While it’s true airfares have jumped due to post-pandemic demand (not to mention a pilot shortage), the premium seats usually filled with business travelers are an exception to the rule, mostly due to reduced corporate travel. That means you can more easily find deep discounts on first and business class fares for non-touristy destinations—sometimes up to 70% off. Here’s what you need to know when planning a trip.
There are really two markets at play here, based on the type of traveler: people with pent-up demand for economy-class travel, whether for leisure travel or to visit family, and business travelers who usually have their flights expensed by an employer.
Airlines are struggling to keep up with the first category of passenger, which is why economy fare prices have spiked, particularly to tourist-friendly destinations like Miami and Las Vegas. On the other hand, airlines have struggled to fill premium seats on common business travel routes, especially for international flights, resulting in prices that are often deeply discounted by 20–70%. According to The Wall Street Journal, some examples include:
- Between Chicago and London, American Airlines has been offering business-class tickets as low as $2,389—less than 50% of the price for the same trip in 2019.
- Between Chicago and Atlanta, a first class on Delta Airlines can be found for $407, a 40% discount on the same fare when compared to 2019.
- Between New York and Paris, French airline La Compagnie has been offering business-class flights for $1,662—68% cheaper than the 2019 price.
- Between New York and Vienna, Austrian Airlines in business class priced out at $1,861 for September travel, or 70% less than in 2019.
What’s intriguing about these prices is that while they’re still pricey compared to economy rates, the discounts are steep enough that premium seats might suddenly seem much more feasible, especially if you’re able to splurge for some extra comfort. As an example, the difference between economy and first class on a flight from Chicago to Atlanta is $250, whereas the difference used to be $413.
Part of the downturn in business travel, and international travel in particular, is related to ongoing concerns about the pandemic. While the EU is expected to open most of its borders by September, it’s possible the spread of fast-moving COVID variants could change those plans. If you’re going to commit to a first-class ticket overseas, make sure it’s refundable, or that you’ll at least get a voucher for the cost, in case the flight is cancelled.
Also, the line between business and tourist destinations is not always clear cut (e.g., New York and Paris are both), so you’ll have better luck finding discounts when flying to less common tourist destinations—more Atlanta-Denver, less New York-San Francisco, as an example. Since the discounts can vary, your best option is to simply play around in Google Flights and see what kind of deals you can get for places you might want to go.
Another consideration is that you may not get the full first-class experience, as some airlines have yet to return to full meal service due to COVID-related cutbacks.
Since economy flights are selling out quickly, a premium seat might offer maximum flexibility when it comes to booking a flight on the date you intend to travel. But even discounted, flying this way isn’t cheap, and will still need to fit your budget—but the added comfort might be worth the expense, particularly when you’re able to take long-haul flights overseas again.
Source link: lifehacker.com