Any tips for business class US to Europe?

Jan 3rd, 2019, 09:25 AM
  #1  
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Any tips for business class US to Europe?

We're planning a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands in September. My husband is a somewhat reluctant flier, and we've decided that for trips to Europe, we'll save up and go business class (we go just every 2 to 3 years). We usually fly premium economy. It's a stretch for us, but worth it if it means I can get him to Europe without whining, lol.

My preliminary searches seem to limit airlines to United and Delta and their code share counterparts. We're in central Virginia, and will fly out of either Richmond or Dulles, or possibly Reagan National, and it seems going into Amsterdam is generally cheaper than Brussels. We generally fly United, but only fly domestically once or twice a year, so don't have a loyalty due to ff miles. My inclination is do a non-stop from DC in order to get the most bang for our buck, so to speak, from biz class, but of course it's pricier than doing a stop. Since the overnight is the primary benefit we're looking for, maybe that's being shortsighted?

I'd appreciate if anyone with more experience can provide any tips or insights on choosing flights.
dreamer320 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 09:38 AM
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Just a quick comment -- consider Business for the overnight flight and economy or Economy Plus for the return. It might save a lot of $$$. That way you get the lie flat beds for when it matter and can sit up for the relatively short flight home (I fly from the west coast so would LOVE to only have the DC > Europe duration instead of 11 to 18 hour journeys)

Another thing to look into is the 'Vacation' side of both airlines - I use AA so can't help with Delta or United much but they have similar programs. By booking air with something on the ground ( hotel, car, whatever ) it becomes a package and airfares are reduced significantly. You don't need to book all your ground arrangements - as little as one night can qualify. I just saved more than $2000 Business in/out of London by booking 3 nights hotel. Essentially got a free hotel room and $2000 off the airfare.
janisj is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 12:30 PM
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Good question. Here is my experience. Once we got a very good price from my TA thru her consolidated. Last year I stumbled upon a brief price drop by UAL for biz ORD-PEK from about $4400.00 down to about $2500.00. At the same time AA had similar drops too. I don’t know of any rhyme or reason for this so to me just be vigilant and if a good price comes around then grab it. About 2 days after I booked the prices hit the roof again. Good luck.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 01:58 PM
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For the price you may pay fopr a business class seat i would be rather particular about any airline I use in terms of seat layout..IWO direct aisle access or forget it unless the price difference is huge. Janisj makes a good point about flying in one class over and another on the return but not every airline lets you do that easily.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 05:59 AM
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I personally prefer business class on westbound flights from Europe as they're in the daytime when one can enjoy the amenities more, and as they're longer due to prevailing headwinds. For the same reason I'm not too worried about the eastbound overnight flight because they're so short. By the time you've boarded, climbed out and gone through a beverage service, dinner and a duty-free sales pitch before lights out, then aroused for breakfast and pre-arrival yoga (headsets collected, etc.) an hour before landing, you end up with maybe three hours of "rest" if that. But that's me; YMMV.

There's no "secret" for scoring cheap business class seats over the pond in the late summer or early autumn; anybody who thinks they can outsmart the airlines' yield management algorithms is either delusional or has an advanced degree from Hogwarts.

However, there are a couple of options to consider. First is that often airlines will have business class seat sales for flights in high summer (typically June-August) as this is a slow time for actual business travel (and ironically the most expensive time for economy travel.) If your dates sync with those sales, great. Or second, a little-noticed way to get cheap business class is to bundle the flights with some hotel nights in your destination using the airlines' "vacation" sites.

For example, for a 2-week trip from Dulles to Amsterdam in business class, but only including a hotel in central Amsterdam for the first three nights, United Vacations' price is around $2400 - $2700 per person, depending on the hotel. On the same travel dates, the same flights with no hotel bundle would cost around $4000 per person. I didn't check Brussels but would assume the savings are comparable. https://vacations.united.com . I don't know if Delta has a similar package program; I know American does. (If using those sites, click on "advanced booking options" or whatever, where you can specify hotel dates that might not be the same as the overall trip length.)

Another resource is the "premium fare deals" forum on Flyertalk - https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/premium-fare-deals-740/ . This is where the wonks (okay, guilty as charged) on FT post news about good deals in business or first class. You'll need a working knowledge on some jargon (e.g. airport codes, airline codes, fare codes) but it's worth learning and it's vicarious fun even if you don't find something that suits.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 01:02 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the replies! I hadn't thought of the possibility of combining the flight with hotel, I'll definitely look into that. I'm not necessarily looking for cheap flights, though saving some money is always good, just tips like the bundling that I'm oblivious to. And I'm pretty sure we'll do the same class both ways, at least this time - I've been budgeting for this for a year, and this will be a splurge vacation for our 31st anniversary.
dreamer320 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 02:36 PM
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When searching one thing I do is check fares and routes from all the gateway cities we’re willing to fly out of - not just from my location. We live in Phoenix and it’s amazing how they will sometimes route us if I enter that as my departure point. I also check multi-city sometimes and see what happens and do routing that way too. I confess we try to stay Star Alliance to build mileage.

