A reader recently asked if we could update our 2008 list of agencies that sell discounted business-class tickets. The answer is yes. Here's our current list:
- ASAP Tickets
- Cook Travel
- Executive Class Travel
- Fare Buzz
- First Class Travel
- Horizon Trip
- Join Us Travel
- Premium Travel
- The Travel Team
- Travel Tek
A few of these agencies' websites provide online fare search, but most of them operate by asking you to submit an itinerary, to which they will reply with a fare quote. The best deals are almost always for intercontinental flights; you can't do much with domestic travel. Although pricing varies a lot—by airline, destination, season, and such—we have found three general patterns:
- Tickets with at least one stop—especially to Europe—usually cost quite a bit less than nonstop itineraries.
- The lowest fares are often on airlines with less-than-competitive business-class seats and service.
- Agencies that do not provide online fare search generally have better fares than those that do.
Typically, agencies that offer really good discounts are coy about naming the airlines you'll use until you're actually ready to buy. That's understandable, as the airlines want to keep it that way.
As is usual in discount markets, we can list agencies, but we can't vouch for any individual agency. If you're concerned, Google the agency or check some of the gripe sites. As far as we know, none of the agencies listed are coupon brokers that buy and sell frequent-flyer awards. Even though the prices might look good, business-class award seats are so hard to find that your chances of arranging a satisfactory itinerary are, as the math types say, "vanishingly small."
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