Save up to 60% on Business and First Class International Air
Without a doubt,
Concorde offers the ultimate civilian flying experience in
the world today. Normally priced at $6326 - one way - you
can buy a flight for much less - see the bonus strategy
2 of a 3 part series - click for Parts
Update - Concorde no longer
flies, alas, but the balance of the fare saving strategies below
still apply as before.
Indeed, the potential saving
present in Round the World and Circle Pacific type fares is so
great, we've created a separate four part series on these fares
(see link on right hand side).
Strategy 4 : Round the World
and Circle Pacific Fares
Perhaps nothing displays the
lunacy of airfare pricing more vividly than Round the World and
Circle Pacific fares. For example, a roundtrip business or first
class fare from Los Angeles to London is $8598/14424. You'll
travel about 10,000 miles in the process. But a complete, all
the way around the world fare can be had for as little as
$6200/8100 (business/first class) and you are allowed to travel
twice the distance in the process!
Round the world fares are
usually cheaper than simple out and back fares. If all you need
to do is to travel to one destination only, they will involve
you in a bit of extra traveling time (but you're amassing an
enormous number of extra frequent flier miles and quite probably
increasing your priority status as you do so!). If your plans
have you visiting more places, then the savings can increase,
and the 'extra travel' inconvenience becomes less a factor.
A Circle Pacific fare is a
variation on a Round the World fare where - as its name implies
- you merely travel around the Pacific rim rather than entirely
around the world. Circle Pacific fares are generally cheaper
than RTW fares.
One of the good things that
the major airline alliances (oneworld
have done is to make interline agreements for truly flexible
round the world fares much more convenient than used to be the
case, when fares were more restricted due to fewer airlines
participating in each program.
Is there a 'catch' to such
fares? Nothing too substantial. For example, the oneworld fares
have a seven day advance purchase, require a minimum ten day
stay out of the country, and are 'capacity controlled' - ie not
every seat in first/business class is available for sale at
these low rates. But if you can live within these mild
restrictions, you can look for massive savings on your
international premium cabin travel.
Round the World
and Circle Pacific fares are so complex - but also so
important - that we've created a separate article series to
completely cover them. Click the link to go visit that
separate four part series.
Strategy 5 : Frequent Flier
Fares, Upgrades and Coupons
Estimates suggest that
perhaps only 10% of people in the First Class cabin have
actually paid a full published First Class fare - no-one really
knows for sure, except the airlines, and they're not telling! A
greater percentage of people in the Business Class cabin have
paid for their fares, but there's still a huge number of people
seated in both those desirable cabins that did not pay the full
fare. You should become one such people.
Many of these fortunate
people are flying on frequent flier awards or upgrades. Such
strategies can be a very valuable way of getting discounted
premium cabin travel. Read on.
How much are frequent flier
miles worth? To the airlines, the cost of frequent flier miles
is some small fraction of a cent per mile. But they'll sell them
for between 2c-3c a mile, variously to their members or to
companies that want to give away frequent flier miles as
premiums and sales incentives - in the process, the airlines are
marking up their cost by a factor of ten or twenty or so!
Let's take an average
cost/value to you, per mile, of 2.5 cents. For travel to Europe,
it is common to need 80,000-90,000 miles for business class and
100,000-125,000 miles for first class - in other words, an
equivalent cost of $2000-2250 for a business class fare and
$2500-3125 for first class - between a third and a quarter of
the full fare. (Note that these tickets typically allow you to
make two stops as well.)
By contrast, a free coach
ticket within the US typically costs 25,000 miles - or $625 -
not a good deal at all. And a coach class ticket to Europe costs
40,000-50,000 miles ($1000 - $1250), also not a good deal
compared to normal priced tickets.
There's another type of
award - the 'upgrade' award, which can give excellent value to
you as well. For example, with United, it costs 20,000 miles to
upgrade from a 'full' coach fare to business class on a European
trip, and 40,000 miles from a lower priced (but still expensive)
coach fare to business class. From Los Angeles to London, the
business class fare is $8592, a 'full' coach fare starts at
$3088 and a lower priced (40,000 mile upgrade) coach fare starts
at $1760. This means that the first 20,000 mile upgrade saves
$5504, and the extra 20,000 miles saves 'only' an additional
$1328 (but when you consider that it has a notional value of
about $500 it is still a good deal).
What does this all mean?
Firstly, any time the airline offers to sell you miles, you
should take advantage of them. Secondly, save your miles up for
business and first class travel awards and upgrades rather than
'wasting' them on domestic free tickets. Thirdly, if your
company has a chance to buy a bulk quantity of miles from an
airline, it should do this, too.
But what if you don't have
enough miles or coupons to get an award ticket or to upgrade
from coach class? Don't despair. You'll find lots of deals at
websites such as
eBay - today there were deals such as two roundtrip Business
Class tickets to Europe (use them singly or together) with an
instant purchase price of $4500 (compare to their value of up to
$17,000!), and lots of one class upgrade coupons for sale, and
even people selling mileage certificates. Of course, there are
also a rich mess of useless things that verge on scams also for
Bonus Strategy : Discounted
If you don't have the budget
for a $6326 oneway fare on Concorde between JFK and LHR, here's
a trick with a special bonus as well.
(priced from as low as $1350) and then pay an upgrade for a
Concorde flight in the opposite direction (priced from as low as
$2000 extra). Either enjoy the included 'free' QE2 crossing or
simply throw away the QE2 part of the deal and just use the
Concorde ticket! Note that there are only a very limited number
of dates that you can use this special arrangement on, but with
a bit of flexibility, you'll find yourself not only enjoying
flight at twice the speed of sound, but also, if you wish,
taking a leisurely luxurious trans-Atlantic crossing by ocean
liner as well!
Note that the prices on the
Cunard website are higher than I've seen them offered through
travel agencies. A good cruise specialist can probably get you
the best deal on these types of fares. And, note also, that if
you're planning on not using the QE2 leg of your journey, you'll
need to take the Concorde flight before the proposed QE2
crossing (if in the other direction, when you don't show for the
QE2 crossing, your flight will be automatically cancelled).
Read more in Parts 1 & 3
Be sure to read the other
two parts of this series for more strategies, including a
strategy that will get the airline offering you discounted fares
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21 Dec 2001, last update
21 Jul 2020
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.