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Typical business class fares Seattle to Europe mid-to-late November

My husband has a terrible time sleeping on planes and he lost the first 1.5 days of our last trip to Europe because of jet lag and having not slept. We upgraded once to business at the airport and he was fine (who isn't with full sleeping pods?!) so we're planning to splurge and do open jaw with business class on the way over so he can enjoy the whole trip.

What are typical business fares on airlines like BA, Lufthansa, etc. that time of year? I'm very possibly being unrealistic but was hoping for something more like $4k per ticket.

I've been watching fares and they seem astronomical but I've never purchased business class ahead of time and it's been a few years since I've gone to Europe. The budget airlines seem reasonable at $2500-$3500 but those airlines don't have pods and some don't have lie-flat seats at all. The biggies that fly direct from here are all around $8-$10k for a ticket. We won't splurge that much. Our destination is Italy but we're happy to go on any direct-to-Europe flight business and then do a cheap flight or night train to our final destination. I've been to Italy off-season before and was hoping to get better prices but am getting nervous the closer we get to November.

Advice on business class of budget airlines (Condor, Icelandair, etc.) or other creative options? Any of your tips are welcomed!

Thanks!

Posted by
489 posts

For this November? Try British Airways. If you leave on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, it it possible to get a ticket for less than $4K. Do you have your dates yet?

Posted by
3551 posts

We as tourists are competing with executives whose companies pay the full business fare.
If u find a flight in your fare range then book it. As a retiree intryb5omget Econ plus or business for long flights but it/is always so random. Any paid upgrades go to very freq flyers so customers l8ebme are in line last. Try all the major airlines , skip the budget airlines, for sure.
If your dates are away from thanksgiving you should find something perhaps into Milan. It would not be non stop but neither would be Venice, Naples or a Rome. Use kayak or itamatrix for a guideline.
Plug in diff dates to see if certain days may be less expensive if u can. Gd luck. We all struggle with the airline fares especially to Europe.

Posted by
8851 posts

Did you look at Aer Lingus? ~ $4500 rt per person in biz class ( Dublin to Rome in coach)

On BA I found I could get a biz class SEA-FCO and Premium econ return for ~ $2500 per person

Picked random dates in Nov with 14 days between flights

Posted by
3714 posts

I barely close my eyes on flights from Seattle or anywhere else to Europe, even in business class. So no matter where I sit, I've taken to spending 2-3 nights where I first land. Then I take a train or a European airline to my final destination in the morning.

I much prefer flying nonstop to a European city, then on to my final destination. My hub of choice is Amsterdam. Flights to and back home from there are easy. Likewise intra-European flights seem easier from and back to there for the places I want to go.

Tip: Do not fly on Ryan Air. This summer I flew TAP, Ryan Air and Transavia within Europe. Ryan Air's seats were the worst I've ever encountered. Never again.

Mega-Tip: There aren't many overnight trains these days, but even if there were, I wouldn't recommend them. If your husband can't sleep on a plane, he definitely won't be able to sleep on a train.

Posted by
4720 posts

Sign up to British Airways' newsletter and you will be notified when their sales take place, they hold them several times during the year, this is when we typically purchase our tickets, sometimes First Class can be obtained for £100 or so more than Business so often we've gone for that option. We flew London to SFO a few years ago First Class return for £3k each and we're flying First Class to Kuala Lumpur in December for just over £2.5k. Typically Business Class transatlantic costs around the £2k mark during their sales. I suspect a summer sale will soon be forthcoming.

Posted by
613 posts

Consult SeatGuru.com for ratings. Also recommends places not to sit on the plane. Generally, lowest price over Thanksgiving. Also check fares from Portland, SFO, DEN, SLC, LAX. Any connection in EU means a coach seat in a row with an empty middle seat.

In June this year d got a Nov open jaw --Frankfurt, Budapest-- Lufthansa for $3,300 from SLC via DEN. I have seen advice that lowest fares are 11 months or 3 months out. It might be worth paying a travel agent to do the search, and be sure they check consolidators. If you are taking a tour, tour operators often have good fares. Fare code z is a sign of the airline's lowest price. Beware sneaky tricks, like Viking River Cruises who have really cheap advertised fares but fly to coach to JFK and the Business over the ocean-- from SEA, that's half the trip in coach.

