Each day at Fine Travel we are asked which airline offers the best Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe for a client's plans. As August generally marks the start of the UK / Europe Earlybird season, and the announcement of 30 June financial results for major airlines such as Air New Zealand and Qantas, it is timely to also look at our top selling Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe for the 12 months to 30 June 2019.
As a travel agency with a strong focus on Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe, we can draw on our own sales figures to establish our Top 5 Rankings. On the UK / Europe Business Class specials page on our website we rank airlines (there are currently 13 for the UK / Europe) based on their lowest "Lead In" Business Class price to London and another city in Europe (commonly Amsterdam or Paris) but for these rankings we rely on total sales.
Fine Travel Consultants aren't incentivised to promote one airline over another - so these results reflect our sales of airlines that, after we had worked through all the options for our clients, consistently had the best fit for their itinerary at the best price. We let the numbers speak for themselves.
1. Qatar Airways
Since launching its direct flight between Doha and Auckland in 2017, Qatar Airways has made a significant impact in the New Zealand Business Class market to the UK and Europe. With an award winning pedigree, a very sharp introductory price point, a lot of press around the flight from Auckland being the World's Longest, Qatar Airways quickly became popular.
Feedback from Fine Travel clients has consistently been positive, reflecting Qatar Airways' position as our number one selling airline for Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe. The release of the Qsuite on the flight from Auckland, which gives you a sense of being in First Class while in Business Class, is sure to help Qatar Airways maintain its position through the UK / Europe Earlybird Season.
The Emirates A380 is still a jaw dropping sight at the airport or in the sky. This remarkable aircraft (which still generates the comment "I can't believe it gets off the ground"), the two level configuration with Business Class upstairs, the direct flight to Dubai, the onboard Business Class bar and a comprehensive network all contribute to Emirates remaining very popular with Business and First Class travellers to the UK and Europe. Emirates was also the first airline to offer a Mixed Business Class / Economy airfare option.
Emirates continues to command a premium price, but with the above inclusions and the complimentary chauffeur service with luxury transfer company Blacklane to and from Auckland and Christchurch Airports (and at selected UK / Europe airports) it will no doubt continue to maintain a position in our top 5 ratings.
3. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines first started flying between New Zealand and Singapore in 1976 and with services from Auckland, Wellington (via Melbourne with the new A350 from 1 November 19) and Christchurch, Singapore Airlines has a network and onboard experience that continues to resonate with New Zealand Business Class travellers.
Singapore Airlines is the only Star Alliance member in our top 5 and it has a joint venture agreement with Air New Zealand for travel from New Zealand to the UK and Europe (and Asia). The quality of the Business Class and First Class cabins (with new designs being rolled out across the fleet), the ability to stopover in Singapore, the Star Alliance appeal for airpoints Gold and Elite members, Singapore Airlines popularity and position in our Top 5 is well deserved.
4. Etihad Airways
Although Etihad Airways has a high profile internationally, including through its sponsorship of the Manchester City Football Club, its popularity with Fine Travel's clients is relatively recent. Etihad Airways made a late run into the Top 5 with very well priced Business Class airfares and good availability of discounted booking classes and the option of a free 5 star stopover in Abu Dhabi. This all overcame the perceived downside of the trans-Tasman flights to connect with Etihad's flights out of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.
Etihad's Business Class Studio is an appealing Business Class product, however it is the three bedroom "Residence" that is Etihad's true point of difference. With a separate bedroom, sitting room and bathroom the Residence is a truly remarkable experience for travellers to the UK and Europe looking for a memorable once in a lifetime experience.
5. Cathay Pacific
We always keep a close eye on Cathay Pacific at the start of the UK / Europe Earlybird Season as in the first month it often discounts its Business Class and Premium Economy airfares to make a fast start for the season.
The A350 aircraft, availability of the required discounted Business Class fare class and an alliance with Air New Zealand between Auckland and Hong Kong contribute to Cathay Pacific being a consistently popular option with Fine Travel clients.
Other Notable Airlines
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand's marque Business Premier service via Los Angeles to London remains extremely popular which is reflected in the premium price point and how infrequently we see it included in Air New Zealand UK / Europe sales. Air New Zealand's extensive network into Asia and North America sees it pursue joint venture arrangements with other airlines who transport passengers to and from their final destinations in the UK / Europe.
China Southern was one of the first airlines to fly to New Zealand with a high quality Business Class seat, that was fully lie flat at a price point at or below the Premium Economy price of established carriers. For New Zealand travellers to the UK and Europe who might otherwise have flown Premium Economy for additional comfort, moving to a lie-flat bed and saving money made good sense.
We consistently receive feedback from our clients about the quality of Korean Air's Business Class meals - more than any other airline. With extremely attractive lead in Business Class specials and modern lie flat seats, Korean Air has become increasingly popular with Fine Travel clients.
There can be a lot to consider when deciding on a Business Class airfare to the UK and Europe. Choosing the right airline is just one piece of the puzzle. We've written a number of helpful articles on topics such as "When is the Best Time to Book a Business Class Airfare to the UK and Europe" which you can read on the Fine Travel blog.