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Question for seasoned air travelers re: discount fares

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Feb 25th, 2009, 07:51 AM
  #1
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Question for seasoned air travelers re: discount fares

There are currently some incredible discounted fares being offered by the airlines. My question is, when coach seats are discounted to such a degree, does one find a commensurate degree of discount for business class seats? Or, are there times that the airlines preferentially discount business class? I am especially interested in flights from the US to Europe. I realize the airlines are much like the Lord, i.e., both work in mysterious ways, and there is likely no simple answer.

Thanks for your help.
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Feb 25th, 2009, 09:33 AM
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I recently checked flights from IAH - MAN for April on American. Prices are HALF of what they were just a few months ago for coach but not for Biz Class. Literally, you can fly coach for under $500 but Biz Class is still $5,000.

Don't know if it's the same with other airlines or not.
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Feb 25th, 2009, 09:40 AM
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Continental has been running specials from US to Europe every summer, Thanksgiving and Christmas for the past 3-4 years.

That's the time when business travel is slow from June to September. They also have some sale right now till April, but not as cheap.

Fares from about $2,000 roundtrip:

http://www.continental.com/web/en-US...nessfirst.aspx
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Feb 25th, 2009, 09:47 AM
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The answer is... it depends. Not much help, but the issue is complex.

I don't think that the airlines see the front cabins as a mass-market product. To that end, they will wheel and deal with corporations (my company has a deal offering sub-$2k trans-Atlantic business class tickets), but assume that any normal consumer will either not buy a biz ticket, or is so rich that they are indifferent about costs. This helps keep list prices high for you and me.

For the consumer, I think the "discount" is offered via offering upgrades with miles or one of the elite upgrade vouchers some airlines give their frequent flyers. I would think that, in this period of very low demand, that these upgrades might be much more plentiful.

Remember, also, that the seasons are different. The back of the plane may fill up at Christmas and over the summer, but the front is deserted. These are your best times for business class deals. Continental, especially, is noted for running semi-annual sales during these times. Even then, though, you will be lucky to get something for less than $2k.
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Feb 25th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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I've been flying AA steadily for over 20 years (over a million miles), and I've never seen a direct discount for Business / First class.

The only folks who are elgible to upgrade internationally are Executive Platinum holders (100k miles per year).

However, I've been upgraded as a sign of good will as a Platinum person (50k miles per year). I've had OneWorld partners offer me a one-way upgrade for a discount, at the counter, but never American.

Think coach, becaue that's usually all you can get. There are sites out there that claim they can get business class seats less expensively, but I've never used one.

Try googling with something like "Discount business class tickets".
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Feb 25th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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The only folks who are elgible to upgrade internationally are Executive Platinum holders (100k miles per year).

Not true. Anyone can upgrade internationally on AA, as long as you have the miles and the co-pay. It is laid out clearly on the website.
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Feb 25th, 2009, 10:47 AM
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There are "discounted" business class fares to Europe at various times (and routes) throughout the year. Most airlines offer fares that book into "I" or "Z" class from time to time.

For instance, for travel in March, AA and BA have NYC-London fares around $2200 all in (booking into I) and Air France has NYC-Paris at $2300; these compare to ~$5500 in "D" class (fewer restrictions) or over $9000 for unrestricted "J" class (for AA/BA; different letter designations in other airlines.)

As a rule such discounted business fares have date, change, length of stay, refund or no-upgrade (i.e. to first class) restrictions that are similar to those with "discounted" coach fares.
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Feb 25th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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travelgourmet,

I meant for free or using upgrade stickers.

Of course, anyone can pay to be upgraded. I've done it, but my head gets wrapped up in being a "premium" traveler. We tend to view upgrade only for free or for upgrade stickers.

For buying "discount" business class tickets internationally, there are a gazillion sites that do so. Here's the first site that popped up on a google search www.iflybusiness.com
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Feb 27th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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AS rkkwan noted, Continental seems to offer sales on their BusinessFirst to Europe a couple times each year, usually in the same time frames that hey offer sale fares in coach. They have some pretty good fares on offer right now.
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Feb 28th, 2009, 03:06 AM
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Continental seems to offer sales on their BusinessFirst to Europe a couple times each year, usually in the same time frames that hey offer sale fares in coach.

Not quite. The summer fare sale overlaps with the high season for coach travel to Europe. This makes it an especially good deal, since the price difference really gets compressed. The November/December sales are often less exciting, since coach can often be had for $500 or so.
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Feb 28th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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Lufthansa has had biz class fare sales in August at least a couple of times in the last few years. I don't know when the sales started, but I became aware of them in July.
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Mar 4th, 2009, 10:26 AM
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An example-Last week,AA told me that my son could be upgraded to Business ORD to DELHI India for 40,000 miles and a $150 charge on my purchased economy ticket.
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Mar 4th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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An example-Last week,AA told me that my son could be upgraded to Business ORD to DELHI India for 40,000 miles and a $150 charge on my purchased economy ticket.

The agent misspoke - it's 40K miles and $350 each way to upgrade to India.

That said, some math is in order.

You can buy AA miles for around 2.5c per mile (and currently there's a 30% bonus in effect.) Most airlines have the same sort of program.

If it takes 100K miles for a business class award to, say, Europe, then in the worst case that's $2500. Note you may need to combine purchasing miles for yourself and have someone else "gift" you miles in order to get to 100K, due to limitations on the amount you can purchase annually, but you see my point. And most airlines' awards allow for connecting points in your home country and throughout the target region. If you could find a business class ticket from, say, San Diego to Istanbul for $2500, more power to you. And of course if you have a mileage balance to begin with, then it's even less out of pocket.

Naturally, with award tickets you'll need to find availability to your chosen destinations, so it's not like you can redeem miles for business class tickets to anywhere on any day. But it's one more arrow in your quiver, so to speak.
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Mar 4th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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And CO is running sales on BusinessFirst from now through 4/17, and from June 28 - Sept 4 for as little as $899 one way from, for ex, EWR to LHR, BRU, CDG, etc; slightly higher fares also from IAH.
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