This is really screwy, but I got the $3300 fare on Lufthansa from United, so don't just check the web sites of the airline you want, also check all their partners.

You might get lower fares on rt business class rather than returning in coach.

Check Condor.

Alternative: suffer coach but get rid of jet lag. Since I read about this in a neurological research study, I've done it 3 times with 100% success at no jet lag. You have to reduce the oxygen content of the air you breath when sleeping for the two nights prior to departure. You can do this by sleeping in the mountains at at least 8,000 ft. for two nights.

Posted by
613 posts

Pods aren't all that big a deal. What is important is the extended length and width of the seat.

Recline: 170 degree seat is OK.

Posted by
4193 posts

If that's an option for you with regards to work or other commitments, do keep in mind that the extra cost of business class tickets is significantly higher than the cost of an extra vacation night in Europe on arrival / in the US before going back to work. Even the best business class seat won't guarantee more than six hours of sleep on a Seattle-Europe flight.

Posted by
220 posts

We’ve found that the airfare from Vancouver BC is much cheaper than flying out of Sea Tac to Europe. A flight up the Vancouver is about $100 on Alaska we saved $600 per ticket on a business class flight to CDG

Posted by
3714 posts

Using Google Flights departing Seattle November 5 and returning November 26, I'm seeing RT business class fares around $3375.

These are on Delta, Seattle to Venice or Rome and Milan back to Seattle. The shortest times are through, you guessed it, Amsterdam.

You do not want to fly home from Venice. The flight leaves too early and the price is higher.

Go to Google Flights and mess around with the options, using your dates and the cities. Make sure that you are searching using the "multi-city" and "1 stop or less" options.

Note that if you are limited to specific days or dates, your prices may be higher.

From the prices you gave, I'm guessing that you did not use the multi-city option wherever you looked, but rather priced one way tickets which tends to double the price.

If you find flight schedules and prices you like, go to the airline's website to book. Once again, make sure you are using the multi-city option.

Posted by
492 posts

I do believe it's possible to get something for ~$4000.

I actually have a spreadsheet comparing prices when I booked a late Oct to mid-Nov multi-city flight from Vegas to Budapest, then Bucharest to Vegas. I was living in Vegas at the time so had no real reason to fly through Seattle, but when I was comparing options and itineraries to use American Airlines miles for round trip business class, the miles redemption itineraries all involved flying from Vegas to Seattle, then taking British Airways from there. That's why I also looked up the cash cost for the same itinerary, along with various other options. My spreadsheet says a multi-city ticket in business class from Seattle to Budapest/Bucharest to Seattle would have cost $3228 per person (of course, my particular situation then also involved the cost of additional Las Vegas-Seattle flights).

A couple caveats, though:

  • Unless you have status with British Airways or a One World partner, even when booking business class you have to pay extra to select your seat well in advance of your flight. This could add another $50-100, one way. Otherwise, you are only able to select a seat 24hrs before departure I believe. So if you absolutely want to guarantee your seated next to your companion, add a bit to the fare.
  • If you use miles for British Airways, expect paying some hefty fees and surcharges along with the miles (this is why I ended up not using miles for the trip - the only options I had involved forking over a ton of miles, as well as over $1500 in just fees).
  • With many European carriers, intra-Europe "business class" is just a regular seat, with no increased pitch, recline or width. So once you cross the Atlantic and continue on, your business class experience may not be what you expect (though I'm not too bothered by this - I found some good prices on itineraries that involved business from the US to Europe, and then continuing on in economy; price was better obviously, and knowing business class wouldn't involve a better seat the financial savings made it more than worthwhile).

I looked up the same itinerary just now for the same dates out of and back to Seattle, and BA is showing a price under $3500 RT. Not too bad!

Posted by
810 posts

You might also consider Deltas Premium Select seat option. They're a nice middle ground between coach and business. Recliner type seats, more leg room, sky priority boarding, etc. They aren't available on all routes. So you may need to look at different routes.

