The end-of-year is almost here and Christmas usually heralds the start of a seat sale frenzy. The British Airways Sale has just landed and it’s looking a bit lukewarm in business class. Some of the Caribbean destinations look cheaper than normal, although the prices a generally too high for us.
There are one or two attractive First Class fares on a small number of routes and Premium Economy fares are looking good value. If you’re keen to try Club Suites on a budget, an A350 is operating the short 5 hour flight to Tel Aviv for £1,141. That still works out at an astronomical £114 per flying hour (you can fly first class on a 5-star airline for that!)
Overall, we think it’s a little underwhelming at this stage. By that, we expect better prices to be released in the latter stages of this sale. We think it’s no coincidence that prices are comparable to those offered in the Virgin Atlantic Winter sale, launched a day earlier. Let’s dig into some of the detail of the British Airways sale…
We think the Upgrade from Business to First for £399, and Economy to Premium Economy, are the real head-turners for this sale. With only a £199 fare difference between Economy and Premium Economy (normally double the Economy fare), and only £399 between Business and First (normally double the Business fare), we think the biggest discounts will be found in Premium Economy and First. Read our article on how we value the seats in various cabins.
Almost all destinations are included in the sale for at least some departure dates. The following are examples of business class fares:
- Tel Aviv £1,141 (The 16:55 flight is A350 Club Suites)
- Montreal £1,295
- Portland £1,388 (from June 2020)
- Antigua, St Lucia, Tobago, Barbados, St Kitts, Grenada £1,399
- Washington DC £1,388
- New York £1,464
- San Francisco £1,569
- Shanghai, Beijing £1,894
In First, we’ve found the following:
- Nashville £1,984
- San Francisco £1,990
- San Jose £1,990
- Chicago £1,991
- Mexico City £2,165
- Shanghai, Beijing £2,394
And finally, Premium Economy:
- Tel Aviv £487
- Abu Dhabi £518
- New York £546
- Muscat £557
- Boston £596
- Chicago £607
- Toronto £631
- Shanghai £646
- Punta Cana £695
- Los Angeles, San Francisco £732
All flights are direct and non-stop from London.
There are a lot of blackout dates covering popular travel periods. Check the Travel Dates section below, but also refer to the specific terms and conditions for the route you’re hoping to fly. The lowest fares are only available on midweek departures.
Most BA long-haul aircraft are operating the old Club World seats, rather than the recently publicised Club Suites. These are noticeably tired on BA’s ageing 747s and the 777s that haven’t yet had a cabin refresh.
We think some of these business class fares may be about 20-30% higher than the cheapest BA fares found throughout a typical 12-month period. We’re seeking a bargain, and don’t have an immediate need to book travel, so we’ll wait to see if better business class fares come along. BA even say on the website:
Advertised flight prices discounted from lowest price available in the 44 days before 19 December 2019. Flight prices may have been available at a lower price between 5 to 7 November 2019.British Airways Sale web page (https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/offers/sale)
Availability really depends on the route. Broadly speaking, travel between 19 December 2019 and 31 December 2020. There a notable blackout periods, which coincide with major UK holidays:
13 Feb 2020 – 16 Feb 2020 – Valentines + school half term!
26 Mar 2020 – 24 Apr 2020 – Easter!
22 May 2020 – 24 Oct 2020 – Summer!
11 Dec 2020 – 23 Dec 2020 – Christmas!
- Departure points: London
- Book by: 30 January 2020
- Travel until: 31 December 2020
- Minimum stay: Saturday night
- Weekend departures: No – midweek departures only.
- Sectors: 1 each way
- Booking class: I
- Stopovers: Permitted.
- Frequent flyer points accrual: Yes. 150% miles flown.
- Tier Points accrual: Yes. 100%.
- Refundable: No
- Changes after booking: Yes, for a hefty £300 fee.
How to Book
The cheap fares can be found directly on the ba.com website. We find the Google Flights calendar feature easier to find the cheap travel dates. Handily, you can then complete the booking directly through a link to the itinerary on BA’s site.
There’s a good chance BA launched this sale to compete with Virgin’s (read more about Virgin’s sale). Prices are comparable, although BA has a more extensive route network.
We’re not sure these are the cheapest BA business class fares we’ll see over the coming months, so we’ll be keeping our wallets in our pockets and will wait to see what comes in January. New year is when a lot of travel plans are made, so it’s unsurprising the airlines aren’t going rock with their fares just yet. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for bigger discounts later in Q1 2020.
If you buy, consider paying for the flight using an American Express Membership Rewards or British Airways Premium Plus card, so you can earn Avios for the cash you spend too.