THE BEST REVENGE? FLY BUSINESS CLASS.
By Joe Brancatelli
October 2, 2008 -- Just between you, me and the Internet, it's okay to admit it: This financial upheaval has gotten to you.
I've been writing about business and finance for more than 30 years and I'll admit it: This thing scares me, partially because I don't know anyone who understands all of the issues, all of the jargon and all of the angles. Throw in the politics of a Presidential election, the growing cultural divide over who's to blame for which bum mortgages and which worthless paper and we have a very frightening scenario.
So forgive me if I don't write about the great issues of business travel this week. Instead, allow me to paraphrase 1 Corinthians: We might as well, eat, drink and fly business class at a huge discount to someplace cool because tomorrow we might die economically.
The eating and drinking part is up to you, of course, but I do have some nifty international business-class deals to discuss this week. And I know more are coming, given the softening economy. So consider this week's column a (ahem!) down payment on even more bargains to come.
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE A CHRISTMAS IN IRELAND
Aer Lingus has a very nice business class and a terrific new West Coast route and folks are just mad about Dublin, a lovely town with wonderful restaurants, great sights and an affinity for Americans. Now there is an amazing fare for business-class travel over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. How about $715 one-way from New York/Kennedy, Boston or Washington/Dulles? Flights from O'Hare are just $769 one-way. And here's the real stunner: It's only $799 one-way in business class from Aer Lingus' newest gateway, San Francisco. That's probably the best fare up front I've seen since carriers started discounting in business class late in 2001. The valid travel dates on this Aer Lingus promotion are November 23-29 and December 20-January 2. The restrictions are familiar (nonrefundable with a $300 change fee, a 30-day advance purchase) with some notable exceptions: The fares, which do not include taxes and fees, do not come with lounge access--and there are no day or length of stay rules. You can see more details at the Aer Lingus Web site (click the "holiday fares" button), but you must call 800-IRISH-AIR to book your seats.
YOU'LL BE ABLE TO SEE LAPLAND FROM YOUR HOTEL ROOM (NOT!)
If Ireland doesn't float your holiday boat, how about Scandinavia? SAS Scandinavian has just posted some notable business-class fares for the same Thanksgiving (November 23-29) and Christmas/New Year (December 20-January 2) periods. The prices are higher, however, although they do include fuel surcharges. From Newark, one-way fares to Stockholm and Copenhagen are about $1,550 each way. It's about $80 more from the Midwest and Washington/Dulles and $130 more from the West Coast. A nice fillip: The fares include onward travel to elsewhere in the Nordic region. A Saturday-night stay is required to nab these prices; the fare code is ZQUSSCB2. Examine the deals here.
ONE SINGULAR SENSATION TO SINGAPORE--AND ON SALE
Singapore Airlines is the last carrier using the ultra-long-range Airbus A345s to fly nonstop between the United States and Asia. And it's also the only carrier to fly all-business-class routes from Los Angeles and Newark to Asia. The 100-seat jets now have Singapore Air's awesome 30-inch-wide lie-flat beds, a nice perk considering the flights last 18 hours or more. The problem, at least until now, is that Singapore rarely discounts up front. The good news? The airline has just knocked about a third off its roundtrip business-class A345 flights if you travel on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Better yet, the $5,999 roundtrip price includes all surcharges, taxes and fees. To get the lower price, you need to book seven days in advance and travel by December 31. For more information and details on add-on fares to destinations beyond Singapore, surf here.
OPENSKIES OPENS UP THE PRICES ON PREM+, IT'S 'NEAR' BUSINESS CLASS
British Airways' boutique carrier, OpenSkies, has garnered a hefty packet of reviews for its New York/Kennedy-Paris service. On October 15, it launches flights to Amsterdam, too, and goes to a unique, two-class in-flight configuration: a BA-style business class with lie-flat beds and a product called prem+. It features a 2x2 layout that offers 40 chairs with 52 inches of legroom and 140-degree reclines. The prem+ cabin is the equal of many carriers' business class and the prices are outstanding: just $740 one-way to Amsterdam and $769 to Paris. The restrictions at these capacity-controlled prices are mild: 14-day advance roundtrip purchase and a $200 change fee. These are OpenSkies' new regular discount fares. I expect you'll see some interesting promotional prices in the days and weeks to come. So keep your eyes peeled. For information, surf here.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HOTEL FRONT…
A couple of weeks ago, the "big bargain" on the Steals & Deals page was an interesting $19.28-a-room offer from Leading Hotels of the World. The 80-minute online auction, held this week, seemed to go horribly wrong. I've heard from several JoeSentMe members about problems with the promotion and I've got some calls in to Leading folks. Listen, you know me, I'm the suspicious type. But I'm willing to cut Leading the benefit of the doubt. Companies like Leading, which don't discount much, often have trouble when they try to get into the promotional game. Cutting prices takes practice, you know. But we'll see what they have to say for themselves…
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.
THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.
This column is Copyright © 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.