Good American & British Airways First Class Fares From Europe To The US

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British Airways has first class fare sales with some frequency. While British Airways’ first class isn’t great (I’ve often called it the world’s best business class, but I’m not even sure that’s accurate anymore), flying British Airways first class is a great opportunity to earn lots of miles.

At the moment American and British Airways have a widespread first class fare sale for travel between various points in Europe and various points in the US. There are great first class fares originating in Budapest, Gothenburg, Oslo, Porto, Prague, etc. There are so many options to choose from, and we’re seeing great fares to many US gateway cities.

For example, you can fly roundtrip first class from Budapest to New York for ~2,250USD:

Or roundtrip first class from Budapest to Los Angeles for ~2,570USD:

Or roundtrip first class from Gothenburg to Honolulu for ~2,800USD:

For what it’s worth, these fares don’t seem to allow stopovers, have a Saturday night minimum stay requirement, and travel has to be completed by August 31, 2018.

You can use ITA Matrix and Google Flights to find these fares. Then if you want to potentially save even more on the cost of a ticket you can book through Momondo, as they often have lower fares. However, do be aware that if you need to make changes or in the event of irregular operations this could complicate things slightly, since they link to some obscure OTAs.

These tickets are a great opportunity to earn lots of miles. For example, Alaska Mileage Plan awards 450% redeemable miles for flights in British Airways first class, not factoring in any elite bonuses (you’ll need the flight to actually be on British Airways rather than American to earn miles at that rate). Then MVP Gold 75K members earn a 125% mileage bonus, meaning you could earn as many as 575% redeemable miles for such a ticket, which is incredible.

For example, a roundtrip ticket from Budapest to Los Angeles would earn about 50,000 redeemable Alaska miles without elite status, and I value those miles at ~$1,000.

Furthermore, I should mention that you can’t use the British Airways Visa Card or AARP discounts on these fares, since tickets don’t originate in the US.

If you do book one of these tickets and have access to US credit cards, make sure you maximize the points you earnThe Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, which is a great option if you’re booking directly with the airline. Meanwhile the  Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers triple points on airfare purchases, and also offers fantastic travel coverage in the event of irregular operations.

Anyone considering taking advantage of some of these great British Airways fares?

(Tip of the hat to penfifteen and YHBU)

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  1. @ Damon — True, though in practice Alaska credits correctly for British Airways operated and American marketed flights.

  2. Even from London there are some good fares. I found a $2,400 round trip from London to Oakland in Club World. As AA Exp Plat I will earn 26,000 miles for that.

    And it looks to me like the First fares are offered at GBP 200 more than Club World each way, which is much less than the usual price difference.

  3. This is a great way to requalify for EXP on AA the old fashioned way.

    Can anyone say battered wife syndrome!

  4. @ Damon — True, though in practice Alaska credits correctly for British Airways operated and American marketed flights.

    The “correct” rule per AS: “Flights must fall within the eligible flight number range below, and your flight must be marketed and operated by British Airways.”

    Only two of my flights qualify…and neither of my AA long haul flights are eligible, so I think crediting to AS will be a problem (similar experience recently).
    I may go for BA Silver instead.

  5. FWIW if anyone was hoping to earn distance based EQM/RDM/EQD when crediting to AA this fare will not work as this is being sold by AA and will accrue according to the AA chart not BA.

  6. I’ve never understood why flights are so much cheaper ex Europe

    Meaning: what is the business sense?

    If I can charge $4k for a round trip MSP-CDG-MSP
    Why would I then charge $2500 for CDG-MSP-CDG?

    Both itineraries leave MSP once and CDG once
    I’m losing money on every ex Europe fare

    If I want to fill seats, why drop the price on the *cheaper* ticket?

    Why not drop it on the more expensive one?

    If I’m having trouble filling seats I’d rather sell one hundred $4000 tickets at $3500 than one hundred $3000 tickets for $2500

    I understand why you’d price differently for different cities… but these are the same flights!

    What am I missing?

  7. @JRMW economy101- offer and demand. Prices ex US for premium cabins are always higher than ex europe. Almost always

  8. Mach81,

    Agreed. Airline yield management software is pretty good these days.

