After the 2018 Business Class Earlybird airfares were released in late 2017, the rest of the year seemed to disappear at an alarming rate. Discounted Business Class airfares to Europe were released from the major airlines and now the biggest challenge has become finding availability.
For 2018 Business Class travel to Europe we have seen a similar pattern to prior years:
- The first round of Business Class Earlybirds (released in late 2017) were effectively a "resetting" of discounted levels to what should be the lowest levels (to reward those who book early).
- Depending on the uptake, airlines then either extend or start increasing their prices as each round of specials expire.
For 2018 travel once the first round of Earlybirds were released and we kept our clients and subscribers updated via our Business Class Sales Alerts as each new round is released.
What happened with 2017 Earlybird Airfares to Europe?
Looking back on the 2017 Earlybirds, Cathay Pacific was one of the best examples of why being ready for the first round of Earlybirds pays dividends. In September 2016 Cathay Pacific Business Class Specials started at a remarkable $5,569*pp return (based on Amsterdam) and then increased steadily from there.
Towards the end of the 2017 specials cycle Cathay Pacific's discounted Business Class fares started from $6,865*pp return (based on Amsterdam). So a couple who planned ahead and were ready to book in September last year saved themselves almost $2,600 on their Business Class airfares to Europe.
Airline Competition & Qatar Airways
Airline competition kept pressure on prices in 2017 and Qatar Airways played a big part in that. When Qatar Airways released its Business Class airfares to Europe at levels consistently below established levels for a premium carrier, there was a clear message it wanted to make a mark in New Zealand.
Qatar Airways has continued this pattern with its 2018 Earlybirds and is consistently leading the way with exceptional discounts.
What to do now?
The challenge with Business Class specials is that the airlines only release limited seats at discounted prices over the peak UK / Europe travel periods (generally June, July and August).
If you have an event in the UK / Europe that you are travelling for (maybe a wedding or a significant birthday) now is the time to commit to what you would also like to do around that event. That way we have a better chance of finding seats on the days you want to travel and can incorporate Earlybird specials that are available for guided tours, cruises, accommodation and other events.
If you are looking to add a European River Cruise or a guided tour to your 2018 European itinerary, it is not too early to secure your place. Generally cruise lines and tour companies offer generous early booking discounts and you only need to pay a deposit at this stage to secure your cabin.
This blog was updated on 29 December 17 and 19 February 2018.