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Can you afford to fly business class to Europe?

SmarterTravel

No matter how you slice it, flying business class between the U.S. and Europe is an expensive endeavor. But with the introduction of all-business-class carriers in the last few years, there’s at least a more affordable way to jump across the Pond in style.

Maxjet, Eos, and Silverjet (to London), and L’Avion (to Paris) were the first big four airlines connecting New York with Europe, until Maxjet folded late last year. The gap left by Maxjet isn’t likely to be around for long, though: British Airways has announced all-business-class flights between London and New York starting in 2009. Plus, Eos is considering expanding into other U.S. cities, which would bring all-business-class service closer to the rest of the country.

You might think that flying on an exclusively business-class airline would make it more expensive, but often the opposite is true. For example, a round-trip flight between New York and London in late April was $2,359 on Silverjet, but $3,121 in business class on American (for reference, the cheapest coach fare on American was $659). That’s roughly $760 less on the all-business carrier. Specialty carriers often provide additional perks as well, such as 30-minute check-in and private terminals (Silverjet), or private suites onboard (Eos).

Though you can’t save up coach miles to score a glorious ride up front like you can on the legacy airlines, the affordability factor brings business class within reach to people willing to pay a premium—just not through the nose—for a more comfortable flight.

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