airport space
Cathay Pacific Lounge at HKG

“Looking is free” – everyone, ever.

When you enter your 16 digit credit card number and hit “book”, travel becomes real. But it’s what you do before that key step which can determine whether the conversation is something along the lines of “it will be fine”, or “omg, I can’t wait”. More often than you’d think, the difference is a lot less than you could ever possibly imagine. Every once in a while, it really, really pays to glance at the business class column.

Summertime Sadness

With school out for the summer and beautiful weather just about everywhere, everyone takes to the skies from June through August. Naturally, that means prices go through the roof in the economy cabin. It’s the simple factor of supply and (insane) demand. In business class however, things are actually kind of empty during these months. Without much demand, prices often drop.

Rather than just talk about it, we’ll show you an example that’s possible to book as of this moment.

Think about that for a second. Economy hits crazy highs while business class drops to new lows. The result: some absolutely shocking deals, when you compare relative price difference to totally extreme comfort difference. Would you rather pay $1000 for a tight economy seat or $1400 for a fully flat bed, with multiple bags, airport lounges and fast track?

$1400 US To Europe Deals

Right now, British Airways has flights on sale to Europe in business class for as low as $1400 round trip. It’s a lot of money, totally with you there, but if you were looking on the same dates you’d pay at least $1000 in economy. Will this work for every flight? No. Does it work, in places all around the world from time to time – YES!

In the first option (below), the difference is less than $100 one way. Amusingly, premium economy is more than business class. And yes, you could opt to do business one way and economy the other to split the difference. But at these prices…

$91 is the difference between a tight economy seat and a flat bed with friendly Irish service, and of course…whiskey too.

And coming back…

That’s a $23 difference between a reclining seat with no lounge access and a fully flat bed with lounge access and fast track.

The most pragmatic but annoying answer for those looking for a great deal would be not to travel in mid summer, but rather in shoulder season, or autumn when round trip economy prices fall below $400, but that’s no help for people stuck to a schedule. For $400 more round trip, the experience is incomparable.

  • You get fast tracked through the airport.
  • You get a lounge with free food and drinks to relax in pre-flight.
  • On board you have a seat which turns into a bed, with actual bedding.
  • You get multi course dining, with free wine and champagne.
  • You get multiple bags, which should *in theory* come out first.

Or…

  • You board pretty much last.
  • You get an increasingly small seat.
  • You may or may not get served a meal, depending on airline.
  • Your legs and back may hate you.

airport spaceWhen To Look

The best times to book business class often directly coincide with the worst times to book economy. Think: Winter holidays, New Years, spring break, peak summer and all those sort of things. If you’re facing a super high economy fare and can’t make use of other dates, glancing into the business class column might just be the best tip you’ve ever received. Your wallet may not thank you, but your body will.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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11 Comments

  1. Great thought. This makes me feel better about spending most of my discretionary income on biz class travel 😉

  2. I’ve flown business before and saw great asian deals for $1600 return to Asia from Europe, but I don’t see the point when I can pay $450, arrive at the same time and spend the $1200 on food and or accommodation. Business class to me just isn’t worth the extra, even when it’s “cheap”.

    1. The article clearly offers examples where the difference in fares between Economy and Business is $93, $240 & $231 respectively….

      Your example, the difference ($1600 – $450 =) $1150.. (i.e. over 4 times the examples in the article)…

      Get it?

      And if you flew business class once and weren’t impressed enough to want to do so again, then you flew with a lousy airline.

      Personally, I flew business class once about 4 years ago… Since then, whenever I am searching for flights I have several panic attacks as I picture myself sitting in Economy (not bragging… Instead, I shoukd offer that I am 6’4″ tall, 225 lbs and it simply would be torture for me to sit where seat putch is 28″ or 30″). Relief comes in the form of a confirmed business class reservation that is reasonably priced!

  3. 100% in agreement. I travel LHR-PTY (Panama City) this weekend for a 10 day revisit to old friends. I was looking for premium economy since I know the 11 -12 hour journey for my aging body would be painful in the small seats. Economy was going to be around £800+ return, so I was willing to pay £400 more for something better, lo and behold Air France offered me Business Class in their 787-9 service via CDG for just over £1400. Compared to my “preferred” airlines (BA, AA, Iberia for One World benefits) this gave me a better itinerary at a much lower price. I’m looking forward to two firsts – Air France and the Dreamliner. And of course meeting up with old friends!

  4. Good article.
    Which air ticket search application is shown in the article’s photos?
    The aggregator sites I use do nit show the prices side-by-side like that…

  5. I really wish you would not show pictures with people who have their feet up on the furniture. It’s disgusting and sends the wrong message.

  6. I’m not sure that business class bags come out first on BA, even “in theory”? I didn’t think that priority baggage was an advertised (and certainly not a provided!) feature for Club World. (Appreciating that: (i) this is nit-picking to a ludicrous degree; and (ii) it is a feature of AA business class).

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