A surge of promotions in Business class: why and how?

Traditionally, the back-to-school period is very favorable in terms of business travel. Nevertheless, this year, it seems that the airlines have decided to secure their front class load factor, by multiplying the promotions from European cities: Etihad, Qatar Airways, Emiratesand even Saudia and Vietnam Airlines to Australia. And this has a very simple explanation. Here are a few answers.

Extremely tight travel policies

The bane of the business traveler’s existence is thetravel policy, especially when it is applied indiscriminately. The result: beyond penny-pinching, some aberrations, such as having to travel in economy class at all costs, even if the business class fare is lower. Or the obligation to use low-cost airlines, even if it means leaving from or arriving at a very distant airport, forcing the use of expensive and polluting ground transportation.
The consequence of the foolish application of travel policies is simple: most business travelers now travel in the back of the aircraft on medium and short-haul flights, with a few exceptions for long-haul flights in Premium Economy or Business.
Thus, airlines are obliged to discount their front classes to attract leisure travelers with high purchasing power, who for a few hundred euros more than the economy class fare, offer themselves the pleasure of traveling in comfort, and start their vacations right at the airport!

Promotions sometimes difficult to spot

Beware, everything is not so simple. Do not expect to find direct flights or to choose your destination. If this is the case, expect to pay “standard” rates.
To benefit from good promotional rates, it is important to be flexible on the dates and on the departure and destination airports.

Example with the current promotion on Oceania with Vietnam Airlines.
I want to travel between Paris and Sydney in March 2017, in Business, on SkyTeam. Random dates yield results around 3000 € round trip for the best rate:

Example of a search in March 2017 on Paris - Sydney
Example of a search in March 2017 on Paris – Sydney

Clearly not what you’d call a bargain, even if the majors are over 4000 €.

By changing some parameters (departure and arrival cities in the same area), it is possible to find a flight in Business for 2000 € round trip.

Example of a search in March 2017, from London to Melbourne
Example of a search in March 2017, from London to Melbourne

Result: more than 1000 € of savings on an equivalent journey, remain to add flights Paris-London and Melbourne-Sydney for, at worst 200 € in total.
Sure, it’s more restrictive, but it’s better to spend a few extra hours in pre- and post-trip and travel in unparalleled comfort than to spend 26 hours in economy classfor the same price, right?

Finding good rates (even excellent ones like this one)takes a little work and a lot of researchon the Internet.
And the reason companies do this is that every market is different, and every country tries to match the competition.

Conclusion: Search to win

There is no miracle recipe: good business class fares are promotional, very good faresare often market rates with an additional promotion. And finding them requires a bit of research… Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.
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