Chairman's Choice: Air Choices with British Airways
British Airways (BA) offers more business class and first class flights into or from London and the United Kingdom than any other airline. British Airways trans-oceanic and long haul international flights operate with four classes of service.
Economy (branded was World Traveler) - British Airways (BA's) economy product is a standard economy class seat with a 31" seat pitch.
Premium Economy (branded as World Traveler Plus) - This product is designed to be a middle ground between economy and British Airways (BA) business class offering a slightly more spacious travel experience than economy with a 38" seat pitch, fewer seats abreast, and in seat laptop power without the business class pricing premium. However, as British Airways (BA) World Traveler Plus can command a price premium of more than 10 times the price of a British Airways (BA) World Traveler ticket, the limited product differentiation between these two lower cabin classes may not justify the additional fare. British Airways motivating factor behind its introduction of World Traveler Plus was likely to require a higher fare level from which members of its Executive Club would need to pay to upgrade to business class. Most U.S. carriers allow frequent flyers to purchase inexpensive economy ticket and then use frequent flyer mileage to upgrade to business class. A traveler between New York and London could purchase a deeply discounted economy ticket for $200 + taxes with American Airlines and use miles to upgrade to business class. To use frequent flyer (Executive Club points) to upgrade to business class with British Airways, travelers would need to purchase a World Traveler Plus ticket at fares ranging from $1,000 -$3,200 + taxes This allows British Airways (BA) to command higher fare premium s for upgrade minded passengers.
Business Class (branded as Club World) - British Airways (BA) Club World passengers have access to business lounges at most airports. On 13 November 2006, British Airways (BA) launched a new Club World service (termed Next Generation New Club World), offering larger seats and a service revamp. The Club World service offers a 20" wide, 6' long fully flat bed (6' 6" long in Next Generation New Club World cabins), with 24 seats on the 767-300ER (New Club World), either 40 or 48 seats on the 777-200 (New Club World), and, since 2007, either 52 or 70 seats on the 747-400 (Next Generation New Club World.
First Class - The long haul first class product on British Airways (BA) is offered only on British Airways Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 aircraft (as of October 2008). There are 14 private "mini-cabins" with 6' 6" beds, in-seat power for laptops, personal phones, and entertainment facilities. Meals are available on demand. British Airways (BA) offers dedicated check-in facilities at some airports. At airports without dedicated First check-in, passengers use Club World check-in. British Airways (BA) is scheduled to introduce a new brand of First Class in March 2009. The British Airways (BA) First Class experience starts on the ground with the use of the British Airways (BA) FIRST lounge. In the lounge, travelers can enjoy waiter service allowing for maximum rest during their flight. Once onboard, your suite turns into a perfectly flat bed with British Airways turndown service. Of course if you prefer to work, phones and in seat power allow travelers to stay in touch with the world from 35,000 feet.
Premium Class Pricing Options
The most popular British Airways premium class cabin is Club World (Business Class). There are a number of pricing options available for business class travel with British Airways by the airline directly depending on when an itinerary is purchased and ticket restrictions that are met. Members of British Airways Executive Club can also significantly reduce business class fares through the purchase of a World Traveler Plus ticket and using points to complete an upgrade. Finally, when travel is requires less than 14 days from the booking date the most competitive pricing will likely be found via a third party business class specialist.
Business Class (Travel more than 42 days from the booking date)
When travel is well planned in advance and your travel dates are more than 42 days from the booking date and you spend a Saturday night at your destination, British Airways offers it lowest pricing directly to the traveling public via its website or mainstream travel websites. It is unlikely that you will achieve meaningful savings using a third party intermediary or British Airways Executive Club points for upgrades when travel is more than 42 days from the booking date. British Airways published discounted business class fares originated in the U.S. to Europe normally carry a penalties ranging from $400-$800 for changes or cancellation. When travel originates in the U.K. to North America, Asia or Australia advance purchase discounted business class fares are often non refundable and non changeable. In other words, if you purchase a special sale fare from the U.K. and you do not travel on the exact flights which are initially ticketed you will lose 100% of the fare paid without the ability to apply the initial ticket for future travel.
Business Class (Travel less than 42 Days)
When travel is less than 42 days from the booking date, British Airways published business class fares can escalate by more than 100% . The best three methods for discounted business class travel with British Airways when travel is less than 42 days from the booking date are as follows:
World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy) - Ticket Purchase + Executive Club Points- Discounted World Traveler Plus tickets are generally available with just a 7 day advance purchase and a Saturday night stay. Between the U.S. and Europe, British Airways World Traveler Plus fares can be purchased between $1,000- $2,000 + the points for the upgrade. This can yield several thousand in savings compared with published fares.
Contact Fares - British Airways does offer discounted business class tickets with fewer restrictions than are available on its own website through third party intermediaries. These intermediaries are normally restricted from advertising a price that is lower than what British Airways publishes on BA.com so you may need to hunt to find a provider with British Airways contract fares. Remember, if your travel date is more than 42 days from your booking date you will likely find the same or lower pricing by going directly to BA.com. When travel is less than 42 days from the booking date, the use of a business class intermediary can save you thousands. These intermediaries may refer to their special British Airways business class fares as being offered by a "ONE WORLD CARRIER" or "TRANSATLANTIC ONE WORLD FOUR CABIN CARRIER." This is designed to prompt a telephone call to the intermediary and the details of the carrier and fare are then explained. Some premium membership clubs allow travelers to view discounted business class fares with British Airways on-line through closed access architecture. Depending on the destination and date of booking, discounts can be as much as 50% or more for business class travel. Discounts for First Class travel are generally less substantial because of the smaller supply of First Class Seats.
European/Asian Originations - Perhaps the best overall value for discounted business class tickets with British Airways can be had by originating a ticket in a EU or Asian country where British Airways publishes business class fares that are priced lower with fewer restrictions compared with U.S. or U.K. originations. As an example, a restricted business class fare between Washington and Zurich with British Airways will typically sell for $5,000 round trip + taxes and carrier penalties for changes or cancellation. The same ticket originating in Zurich to Washington is generally $3,500 + taxes without penalties for changes. There are several cities in Europe and Asia where the fare originating in that city to the U.S. is significantly less than the same ticket originated in the U.S. to Europe or Asia. Frequent international travelers can achieve significant savings by purchasing a one way ticket to a city where fares may be less, and then begin a pattern of reverse origination which can yield significant savings with fewer restrictions over a 12 -24 month period.
Additional Discounts with British Airways
And with over 20 other international carriers................
Maximum business class and first class discounts with are available to members of Passport Premiere. Members benefit from a greater selection of airlines, more direct schedules and greater savings than the member would receive as a non member. The member pays an annual fee for unlimited access to Passport Premiere database of partner airlines. Several partner airlines will only provide reduced prices to customers that are members of one of these clubs in order not to distort the carriers' retail pricing structure.
Passport Premiere members are issued a unique user ID and password that provide access to the private fare database that is not available to non members. Passport Premiere registration can be completed on-line at:www.passportpremiere.com/creditauthpp.cfm.