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How to Fly Business Class to Europe for the Cost of an Economy Ticket

Whether you’re exceptionally tall, have bad knees or simply enjoy luxurious treatment, you probably have thought about flying business or first class at some point of your life.

Who wouldn’t prefer to taste caviar at 10,000 feet or sleep in your own lie-flat bed while crossing the Atlantic Ocean? It sure beats trying to catch some Zs while leaning on a stranger’s shoulder after devouring a microwaved chicken-or-fish meal. But how can you afford flying in a premium cabin when ticket prices are sky-high?

One way is to redeem airline miles, but that’s a topic for another conversation. The other option is to pay. Yes, pay. With real money! But, you’d be surprised how affordable business-class flights can be sometimes. You just have to know how to find it.

1. Norwegian Air’s business-class cabin 2. Norwegian’s Boeing 787 Norwegian Air

Round-Trip Premium Cabins to Europe From the West Coast 

Norwegian Air is a European low-cost airline. It operates about 14 routes between Europe and the United States, several of which depart from Los Angeles and Oakland, all on a Boeing 787. The plane features a premium cabin–a mix between premium economy and what would be considered business class on full-service airlines.

Unfortunately, the airline doesn’t offer a fully lie-flat bed, however, you get an angled recline, which is quite enough to get some sleep on your 10-hour transatlantic journey. As for meal service, you receive dinner and breakfast, and no, it’s not caviar, but you can’t expect a Michelin-level food quality for the price.

Speaking of price, depending on the season, you can find round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Paris for between $1,500 to $2,200. Compared to many carriers, the cost represents great value and provides comfort for your money. If you’re traveling from Los Angeles, you also can reach London. If you’re traveling from Oakland, you can easily get to Copenhagen, Oslo, and Barcelona.

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Another benefit of Norwegian’s premium cabin is lounge access. At LAX, you can visit the oneworld Business Lounge, even though Norwegian isn’t part of the oneworld alliance.

1. Icelandair’s business-class cabin 2. An Icelandair plane flying over Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja church Icelandair; Shutterstock

Round-Trip Premium Cabins to Europe From the Midwest 

Another unusual suspect is Icelandair. The airline flies several routes between the United States and Iceland with an opportunity to make a multi-day stop in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. If you live in the Midwest, you can fly the carrier nonstop from Chicago to Reykjavik and back in business class for just $1,200 to $2,500, depending on the season.

Icelandair’s business class, dubbed the Saga Class, doesn’t feature the typical lie-flat seats, but it does have plenty of extra legroom and shoulder space. Having said that, most flights between Iceland and the U.S. are relatively short, as is the case with this specific route from Chicago (just six hours), and lie-flat seats aren’t a necessity. Because of Iceland’s unique geographical position in the Atlantic Ocean, most U.S. destinations are a relatively short flight away, with the exception of Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore.

By purchasing a Saga Class ticket, you can use a special line to check in for your flight. As an elite passenger, you also receive access to the beautiful Saga Lounge at Keflavik Airport where you can enjoy a selection of food, drinks, and a warm shower–as well as a panoramic view of the Reykjanes peninsula.

While in-flight, you’ll have a wide selection of entertainment, free Wi-Fi, and a catered meal. Again, you will not be served fancy caviar or even lobster, but as a business-class passenger, you can pre-select your meal.

1. La Compagnie’s meal offerings 2. La Compagnie’s fleet La Compagnie

Round-Trip Premium Cabins to Europe From the East Coast

Because of its advantageous position, the East Coast obviously provides the most options for transatlantic flights, with several airlines competing in the big-hub cities of Boston, New York, and Washington.

But there’s one airline you may not be familiar with—La Compagnie, a recently founded French airline. The small two-fleet carrier flies just one route between Orly, France, and Newark Liberty International Airport. You can find round-trip non-stop flight options between $1,500 to $1,700, even in July and August–peak travel season.

Their business class offers angled-flat seats, in-flight entertainment, a basic amenity kit and, of course, refreshments and a meal service. You’ll get a lot more for a lot less than most airlines that charge for premium economy (or even regular economy) during peak season. Long story short, it’s hard to get better value for your casg when flying across the Atlantic.

La Compagnie also gives you access to the Art & Lounge in Newark Airport’s Terminal B, where you can grab complimentary food, beverages, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines. Any time you can get away from the busy terminal noise, especially at Newark Airport, it’s a win.

Is it possible to save even more cash when flying La Compagnie? Yes! In the past, the airline has run buy one-get one promotions, so you and a friend can score a great BOGO deal at a great price if you pay attention to the offers.

Keep in mind that because La Compagnie is such a small airline, there aren’t many options for you if something goes wrong. If there’s a delay or cancellation for any reason, you have no choice but wait for the next flight out, which is typically the following business day.

How Else Can I Save on Business-Class Flights to Europe?

Well, this one is hit or miss, but one thing you can do is be on the lookout for flight deals on sites like Secret Flying, The Flight Deal, and the Fare Deal Alert. Better yet, follow their Twitter accounts. But you have to be quick and flexible as certain flight options disappear within hours.

Only a couple weeks ago, Lufthansa offered round-trip business-class flights from Washington to Athens for about $2,100 on summer dates. Lufthansa is known for its incredible business-class product, which will usually set you back $4,000–so it obviously sold out fast.

Bottom line, there’s no reason to suffer while crossing the Atlantic, and if you plan things properly you can do it in style–even at economy-class prices.

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