When airlines set business and first class fare levels too high, flyers stop buying. Carriers use business class buying events, where fares are quietly slashed 80% or more for a few days, to fill unsold seats. Once the buying event ends and seats are sold, fares typically move higher once again. Here are the top five premium buying events that you might have missed in 2016 so far:
1. 31st May 2016: Houston – Europe business fares fell to just $550 round trip!
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Here’s an economics lesson for you. When oil prices fall more than 70% within a year, as they did between 2015 and 2016, businesses with exposure to energy, manufacturing and minerals may stop spending on luxury travel. That’s exactly what happened in Houston, a city that airlines have traditionally excluded from buying events. On May 31st, carriers like Delta launched an aggressive fare attack on Star Alliance hub cities including Houston. The most extreme fares detected included $550 plus tax round trip business class between Houston and Frankfurt or Zurich.
2. 3rd May 2016: American Airlines’ $802 business class fares from Paris sets record
On May 2nd, American Airlines’ lowest business class fare between Paris and the U.S. started at $3,671. One day later, however, business class fares with American Airlines plummeted all the way down to just $802 + taxes round trip, a 78% correction overnight! New record lows were set to West Coast destinations like Los Angeles and San Francisco at this rate. This record-setting fare turned out to be a one-day event and was suspended almost as soon as it began, concluding on May 5th, 2016.
3. 12th July 2016: $1,705 London-Seattle British Airways First Class
Okay, so $1,705 may not initially seem like an amazing deal, but this fare was for first class, not business class. Second, consider that British Airways’ first class fares to Seattle normally start at $8,280, and fares can top out over $16,000 round trip. First class fares were also slashed to other cities, but none quite as much as Seattle. This represented up to 90% savings and may be one of the cheapest first class fares in relation to the flight distance and quality of product of all time!
4. 10th January 2016: 80% business class fare cuts with Qatar Airways
On January 10th, One World member Qatar Airways started the new year off with a bang by initiating an epic fare sale. The most extreme discounts were found for travel originating in Montreal. Examples of extreme discounts include the following:
Fares were valid for travel anytime in 2016, but this buying event was suspended just one week later on January 17th, 2016. When this buying event was launched, Passport Premiere members received their member intelligence report and many originated trips “north of the border” in Montreal to capitalize on this buying opportunity.
5. Business fares to South Africa plummet 80% or more
In 2014, business fares to South Africa on Delta operated nonstop flights via Atlanta routinely starting at $7,000. On days of peak demand, it wasn’t uncommon to see business class fare exceed a jaw-dropping $17,000! As energy and commodity prices tanked in 2015, so did the appetite for overpriced business class tickets. By 2016, Delta and other carriers were forced to respond to anemic demand with dramatic fare cuts. The most extreme example included Dallas – Johannesburg from $2,772 plus taxes round trip on business class or Toronto-Capetown from just $2,182 plus taxes round drop on business class.
If there are others you think we’ve incorrectly omitted and should be included, please feel free to chime in using the comment section below.
Lars Condor is the Managing Director of Passport Premiere.
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