After yesterday's post, some wanted to know "the best" flights / airline, regardless of surcharge(s). Fair enough, that probably means the cheapest ones, so I dove in again and came up with the following data (I calculated my own surcharge based on the experience I now have, so prices will differ from what you can find yourself)
(Like yesterday, I took a round-trip from New York to Amsterdam and back, leaving 21st of March and returning 4th of April. I compared both Economy as Business)
If you fly Lufthansa NYC-AMS, you can get an Economy flight for $ 230 plus $ 572.75 surcharge. Those are real ticket price and surcharges, with $ 50-60 variation in prices for the entire day.
Business Class charge you $ 5,030 ticket plus $ 742.75 surcharge for the only non-stop flight available, with the $ 646 fuel surcharge versus $ 476 for the same passenger in a different class that we saw yesterday already. One-stop flights both ways would cost $ 4,300 plus surcharge. Of course, like I showed, a pitstop will cost you an additional $ 40.97 surcharge.
By the way, also in Business there is only $ 50-60 variation in between tickets (then again there are only 5-6 choices per leg). They all depart late in the evening from NYC, and Economy as well as Business offer only one non-stop flight.
Interesting thing is, that half of these flights are operated by Continental - so let's go there shall we?
Continental's price for the Economy flights is the exact same, but for Business the difference is worthwile: the non-stop flight Lufthansa showed is now "free of charge", so to say: $ 4,300 and $ 742.75 surcharge: Continental must be reserving the best seats for themselves.
That exact flight is also the only one operated by Continental itself by the way, all the others are operated by United (vast majority), Eurowings or Lufthansa
All the others also make a pitstop somewhere, varying from Frankfurt, Denver, Chicago, with connect times from 12-15 hours, but also one with 3 hours connect time.
In Economy, these are all around $ 820 and vary from 10 hours travel time to 19, then jump to $ 3,200 for 12-19 hour traveltime, and finish off at around $ 4,800 and 14-15 hours.
For that last amount, you can also get a Business flight non-stop, with 8 hour traveltime. Speaking of which: after that, the usual: 10-19 hour one-stop flights for $ 5,000, $ 5,750, $ 7,200 and $ 8,200 - I fail to see any correlation there
So, from Lufthansa to Continental, we automatically get to United. What are their rates? (I know Continental and United are one and the same since May 2010, but who knows?)
The $ 5,000 Business non-stop flight is there, like the others: like Continental, all United flights but one have one stop on the way out, and back on the way in again. Business flights range from $ 5,000 to $ 8,000, with travel times in between 12 and 15 hours mostly.
Economy flights range from $ 800 (for the only one non-stop flight) to $ 3,000 (for "the Copenhagen connection") with most around $ 900-1,100 but I wouldn't fly United nor Continental unless you can get a direct flight. Paying double, triple or even quadruple for non-non-stop flights (sic) with up to 2.5 times the travel time is not a smart thing to do in my opinion.
Delta then? Offers non-stop as well as one-stop flights for $ 850 in Economy class including surcharges (with a neat and correct breakdown of those, well done Delta!) and variations are available for $ 970 or $ 1,289. Business class starts at $ 5,030 inclusing surcharge, and ends at around $ 6,000
All flights are in between 8 hours travel time and 12 although there's one with a 6 hour layover at Charles de Gaulle. A good amount of non-stop flights though, in Economy as well as Business
Last but not least: American Airlines. They use British Airways like Delta uses Air France / KLM, but don't offer a single non-stop flight, hopping over at Heathrow. Somehow strangely, they all leave in the evening, starting at 7 PM - just like Lufthansa.
No non-stop flights, all leaving in the evening, with the cheapest Economy flight at $ 870, maxing out at $ 1,070, I am certainly not attracted by AA's offers. Business Class then? Well, same flights, just different prices. So in stead of paying $ 870 for a one-stop late and long flight, I could also pick a seat in Business class and just pay $ 5,000 - or up to $ 6,100.
Hell, I could even fly First and pay $ 9,800 to $ 11,400 for the same inconveniences - why not?!
All in all, there is no difference whatsoever in price. Not at base prices, anyway. You can end up with huge differences if you pick the highest Economy or Business class tickets though, especially if you fly Continental / United.
Economy goes for $ 800 to $ 850 regardless of airline picked. Maybe that isn't so strange as all these airlines are somehow interbred: Lufthansa uses Continental, Continental uses United (sorry, is equal to), United uses Lufthansa, Delta is cooperating with KLM and Air France, etc.
Maybe that's why also all Business class flights start at around $ 5,000?
The major difference is in flight-time, which is determined by the airports used in between. Like in Lufthansa's case, it can pay off to pick a non-stop flight no matter what the cost is, see who actually operates that flight (Continental in my example), switch to their site and find out that you can save $ 700 on a $ 5,000+ Business ticket this way.
There is not much sense to make out of some flights: they fly later, longer, and cost you more. Maybe those get populated by the late-bookers who have no choice by then, but in my book that will teach you a costly lesson
Here are my picks, in order:
- All planes fly late from NYC so that's left out of the equation
- Delta offers plenty of non-stop flights at attractive prices, inbound as well as outbound, varying relatively very little from the base ones
- Lufthansa limits your choice to 5-6 flights a day. They don't have a cheapest non-stop Business flight - but you now know how you can get that anyway - and only one non-stop Economy flight
- Continental and United have a lot of choices, but those include also the really non-attractive ones given travel time and price. They offer one single non-stop flight
- American is the worst choice of them all. No non-stop flights at all, and 5-10% more expensive for a base Economy flight compared to the others, they offer nothing compelling at all
You might think I only care about non-stop flights. Well, that's not far off the truth. Paying amount X for getting from A to B is greatly influenced by the ease you do that with. I laugh at the differences in price for Business versus Economy, let alone First (usually double or more than Business!), as they're all subject to the same travelling conditions.
They may have a bigger seat but e.g. 15-19 hours of travel time for an 8 hour flight is a nightmare no matter how you spend it. Time is money.
Want to really get comfortable for a low price? Buy two seats in stead of one. Heck, buy an entire 3-seat row and you can have all the drinks and meals you want, sleep stretched and all that for half the amount someone in Business pays (for half the space and service!)
A word on all the different schemes: Economy, Economy Flexible, Economy Premium, Business Special, Business Flexible, etc: those are all methods of extortion of course. Just like you can't buy a single-trip ticket for any decent amount, it's better to just buy cheap and rip up the ticket if you have to.
Upgrading an $ 800 Economy ticket to a refundable Economy one for $ 3,500 (well thank you Delta!) is just stooopid, especially if you dare to read their Refund terms
Regarding that single-trip: e.g. Delta offers that for $ 2,000 - one single trip in Economy class! So what do you do? Order a round-trip for $ 800 and just don't show up for the return. You might even tell them if you like but I'm sure most airline systems aren't equipped to handle that kind of information
I know there are also wild ways to charge you at the gate, for luggage, for booking and Lawd knows what, but maybe that's food for another post. My weekend has seen enough airline sites for now - I hope you find this useful