Posted by
7 posts

Wow—thanks everyone for the great tips and quick replies! I love this forum but it’s the first time I’ve posted. I have been looking at just the first leg assuming we’d fly economy home and it sounds like that may be why I’m seeing such high prices. We do have dates. We’re planning to fly home on Thanksgiving Day. I did that last time I went to London and there were only about 30 people on the plane from LHR to SEA. Flight attendant said it’s the best kept secret. You can sit anywhere in the main cabin and have rows to yourself.

Much appreciated. I have renewed enthusiasm and energy for my search now.

Posted by
2165 posts

I use Condor Business class. I love it - it's much cheaper than Delta and I think it's comfortable enough for sleeping. Pull up some Google Images of their Business Class seats. If you're flying as a party of two, you can take the entire row on one side and it makes for a very nice little area. The seats are pretty comfortable in all positions and I can definitely sleep. My partner - 6'3" - thinks they're a little short for sleeping but he does love the general comfort.

I'm usually able to get these for $2500 and they seem a nice compromise.

My only fear with Condor is that I think they're going to be acquired by Lufthansa in the near future and I don't know what that will do for our future flights. I've tried to keep on top of the developments but I can't really figure it out.

Posted by
5152 posts

JC, do you have a link for signing up for the newsletter? I can't find it on their site.

Posted by
13223 posts

We fly in business class on long-haul flights, as that is the only way my husband’s back can tolerate the long flight. I work at earning miles and have learned how to use them to get the flights we want. For Europe we book British Airways; we like their Seattle to London flight.

So you were looking at prices for one-way flights? On the legacy carriers (like British Airways) one-way pricing is more expensive (unless you are using miles). Budget carriers like Condor are more likely to have reasonable one-way fares. (We did book Condor for the flight home last year, when we were out of miles. The one-way flight in business class was $1122 each, at prime time in August).

That flight combo Joe found on BA for $2500 each in November is an excellent choice. I would look no further if you can find the same price. You get business class on the overnight flight TO London, which is the important one for your trip. The return in Premium Economy should be OK as it is a daytime flight (less need to sleep) and you are on your way home.

Note that depending on the day of week that you fly, there may be 1 or 2 BA flights from SEA. We prefer the daily BA 48, which departs around 7 pm and arrives around noon-ish, generally using a 747. BA 52 uses a 777, flies 4 X a week (generally), departing earlier (2 pm or so) and arriving very early morning.

Yes you will pay extra for seat selection on BA if you wish to choose your seats in advance. However, you will be assigned seats for free at on-line check in, and the seats will be together unless for some reason there are no seat pairs left.

The BA seats are true “lie flat” type. Condor seats are not; they are “angle flat” and I kept sliding down until I figured out to raise the footrest as high as it would go. Otherwise the Condor flight was fine, and I would fly them again if I ran out of BA miles.

For future flights you might look at earning miles on Alaska Airlines as they can be very useful for flights to Europe (and Asia).

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Posted by
6881 posts

or other creative options?

Instead of paying an exorbitant amount for merely sitting on a plane (probably the most expensive seat in the world and still uncomfortable), why not build in an extra 1 or 2 days into your schedule to allow yourself to rest and just being Ok with that? You can pay for an incredible hotel room (or a massage) with the savings, and still have a lot left over. You can let yourself veg out completely that first day or two. Even the nicest airplane seats won't allow you to sleep like you do at home, and they don't help anyone opt out of jet lag. Jetlag is inevitable and most people succumb to it. I'm not sure how you completely "lose" the first days in Europe since it's normal to not be "at 100%" functioning for the first few days. But you muddle through, everyone does. There are also other ways to combat jet lag like resetting your clock before your trip and trying to go to bed earlier (over a number of successive days). And there are ways to help you sleep on the plane as well, although some people swear they just can't do it.

