Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin from $2,430 roundtrip (Aer Lingus)
  • Madrid and Barcelona from $2,430 (Virgin Atlantic; online only)

exORD3

Los Angeles to Cairo, through end of schedule (SkyTeam; Star Alliance)

There are some remarkable fares to Cairo available from Los Angeles in business class, starting as low as $2,200 and clustering around the $2,400 mark. If you’re brave enough to fly Saudia, there’s a lot of availability starting at $2,202 roundtrip. Otherwise, at just a bit over $2,400 roundtrip, you can fly to Cairo on Delta, KLM, Air France or Alitalia on the SkyTeam side or Lufthansa, United, Swiss or Air Canada on the Star Alliance side. This is not a bad deal if you have upcoming travel in the Middle East or Africa.

LAXCAI2

LAXCAI

At above the $2,500 price point I’d hesitate to call it a “deal,” but there is a good deal of business class availability to Tel Aviv on KLM, Delta and Air France for a little over $2,700 roundtrip. Star Alliance carriers are a bit more, hovering around $3,000 roundtrip.

Los Angeles to Singapore and Tokyo in Singapore Airlines Business Class

SIN1

A bargain, it may not be, but if you have $3,000 to throw around, you can find some itineraries from Los Angeles to Singapore on Singapore Airlines’ A380 (via Narita) in its extra-fancy business class for around $3,000. You’ll have to scour Google Flights’ calendar function, and there’s a bit of a catch: the flights will actually be marketed as JetBlue codeshares (though you can’t purchase these flights on the JetBlue site). A good travel agency should be able to book you this fare — and folks on FlyerTalk have reported decent success.

SIN2

While it’s not quite as “good of a deal” (and I do hesitate to use “deal” when we’re talking about three grand and up here), you can also find tons of availability on Singapore Airlines for flights from LAX to and from Tokyo at the $3,300 mark in business class, and these are bookable online.

There are also quite a few fares from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Asian gateway cities (Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai) via Hainan Airlines for around the $2,400 mark, although those flights involve connecting in Seattle; sadly, the fares are far more expensive ex-Seattle.

Bottom Line

We haven’t seen those crazy-good ~$1,500 business class airfares to Europe in quite some time, but the fact is that if you play around with Google Flights and FlyerTalk you can find some business class airfares that may suit you well.

Is $2,200 or so a bargain? No. But consider that economy fares to Europe from the United States can hit $1,500 and up at peak times in the summer, and you’re rarely going to find an airfare under $1,000. Accordingly, you may find that it’s worth an extra $800 or so to have a flat bed on a longhaul flight, access to world-class lounges and all of the goodies that OMAAT readers have come to crave and cherish.

Good luck and safe travels, everyone!

Have you found any other “pretty good deal” fares in business class? If so, please share!

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Comments

  1. My fiancee and I just booked business class from DC to Santiago for $2300 in December on AA/LAN. There were cheaper flights on Copa ($1900) but we preferred the hard product available via OneWorld. It’s not Western Europe but the flights are a similar length and given the timing (over the holiday period) it’s a fare that’s worth mentioning.

  2. You forget that there have been very good business class fares from Canada to Asia, Europe and Australia lately, given the weak CAD.

  3. China Eastern has been running a promo from any of their American gateway cities to various East Asian destinations via PVG for $2731 r/t incl. tax since Jan–must book by 4/30 and travel by 6/30. You can’t book on their “new” website for some reason but you can price the itinerary on Google Flights and contact their NY or LA office to book. For departure in NYC, you can also get free limo service (within 30 miles of JFK, pickup and drop-off, inbound and outbound) on revenue tickets (this service isn’t available on award tix). Free limo is available at PVG (inbound and outbound) if your end destination is Shanghai.

    Back in Feb, MU ran a V Day promo of buy 1 get 1 free, including both biz and first class to China only. So that’s less than $1500/rt/pax. And since DL bought 7% of MU, you can earn 150-200% MQM in various biz class fare levels.

    I also have the contact person in MU NYC office if you want to book directly with MU. You’re welcome.

  4. I noticed that my original comment got deleted…

    China Eastern has been running a promo from any of their American gateway cities to various East Asian destinations via PVG for $2731 r/t incl. tax since Jan–must book by 4/30 and travel by 6/30. You can’t book on their “new” website for some reason but you can price the itinerary on Google Flights and contact their NY or LA office to book. For departure in NYC, you can also get free limo service (within 30 miles of JFK, pickup and drop-off, inbound and outbound) on revenue tickets (this service isn’t available on award tix). Free limo is available at PVG (inbound and outbound) if your end destination is Shanghai.

