We'd like to go to Italy and have resumed our planning with an eye towards late May. Flying out of Detroit on Delta has been the only reasonable choice on our last two trips. We've decided to splurge on our trip there and fly business class from Detroit to Florence (or possibly FCO). I've been surprised looking at flights nearly 8 months out that there are only a few seats left. Is this normal for business class? Or might it be that things just aren't normal yet?
Things will not be normal until the European tourists begin coming over. There just isn't enough business for the International airline routes right now.
The flights you are looking at may not even currently be flying. British Airways sold us flights for two different trips, and they haven't flown into San Diego since March 2020- still aren't. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. We have learned a lot, as we did go to Switzerland a few weeks ago. Our flights were changed/canceled 7 times!!!!
Use Flight Aware to see if your flights are being flown, if they are flying everyday, and how dependable they are.
Set up Google Flight alerts to track prices.
IMHO, it's just too early to book until regular routes are re-establised.
I don't think there is any doubt about the fact that things aren't normal yet, but I'm not sure if that is the reason for what you see.
I anticipate that there is pent up demand and that any business seats that have been purchased already, might have been done by frequent flier travelers making sure they were able to get their tickets. It will be interesting to see what others think.
Thanks Pat. A flight I have been eyeing for May I found out is not operating right now. One a few hours later is. I like earlier arrival better but seems like it may only be flying on paper anyway.
I think eight months out is very early, even when schedules are stable, but what do I know about business class? I thought one of the reasons it cost more was because business people don't buy as far in advance as the vacationers back in steerage.
I agree. Eight months is way out for me. I was just trying to get an idea for budgetary purposes and saw this. Since I've never flown business I wasn't sure if it was the norm or if something else might explain it.
Keep checking every week. I made a reservation to fly out of Milan Malpensa on AA, and it looked like I got the last 2 seats in business class, not even together. I called AA to see if the agent's screen showed something different than mine, which showed every seat taken, and she said she sees what I see. Well, I just checked this morning, 2 weeks after making the reservation, and now 1/2 of all the business class seats show unoccupied on my flight.
I just changed a seat assignment on my November flight from DTW to CDG. I'm flying Premium Economy on Air France/Delta and for hoots and giggles looked at their business cabin. I've never seen the seat map look this way.... lots of "X's" which they say are unavailable but that is different from the little person icon for "occupied". Maybe it's because I was looking outside of my current ticket class?
Even if anyone could summarize what is "normal" I'm certain we are not going to see that for a year. I too am watching flights for Zurich and Rome for May/June. After I see if I like this Premium Economy I may keep my eye on that for my spring trip.
For my (unfortunately aborted) trip to Italy I booked flights last December for September 14 departure. I was able to get United Mileage Upgrade Award tickets with immediate availability it that time frame. So I got immediate confirmed upgrade to business class for SFO-FRA and FRA-SFO with no waitlist.
Sadly, I had to cancel the whole trip. Fortunately a schedule change a week before I had to cancel gave me the leverage to get a full refund.
You can look at Turkish Air via IST see if you can even get a free tour of IST or an overnight. You may even want to spend a few days there. They include your checked luggage and offer seat assignments for $35 per person. Also there is the option to pay a bit more to block the middle seat and have a 3rd bag.
I would wait until 4-5 months out and use the Hopper app to let it track the flight for you. My Parents and I are going to Israel in a few weeks and I booked us for $648 r/t plus $200 for all of our seat assignments. If you see an itinerary and airline you like I would write it down on an Excel Spreadsheet and then revisit it often. Airlines can and do change their schedules so you could book in and then rebook if there are no change fees and get the money back as credit or change to a better itinerary.
Google Flights has historical fare info, in numbers, charts, graphs, all kinds of fun stuff. And you can also ask to track the fares on various routes and send you emails.
The only problem with historical data is, it's likely of little value since everything these days is different. Will travel rebound? Will business ever be full again? Will airlines be realistic and lower fares if no one is flying? Magic 8 Ball says, Reply Hazy, Try Again.
I'm wondering where and how you're seeing "only a few seats left"—those are really hard to gauge.
My hunch is that the airline or booking site you're looking at lists something like three seats remaining at this price, which is pricing, not capacity. Airlines only release seats for sale in small batches (usually sets of 9) and subsequent batches are usually higher in price. (The only way I know to look up fare code inventory is via ExpertFlier, but it might require a paid membership.)
If looking at a seat map and seeing only a few seats available for booking, that would be odd. Seat maps usually suggest flights aren't as booked as they really are, with lots of people's seat assignments not yet made.
Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
The Delta site just showed "n" seats left. Since this was mostly a planning/budgetary search I didn't pursue seat maps.