    But interestingly the opposite is often true for hotels. So for instance a British hotel I was looking at showed on the US site for $70 a night but was showing as $100 a night on the sibling British site

    In that case you go to the US site to book a UK hotel and save 30%. Evidently the Brits are happy to pay more hotels than we are, but want to pay less for flights.

  9. For those a) living in the US, and b) *not* flying back-and-forth “across the pond” multiple times per year, what’s the point???

    I get that if I’m flying back and forth between the US and Europe, say, every two months, I could in theory buy a one-way flight to Europe, then take advantage of several round trips from the EU to the US, and then a final one-way ticket back to the US at the end of the year. But as someone who travels to the EU for vacation, it seems to be there’s no excitement here . . . only frustration in that EU-US-EU is less costly than US-EU-US.

  10. I definitely didn’t know that for BA operated and AA marketed ( Validating carrier ) fares, Alaska credits based on BA flights. This is definitely good to know. Thanks Ben

  11. @ Jason Brandt Lewis — That’s fair enough, though there are plenty of people who do travel across the pond every couple of months (or more often), as well as people based in Europe.

  12. @JRMW- your logic would apply IF they were struggling to sell the seats (either direction), but they’re not. As pointed out, it’s all about what the market will bear.
    @Jason – Yes, I often have to remember that this is no longer the relatively intimate blog for miles and points fanatics mostly in the U.S. Lucky is global now and has lots of fans who are just learning about this game. For me, the reminder is his posts about the CSR. I assumed 90% of his readers would be way over 5/24. Apparently I’m not even close to right. I miss the old days, but c’est la vie.

  13. If we credit this one American Airlines, considering i received the Platinum Pro status yesterday,
    would i earn 9 miles/dollar spent or 230% of the miles? I am thinking if its better to credit to American or Alaska (450%). I do not have any status on Alaska so with this credit i might be MVP on Alaska.

  14. I understand supply and demand. I also understand that flights are always more expensive ex US.

    Supply and demand doesn’t answer the question of WHY. (unless these were one way tickets…which they are not)

    If this was simply supply and demand:
    —Then there must be more demand for flights ex US than ex Europe. (Which explains why flights are more $$$ ex US)
    —However, these flights are sold round trip
    —This means an ex US round trip contains one ex US flight, and one ex EU flight
    —an ex EU round tip contains THE SAME EXACT ex US flight and ex EU flight

    —if an American is willing to spend more, then why discount the ticket so that a European can buy the EXACT SAME ticket for cheaper?

    Example: an American is willing to spend $4,000 on a LA to London RT ticket
    A Brit is only willing to spend $3,000
    Why not simply sell 2 tickets to Americans for $4,000 and leave the Brit in Europe? (Making $8k)
    If Americans balk, sell 2 tickets to Americans for a sale of $3750, and leave the Brit at home.(making $7500)
    Heck, sell the Americans 2 tickets at $3,000 (making $6k)
    But instead, they sell the Brit two tickets at $2500, making only $5k

    They are giving preference to people who spend less.

    There must be some other reason (tax benefits, govt regulations, etc)
    Because supply and demand does not answer why they are willing to sell the EXACT same ticket for cheaper

  15. JRMW

    But the airlines cannot sell a LHR-LAX-LHR round trip to an American because that American would have to first fly to London to start the itinerary, and then fly back from there afterwards.

    So it would end up costing the American far more.

    Now, if that American were going to London twice in rapid succession, then he could maybe take advantage. But there is a limit to that kind of arbitrage because there quite simply aren’t enough of them.

    Airlines have fairly sophisticated software tools to optimise fares. I don’t think any of us could do better by second guessing them.

  16. @JRMW

    You’re assuming the demand profiles are the same either side of the pond. They’re not.

    Brits typically get more leave, but if you have children you’re tightly constrained.

    Schools in the UK have three terms a year, with a week’s holiday in the middle of each term (known as a half-term holiday). At half-terms flights out of the UK are pretty much full.

    For example, I’ve booked flights LHR – CMB on Sri Lankan for February half term. Fares are about twice what you’d expect. I’d expect on the same dates flights ex UK to Florida will be too. BA will charge very heavily for flights originating from the UK – I doubt they would do for the US.