    Back in Feb, MU ran a V Day promo of buy 1 get 1 free, including both biz and first class to China only. So that’s less than $1500/rt/pax. And since DL bought 7% of MU, you can earn 150-200% MQM in various biz class fare levels.

    I also have the contact person in MU NYC office if you want to book directly with MU. You’re welcome.

  5. “These don’t compare to the sub-$1,700 fares we’d been seeing this fall on SkyTeam”
    Sub 1700 fares to where? This could use a hyperlink if your referring to something specific!

  6. Paris to new york city via casablanca flying royal air maroc j class $1100 return, but wouldnt recommend them as a premium carrier in business class.
    That said they are trying to improve hard and soft product and have on occasions experienced some excellent service to paris from casablanca.

  7. A $2,200 r/t J class paid ticket from the west coast to Europe is a very good price nowadays. Even using LifeMiles, bought at a very reasonable1.5 cents a mile, it still costs $1,890 (126K miles r/t) add in the usual taxes and the LifeMiles redemption fee and you’ll be at appx. $1,950 (much more if you fly London or Frankfurt airports). And the very good point Lucky mentions about the Y-J narrow spread makes it indeed worthwhile – at times – to pay the extra for J. Between lackluster availability of saver level awards, devaluations, cost to buy miles I believe a strong case is there for buying J tickets – unless you’ve accumulated your miles from flying or credit cards, purchases, hotel stay, etc. However, should the price of oil go back to say $80.00 we might see the case for buying miles as an option return as airlines raise prices of tickets. I recently cashed in LifeMiles and AA miles for a trip involving longhauls on CX F, QR F, TK J and OZ J. Cost to buy miles incl. fees/taxes was $4,200. Cost to purchase tickets for the same is $17,000. So using miles is only 25% of the list price. That’s a bargain. Too bad the old USAirways DividendMiles is gone, that same trip when they sold miles for 1.5 cents and 125K miles for F US-Europe via Asia on Star Alliance carriers would have cost about $2,000! So there’s devaluation for you.

  8. Why is it that fares ex-US are so much higher than fares ex-Europe? You can fly Germany-US return in Y for about $500 almost every time of the year, and sometimes for less. I am flying Germany-HKG return in J this summer for $1600 on BA.

  9. I was tracking an ORD to VIE fare with LOT for $2000, but it jumped to $3000 yesterday. I saw a $2400 fare from IAD to HKG on Austrian going the long way through Vienna (also on Hainan/Alaska Air through Seattle) Interestingly, it costs $4200 to fly on Austrian from IAD to VIE, but only $2400 if you tack on a round trip to Hong Kong….go figure. These prices are for October 2016.

  10. Delta has some somewhat decent Delta One promo but two people must fly together: West Coast to Beijing for $2595 and $2731 to Seoul.

    When I searched on Momondo for JFK or LAX to LHR, I saw VS and DL for under $3000 but not on VS site, rather, the results linked out to some OTB like Fare Depot, PaylessFlights .com and some other names that I forgot now. I searched on BBB and a lot of them got F rating and complaints. I called one of them based in Virginia and the lady on the phone with a Chinese accent didn’t know anything about fare class. I didn’t book as some complaints (on these OTB FB pages too) mention how the ticketing never went through as the airlines raised the fare after they booked on the OTB sites. Anyone knows about these possible “scams?”

  11. If anyone has some SWU’S, MIA-CCS and CCS-MIA is incredibly cheap. Say £350 per person round trip. Never checked J, but with a SWU or a smile on your face, you can very easily upgrade.

    In my experience gate agents usually ask for just $50 more for a flight of about 3-5 hours.

    On the other hand, BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER WHEN YOU COME!

    I also noticed pretty good fares ($200 roundtrip) on Delta to Sint Marteen

  12. I just looked at the devaluation post.
    It’s grim.

    You now have to spend 18000 USD for a First Class Apartment on Ehtiad as a non-elite. I think Lucky is an Exec Plat, right? He has to spend about 8000. At least if he gets a ‘free’ flight for spending that.

    And whew! I didn’t count the award chart devaluation…

  13. I agree that 220-3k is an excellent price for the itineraries mentioned. I also agree its worth the extra ? to have a flat bed across especially coming back. Thanks for the heads up Nick

  14. @Mark F: I saw LOT offering $2200ish JFK to many EU cities via Warsaw. The JFK/WAW leg is on their new B787.

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