Posted by
4720 posts

I'll have to disagree with you Agnes as it's not just about a seat. I'm 6'3" and very broad shouldered, I simply cannot fly long haul in economy as it is actually painful and if the person in front decides to recline then I am stuck and extremely uncomfortable. Business class is a vast improvement over economy, I've never felt uncomfortable in a business class seat, quite the opposite, all the legroom I need, no-one squeezed up against me, easy access to the aisle and whilst the bed is never going to match your own it doesn't mean that sleep is not achievable. I've always slept on beds in aircraft, the longest was the entire journey minus the first hour from Dallas to London so for me, the extra money is well worthwhile and I wouldn't swap it for a few extra days at my location.

Not only that but the food and wine is better in business/first and you have access to the airport lounges plus if you're a member of one of the airline frequent flyer programs then you'll accrue more points for cheaper or free flights in the future.

As for most expensive seat in the world you should try a ticket for the Portsmouth to Isle of Wight ferry!

Posted by
916 posts

Something that we are trying which has not been mentioned yet in this thread is taking a day flight to Europe. Both Boston and JFK have a nonstop on Delta to London Heathrow. I think other airlines have nonstops from Washington DC and possibly Chicago during the day. I have not researched them as much since we are Delta loyalists. Anyway, we are planning on taking a day flight and seeing how that works. I don’t care if I’m in a coach seat if I’m not trying to sleep. Flights from New York and Boston leave at 8:30 in the morning and land at 8:30 at night.

Posted by
2576 posts

No amount of extra days or massages can make up for a miserable flight awake the entire time. Find the RT business class flight you want. Then get on the phone with the airline customer service and book business class going, economy plus or similar home bound. A travel agent can do this as well. I’ve only been lucky enough to fly business class in a lie flat seat once. Slept nearly the entire time, refreshed the next day. Jet lag pretty much zilch. The use of the lounge, the food, the wine...if I could afford it I’d do it all the time. There is no substitute.

Posted by
5538 posts

I like Iceland Air Saga Class, but you should know that these are not lie flat seats. They are more like Domestic First Class in US.

The advice about building frequent flyer miles is good. I also like the bit with built in rest days.

One other option. Don’t sit together on the plane. If it is only your husband that needs business class , you only need to pay for one premium seat. You can fly coach or premium economy.

The only really bad flight I have had in coach out of Seattle was on Air France.

I also have flown out of vancouver on KLM and saved quite a bit over Seattle.

Posted by
492 posts

I tend to prefer business class as well, and not just for the amenities (though those can be nice).

My back very much dislikes 3+ hours in economy. Even when flying economy domestically from one coast to the other, I’ll look forward to a layover as a chance to get up, stretch out a bit, and give my back a little while to recover before the next flight. For flights to Europe (or any other long haul international flight), avoiding economy helps me feel like the trip really begins once at the airport to depart, as opposed to only beginning once I’ve landed at my destination. I know the flight will be pleasant and comfortable enough, so a welcome part of the entire trip rather than simply a chore. Thankfully, I’ve found premium economy tends to do the trick as well - that little bit of extra seat size and space let’s me wiggle around enough to find a few comfy positions that’ll work to sleep in.

Posted by
5152 posts

British Air lets you choose different classes coming and going. Put in Premium Economy as your desired class, and you can choose from PE, Business, or First. The return trip you can again choose one of the three. I'm considering flying over there on business, but back on PE.

Posted by
3709 posts

You can buy a lot of generic Ambien for the extra $3500 for business over coach.

Posted by
13743 posts

$3500 isnt that great a percentage of the whole trip.

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for some people. if I could, I would.

Posted by
3709 posts

$3500 isnt that great a percentage of the whole trip

It could more than double the entire cost of the trip!

Posted by
13743 posts

Depends, two weeks at the Four Seasons in Budapest would be about $10K. Meals about $2K, Driver and car, figure another $2K. Figure a grand for the private yacht trip to Szentendre. A couple thousand more for a slightly more comfortable seat? No biggie.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the info. and opinions, everyone! I booked our tickets. $3500 and business class round trip on British Airways. I don't love LHR but I do love going up over the pole and leaving in the evening. I've done that flight a couple of times and found the timing great.

Posted by
4720 posts

I think you've got a good deal there Shannon.

