British Airways has some great business class fare sales right now for travel this fall/winter to major European cities if you book today or tomorrow. For example, I found tickets from Seattle to Paris for just $2,065 per person without much effort. Additional dates and cities can be easily searched using the calendar and multiple destination functions of ITA Matrix. But you can pay much less than than the advertised prices.
UPDATE: Read my follow-up post to see an even better deal for less than $1,100 and how to turn it into a great mileage run!
Whenever booking fares on British Airways — even after this particular sale ends — remember that you may be able to take advantage of two discounts:
- $65 to $400 per ticket savings with AARP membership
- 10% savings with British Airways Visa Signature credit card (you don’t actually need to pay with this card)
I had heard that the AARP discount was ending this month, but the offer details on this page suggest that it has been extended again through October 2016. Anyone can take advantage of it if they purchase an AARP membership for $16 per year. (Multi-year discounts are also available.)
The BA Visa discount is only available if you have a BA credit card from Chase and only on BA fares. I don’t use this card much anymore because it only earns 1 Avios per dollar on most purchases instead of the former 1.25 Avios. However, the 10% discount stacks with AARP and can easily be worth the $95 annual fee if you spend more than $1,000 on tickets.
After applying these two discounts, the $2,065 fare dropped to $1,500 per person for paid business class. How many miles will you earn if you credit to partners like Alaska Airlines or American Airlines?
Alaska awards the actual miles flown plus a 50% bonus for I fares (the overwater portion) and a 150% bonus for J fares (the intra-Europe portion). These are both award miles and elite qualifying miles.
American awards the actual miles flown plus a 25% bonus for I and J fares. These are award miles only; elite qualifying miles are just the distance flown. But if you choose to qualify on points, you’ll receive 1.5 EQP per mile.
How to Book Discounted Fares
You must click through from a special page to access the AARP discount, though the BA Visa discount can be applied near the end. I’ll walk you through the steps.
Sign up for AARP
Just click on this link to register and follow the process. Remember to use your membership number to create an online account at the end! You’ll need it to access the booking page.
I’m 31 years old, and I now have an AARP account before either of my parents. :/
Visit the AARP Booking Page
British Airways and AARP have a special page to access these discounts. You must start your search there and log into AARP. The discounts will already be included in the fares displayed. Remember that these are:
- $65 off economy class
- $130 off premium economy class
- $400 off business or first class
In some cases business class was only slightly more than economy class due to the combined effects of cheap published fares and the AARP discount. You may also see discounts on other oneworld Alliance members such as American Airlines, but remember you’ll need to book on BA if you want to apply the credit card discount at the end. Don’t worry if the initial search page won’t let you select business class from the drop down menu; it still appears in the results.
Apply the British Airways Visa Discount
Near the end of the booking process, remember to enter the code CARDOFFERU. An additional 10% will be removed from the already discounted fare. This window does not appear until you click the “Promotion code or eVoucher” radio button.
Enjoy your business class flight. With two daily flights, this is one of the easiest ways to reach Europe from Seattle. There are also options from other gateways like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
I hate connecting on the East Coast when going to Europe from the West Coast, yet award space is so difficult to find. Furthermore, British Airways has some pretty ruinous fuel surcharges and taxes on its award tickets, even when using Alaska Airlines or American Airlines miles to book. Booking premium tickets at a discount can still be an option.
In this particular example, it broke down the taxes in a separate field and said they were $1,088 per person even though the entire ticket cost just $1,500! If you can book during a sale and take advantage of these discounts, you’ll pay only a little more out-of-pocket, you’ll have much more freedom to book the itinerary you want, and you’ll be able to earn more miles instead of redeem them.