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Want to Fly to Europe This Summer? Think Business Class, Not Economy

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Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

You’ve likely already received these deals. If not, log into your Premium deals hub to see every recent alert we've sent.

Everyone wants to go to Europe this summer for all the usual reasons. Add in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, and we're looking at unprecedented demand, creating some painful searches for travelers looking for cheap flights across the Atlantic.

Sadly, from what our team of flight deal analysts has seen for summer 2024 flights, that's exactly what's happening.


Minneapolis to Europe explore search


This was a recent Google Flights Explore search from my home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Many of the most popular destinations in Europe will cost $1,000 or more roundtrip in the middle of the summer just in economy. Look later into August and you'll see some slightly better fares, but not by much.

Not one of these roundtrip fares would be considered a deal for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members. Yet, we've sent dozens of peak summer deals to Europe in the last three months alone. How, you might ask?

Well, the best deals aren't flying economy. The best value for flying to Europe this summer is in lie-flat business class. 


Why Are the Best Deals in Business Class this Summer?

We'll show you some of our favorite examples in a bit, but first, let's look at why this is happening in the first place. And the trend isn't new, it's just new post-pandemic.

Travelers are probably used to seeing this: When you fly in the shoulder season – just before or after the summer months – you can see cheap fares to Europe when you fly economy. These flights from Boston (BOS) to Copenhagen (CPH) flying Scandinavian Airlines are a perfect example.


Boston to Copenhagen summer economy


Those $500 fares are a far cry from similar flights operating in the peak July and August months, where you are more likely to see $800, $900, or $1,000+ roundtrip fares.


Boston to Copenhagen economy


That's a tried and true trend in airfare. Aim for the edges or the shoulder season to save on economy flights. But when it comes to the front of the plane, it's the opposite.

Look at these peak summer nonstop flights on the same exact route in SAS's lie-flat business class. See the green dates? That's how Google Flights shows you these are the cheapest fares on the calendar.


BOS to CPH summer business class


Compare that to the fall, where fares suddenly shoot up to around $3,500 roundtrip.


Boston to Copenhagen business class fall


So, what's going on here? Historically, business class has been targeted at business travelers who travel less in the summer months and around the holidays. Therefore, business class fares rise and drop opposite to economy fares, which are targeted more at vacationers and leisure travelers.

The pandemic changed things, but now business travel is returning, meaning the usual backward business class fare calendar is back! That's great news for leisure travelers like us trying to take advantage of business class fares during peak summer – and the holidays, too.

The same goes for deals using points and miles as airlines open up award space for their lie-flat seats that have gone unsold as business travelers stay home during the summer.

Here's what we're talking about.


Condor Business Class to Germany

Are you lining up a trip to Deutschland? Do it in style onboard Condor's brand-new and super comfortable business class.


Condor business class


Our Thrifty Traveler Premium members received this deal in their inboxes recently to book some steeply discounted peak summer fares to Frankfurt (FRA).


Condor business class


Six different cities with Condor service saw these cheap fares. And eagle-eyed travelers may have noticed that these roundtrip business class fares were only about $1,000 more than a roundtrip economy ticket.


Condor economy prices


Of course, $1,000 is nothing to scoff at, but many travelers will fork over more than that to fly to Europe anyway. In this case, booking a lie-flat seat for that long flight across the Atlantic is a better value than sitting in the back.


Emirates Business Class to Italy

When you think about flying up front, the business class you're picturing probably looks something like the uber-swanky Emirates. Emirates and luxury are practically synonymous, which is why these peak summer Emirates flights to Italy had our Thrifty Traveler Premium members buzzing last week.


Emirates business class


Just 87,000 Emirates miles could put you on an early August flight like this one. If you earn points with American Express, Bilt, Capital One, Chase, or Citi, you could easily transfer them to Emirates to book.


Emirates business class


And if you look at nonstop flights between New York (JFK) and Milan (MXP) in economy…it's not pretty.


Emirates economy


Would you rather spend $1,100 roundtrip to fly in economy or fork over 87,000 points and about $100 each way instead? You already know my answer.


Virgin Business Class to London

Virgin has one of the sweetest looking, well, suites…in the sky right now. And in many cases, you can book those seats using Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for a tremendous value at just 71,000 points. It gets even better if you can take advantage of a transfer bonus like this 25% bonus from Chase, bringing the cost down to just 57,000 points! 


Virgin business class


These seats are well worth that many points, and there are plenty of opportunities to book them during the peak summer. How does July 26 sound? You could even pop over to Paris for the Olympics during your trip on those dates.


Virgin business class fare


While Boston (BOS) to London (LHR) flights aren't as expensive as some other routes, they'll still run you more than $800 per person to fly roundtrip.


LHR economy fares


American Airlines Business Class to Rome

When you combine American Airlines, business class, peak summer, and Italy, the cost of a ticket like that has to hurt, right?



AA biz class


This remarkable deal flying nonstop from New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) this summer would cost travelers between 58,000 and 69,000 miles each way depending on how you book – an insane value.


American business class


Plus, when you stack up those swanky seats with the economy alternatives, there's no question where the best value is.


Rome economy


SAS Business Class to Scandinavia

We'll end where we began: Looking at SAS's business class flying to Scandinavia this summer.


SAS business class


These lovely-looking business class seats are available for enticing rates on all these routes in the middle of summer. That includes the brand new Atlanta (ATL) to Copenhagen (CPH) route.


SAS business class


Plus, look at the cash prices on the new ATL route. The business class seat is only about twice as expensive. If that seems like a lot, know that business class seats are typically three to five times as expensive as the economy seat on most carriers.


SAS economy


Bottom Line

It's undeniable: Business class is a better value for your dollar (or points and miles) than economy if you want to fly to Europe this summer.

Summer in Europe is always busy and high demand usually creates high flight prices. With the Olympics coming to Paris in 2024, we expect more of the same for economy flights this year.

But this year, we're seeing some of the best prices and best award availability to fly business class to Europe next summer that we've ever seen. If you're looking for the best value, look at flying business class, not economy, for your summer 2024 trip.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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