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For Thanksgiving airfare bargains, think business class

5:52 AM, Nov 8, 2013   |    comments
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It's no secret that this year is shaping up as one of the most expensive in recent memory for airline flights over the Thanksgiving holiday.

But while bargains may be few and far between, some travelers still hoping to find a deal - at least relative to the fare spike typical of the busy Thanksgiving travel period.

"Traditionally, one of the biggest Thanksgiving bargains has been to Europe," says George Hobica, founder of deal site Airfarewatchdog.com. He says it's business-class fares that really stand out on European routes.

They're an "especially good value" compared to normal business-class fares, he says.

Virgin Atlantic - for example - is offering fares in its Upper Class business cabin for as little as $1,616 from New York for travel over Thanksgiving. Fares are higher from other cities -- $1,836 from Boston and $2,036 from Washington - and there are restrictions. Still, those fares are a great deal for those who can afford it. Those rates are less than half of what Virgin Atlantic and other carriers typically charge for trans-Atlantic business class seats during most of the year.

Rival carriers were doing their business class seats, as well.

A search on booking site Kayak.com on Nov. 7 showed Lufthansa business-class fares between Chicago and Frankfurt priced at just $1,973 for nonstop flights departing Wednesday, Nov. 27, and returning Sunday, Dec. 1.

From Dallas/Fort Worth to Madrid, one-stop flights on KLM were going for $2,070 - a relative bargain compared to normal pricing. Air France was selling business-class seats on partner Delta, charging $2,622 for connecting service to Paris from Long Beach, Calif.

But even those types of fares were uneven, varying wildly from one city to the next. Business-class fares Nashville to Madrid, for example, were going for $5,930 on the same dates.

Domestically, Hobica also suggested people look to non-traditional destinations - like Las Vegas - that don't see travel spike during what's generally considered to be a family holiday.

Flights to Las Vegas tend to be a bit cheaper than to many other destinations during the Thanksgiving holiday, but that also was relative.

Examples of the lowest Las Vegas fares available for Wednesday-Sunday flights as of Nov. 7 (via Kayak.com and Southwest.com) were:

  • From Nashville: $414 on Southwest
  • From San Francisco/Oakland: $420 on Southwest
  • From Seattle: $448 on Southwest
  • From Chicago: $462 on Spirit, $493 on United
  • From New York/Newark: $644 on United


Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

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