Update at 3:00 PM: Virgin Atlantic has updated its page and these fares are now only valid on one-way travel. Keep an eye on this page, in case they do change it back to round-trip.
Business class fares to Europe for next summer were recently discounted to under $2,000 round-trip. These discounted fares to Europe come around once or twice a year and buying tickets at these rates can often be a better value than redeeming frequent flyer miles. Aside from these alliance-based fares, there are also other ways to score relatively cheap business class tickets if you’re willing to travel in the off-season.
Virgin Atlantic regularly offers heavily discounted Upper Class fares to London. Virgin’s Upper Class product is similar to most airlines’ business class. Passengers get a flatbed seat, club lounge access, priority security, etc. The airline has dedicated pages on it’s website featuring discounted Economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class fares. Simply scroll over the “Destinations” tab on the upper left hand side of the page and select “Upper Class” under “Lowest fares & London deals.”
There, you’ll find the lowest priced Upper Class fares between various US cities and London, as well as the period during which these fares are valid. Flights departing from the East Coast go as low as $1,203 round-trip. West Coast fares are equally reasonable at $1,664 departing Los Angeles and San Francisco during the following period:
- November 23 – 28, 2014
- December 16, 2014 – January 3, 2015
These aren’t the most convenient dates, especially if you prefer to escape someplace warm during winter break. However, check back in January when the list is updated with the lowest fares for the next 3-4 months and traveling to London may become a bit more appealing.
Despite the lowest fare out of San Francisco being listed as $1,664, I found they go as low as $1,480.60 including taxes. What’s better, you can choose a return date slightly later than the listed cut off of January 3. As an added bonus, these fare are eligible to earn miles and tier points (10,716 miles + 4 tier points).
Fares like these are another example where channeling your spend on the Arrival Plus card can get you more value than putting the same spend on an airline credit card. It takes just 133,290 Arrival miles (including the 10% rebate on travel redemptions) to redeem a $1,480.60 Upper Class ticket. With the Arrival Plus earning 2 miles per $1, it would take just 66,645 in spend to earn enough miles for what is essentially a business class ticket. Putting that same amount of non-bonus category spend on an airline rewards card would generate enough for just an economy ticket, plus you would incur additional fees and taxes on award bookings.
Keep in mind that these discounted Upper Class fares are only valid on round-trip flights, so you will not be able to book one-way travel for half the price. Also passengers booking discounted fares will forego limo service, so if you’re accustomed to being chauffeured to the airport in a limo, lower your standards and use Uber for the same experience.
Virgin Atlantic’s discounted economy fares are also worth a look, with fares as low as $437 round-trip between Boston and London.
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