  17. I live in the US. If I am already going to be in Europe on an award ticket and want to book one of these round trip for the return, can I cancel the return portion going back to Europe and get a refund for approximately half of the total cost? These are ticketing in “A” fare class (restricted first class) on BA but I can’t seem to find out if A fare class is refundable. Can anyone confirm if this is possible?

  18. Common Man

    I have done a variation on that. I buy a F ticket westbound but the cheapest return in Economy, which I then throw away. Conversely you can sometimes buy a refundable segment just for the return leg.

    The BA site is good for booking different classes of service in both directions

    Of course, none of these games would be necessary if airlines didn’t over-charge for one-way flights, which are often priced higher than a round-trip flight.

  19. Thanks for trying to answer my question, Tom.
    It’s difficult to explain the fungibility of these tickets on the internet.

    I’ll try one last time and let it go

    Pretend there is one plane with 1 business class ticket, flying from London to LA.
    There is only one plane, one seat, flying round trip
    You can sell it to an American (who begins ex US) or a Brit (who begins ex EU).
    Price for American: $4,000 (or $2,000 one way)
    Price for Brit: $3,000 (or $1,500 one way)
    You will see that the flights for both round trips are THE SAME

    FLIGHT If American buys ticket. If Brit buys ticket
    LON-LA. Cannot Buy. But a BRIT can! British Customer #1 (out)
    LA-LON. American Customer #1 (out) British Customer #1 (return)
    LON-LA. American Customer #1 (return) British Customer #2 (out)
    LA-LON. American Customer #2 (out) British Customer #2 (return)
    LON-LA. American Customer #2 (return) British Customer #3 (out)
    LA-LON. American Customer #3 (out) British Customer #3 (return)
    LON-LA. American Customer #3 (return) British Customer #4 (out)
    LA-LON American Customer #4 (out). British Customer #4 (in)

    Here you sell 4 round trip tix to a Brit and one 1-way for American
    4 x $3000= $12,000 revenue

    Or in EXACT SAME FLIGHTS you can sell 3 round trip tix to an American AND 1 one way to a Brit
    3 x $4000 PLUS 1 x $1500 = $13,500
    (In reality, you can sell 4 RT to an American, assuming there is any American wanting a one way ticket)

    **if you start the plane in LA, you lose even more money if you sell to a Brit
    Cause now you get 4 RT tickets for an american for $16,000
    Or 3 RT for a Brit and 1 one way for an American for $11,000

    I’ll stop now, cause I’m quite sure I’ve only caused confusion

    Thanks all for trying to help me get this

  20. How do I find our if “A” class is refundable and the terms associated with that if I am wanting to use only the outbound part of the ticket and cancel the return? Any help is appreciated

  21. @JRMW – Let me take a stab at this as briefly as possible – it basically comes down to two things – how much is a passenger willing to pay, and what can an airline charge so that they can fill up their plane with revenue passengers.

    Why should an airline discount a flight ex-USA when they can get passengers who are willing to pay $4k – 5k AND fill up the entire cabin? Passengers ex-EU on the other hand will not pay that much, so an airline can continue to charge $4k ex-EU and fly their EU-USA flights with only passengers returning to the US, and no passengers originating from the EU, OR they can fill up their cabin with passengers originating the EU and lower the cost of the ticket for those passengers.

    An empty airline seat is a lost opportunity – it is better to fill an empty seat with the lowest possible cost than to let the seat go empty.

  22. @MBH —> I completely agree re: the more international appeal of OMAAT. My comment was meant more along of the lines of simply making sure I wasn’t missing something.

  23. JRMW

    I think AVS nailed it by phrasing it another way. Suppose a BA plane flies back and forth between LHR and LAX, and it has 400 seats.

    If BA could sell all 400 seats at the US price (say $4,000) it would (at least unless the UK government reminded them that it is the UK flag carrier anyway).

    But in practice that plane is 50% Europeans (*) and 50% Americans. The implication is that BA can only sell 200 tickets to Americans at $4,000. There just aren’t enough Americans to fill the plane willing to pay that much.

    So they sell the other 200 seats for the best price they can get – $3,000 to a European. It’s either that, fly half full or drop the US price.

    (*) If you take flights like this you see a lot of pax on it who originated from continental Europe and connect to the US via London. Each of them is probably paying a different fare depending on the poimt of origin

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