If needed, we’re willing to book our flight to the gateway city as a separate ticket usually the day before the international flight. That flight may be premium economy. I just got 2 BC tickets on United Polaris flights for our trip in September for below $6,000 from Newark. We’re going to Bucharest and back from Berlin for a 5 week trip we’re doing in Eastern/Central Europe for our 20th anniversary. When I tried it from PHX the cost was way over $10,000. In fact my original plan was PE tickets because I was seeing really high BC fares but then saw these fares out of Newark and I thought they were reasonable. I read they are considered “Deep Discount Business” when I looked up the fare codes.

So I think it’s a matter of doing a variety of ways to check and when you see something you think is reasonable go for it.

Tips on this forum have really helped me so I just want to say thanks while I’m at it!
patandhank is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 09:53 PM
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I guess janisj's tip to combine airfare with hotel sounds like the best price saver.
If I had to choose (or could choose), I'd probably stick with that strategy for a nonstop service from DC to AMS or BRU.

My subsequent priorities on eastbound (to Europe) flights, if first was not available, or one-stop connections were significantly cheaper would be:
- transfer in the US, not in Europe (no fun to have a short eastbound transatlantic flight and go thru transfer procedure/ security/ passport control in case you transfer at a Schengen airport, e.g. in Paris, when it's 3 am on your biological clock)
- prefer longer transatlantic leg by connecting in, for example, Atlanta (this may sound stupid, but I can sleep well in lie-flat business seats, so 9 hours from Atlanta are more comfortable for me than 7.5 hours from, for example, New York)
- avoid flights with super early arrivals in Europe (I find it harder to adjust to the other time zone when I have to start the day at 5am with breakfast on the plane to prepare for a 6am arrival)
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2019, 08:19 PM
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I think you will need to do a lot of what ifs perhaps adding CDG to your options.
From IAD, I think you have three direct flights airport options: AMS via KLM or United, BRU via United, or CDG via AF. From CDG to Brussels Midi is 29 to 55 Euro by train depending on the time of day and how far ahead you acquired tickets. Rather than a priori equate overnight advantage with non-stop, actually think about where you are spending overnight. I think your arrival into any of these airports are super early in the morning if non-stop. Can you take advantage of a super early arrival? If you have to kill some time, does it make difference if you arrive later in the morning with a layover?
One negative about CDG/AF combo is that both tend to do more strikes than the other airport combo.
greg is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 09:41 AM
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If you're comfortable with Norwegian's so-called fiscal issues - which I doubt are going to impact travel in 2019 - the upgraded "premium" fares are pretty low into Europe from the US. The seats are comparable to US transcontinental/domestic business class - not lie flat, but plenty of room and great service onboard. Fares are considerably lower than business on mainstream airlines.

I flew Norwegian non-stop from OAK to CDG r/t last summer, and liked it enough to rebook for this April to Barcelona.

Also - I realize this isn't your question, but depending on your destinations and length of time in each place, apartments might be a better option than hotels. For three nights or more in a single city, we never book a hotel anymore. So easy to rent a flat or apartment - more room to spread out, being in a neighborhood with local restaurants, shops, etc and having morning coffee and breakfast in our own kitchen are what we love. Usually less than a nice hotel, too!

Last edited by scdreamer; Jan 6th, 2019 at 09:48 AM.
scdreamer is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 06:54 AM
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I've been looking at biz air ODR-DXB and tossed in about two weeks hotel from the UA,. AA and Delta vacations websites. It astonishing to see that in some cases its less! For example on the Delta website two biz tickets for November departure, early December return are $10736.00. Add about two weeks hotel (Marriott) and the price is $1460.00 less. Amazing.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Jan 7th, 2019 at 07:04 AM.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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The only amazing thing about it is that is very few on here seem to know about it. It has almost always been less expensive to take a vacation package, whether thru the airline's own vacation site or an online agency, especially with business class as the savings are greater. It's been been like this for 40, 50 years perhaps?
Odin is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Odin View Post
The only amazing thing about it is that is very few on here seem to know about it. It has almost always been less expensive to take a vacation package, whether thru the airline's own vacation site or an online agency, especially with business class as the savings are greater. It's been been like this for 40, 50 years perhaps?
I knew about this thru expedia though the flights I have seen are not too desirable both in terms of connections and airlines in most cases. If you add a better route and/or carrier the prices are much higher. I'm happy to find this now. Better late then never.
jacketwatch is offline  
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