I don't understand the gripes and snipes some people have when people to choose to spend THEIR money how they like. Sure, you could pay less and fly economy but if you don't want to for whatever reason and are happy to pay the price then go for it, who cares if you can do the entire trip for the same price as the pair of business class seats, some people are missing the point.

Posted by
13743 posts

I get a bunch of flack cause I don't travel with 7.5kg, one pair of shoes and I don't was my clothes in the sink every night. I've been told because I prefer a 1.5 hour flight over a 6 hr train ride, because I wear a sports coat to the theater, because I check a bag, because I will hire a guide for the day; that I am having a miserable time on my trips.

Posted by
6881 posts

Is the $3,500 ticket per person or for two?

Posted by
3709 posts

I shouldn't be surprised that business class fluctuates like coach, 3 times higher one day than the next, $3500 today $10,000 tomorrow.

Imagine if cars were priced like that. Oops, that Corolla was $24,000 yesterday but it's $75,000 today. Still interested?

Posted by
6881 posts

I shouldn't be surprised that business class fluctuates like coach

Dynamic pricing and segmenting the market into various fare classes/seat configurations produces much more revenue than flat fares. Besides, for business class tickets, it's largely (although not exclusively) a third party payer issue so the recipient is not price sensitive. It's probably easier to get away with a wide variation in pricing for a premium product than a basic one which is more of a commodity (price elasticity curves and all that...).

The car analogy is really shaky. If there's more demand for Corollas at a specific dealer than expected, the dealer can find another Corolla fairly quickly and get it to you (or could convince you another model is better than a Corolla). No constraints on supply (and, therefore, pricing). On a specific flight, there are only a fixed number of certain seats and you can't add any more (or reconfigure a cheap seat to an expensive one) - major supply constraint. Plus, people are more price sensitive when they have to purchase their own private car (unlike a business class ticket for work).

Posted by
3709 posts

Besides, for business class tickets, it's largely (although not exclusively) a third party payer issue

I'm learning from this forum that the number of people paying out-of-pocket for those seats is higher than expected. It's not all business people and non-revenue people (points tickets, employees, free upgrades) in those seats as I assumed. I'm also somewhat shocked that Shannon will have to pay $110-$150 each way to reserve seats if desired.

Posted by
6881 posts

I'm also somewhat shocked that Shannon will have to pay $110-$150 each
way to reserve seats if desired.

British Airways is known for extracting more profit through advanced seating fees (this is not true of other airlines). No one has to pay extra to simply secure a seat if they don't want to - they're still guaranteed a seat at check-in time, although not guaranteed to sit with their travel partner. Airlines wouldn't do these tricks if people weren't willing to pay, so it's a self-reinforcing spiral. Many people on this forum like to make the argument "but it's a small percentage of the total trip cost" (i.e. peanuts), so there you go...what's another $150 when you're already paying $3,500?

Posted by
2576 posts

Some airlines charge fees for checked luggage, BA charges for seats, I’m sure there are other fees out there. They are all designed to increase profit which maximizes shareholder value, which is what companies do. The point is to consider these fees in the context of the total cost to you for the booking. I don’t like paying to choose seats, but if the total fare is close to others, or, if it’s a bit more and the connections are better or some other factor besides price is important, then I book it. If you are that opposed to BA doing this, fine, don’t fly them.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the geography lesson. I did know that the flight doesn’t actually go over the Pole but it seemed easier and faster than saying “over part of Greenland rather than to the East Coast of the US or Canada and then on to LHR.” 🤪

Posted by
4720 posts

I don't believe that the majority of those flying business class are actually flying for business or indeed having someone else pay for it. When I fly business there is a real mix, young, old and during the school holidays it's mostly families.

British Airways have only recently started charging for choosing your seat in business class, you're not charged if you're Silver or Gold in their frequent flyer programme. This came in at the same time as introducing checked luggage fees, BA has always allowed 'free' checked luggage for all passengers but when Alex Cruz was brought in as CEO he was told to reduce costs and he introduced many of the features (or lack of) found in the budget carriers.