HELP: MEL- USA on QF in September, could business class drop to $3000?

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Pieces

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Partner and I have leave in September, which we plan to spend in the USA following an itinerary:

MEL - LAS
LAS - SFO
Making our own way from San Francisco to New York via Amtrak
JFK - MEL

Should we book Qantas economy for $1420 pp right now (excluding the LAS - SFO segment) or wait for premium economy or business class fares to tumble closer to departure?

Are we dreaming or could business class fares ever go as low as $3000, our upper limit for airfares?

Are premium economy and business class deals usually offered months out or 'last-minute'?

We would love to fly international business for the first time if the price is within our reach otherwise we would be content with economy as long as the routing is as direct as possible.

Some advice from FFlyers and insiders would really help maximise our holiday experience.

Should we book now or wait for a better deal?
 

Mal

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With Qantas? Unlikely. They've reduced Business prices slightly, and also had 2-for-1 sales a couple of times in the last few months, but I'm not sure they're willing to go much further. I think the lowest they got to was about $7000 per person when using a 2-for-1.

I think the closest in price you'd see with Qantas is a 2-for-1 Premium Economy Sale - although, even then the going rate to the US was just over $3000 per pax.

V Australia seems to have specials for Premium Economy for ~$2000-$2500 at times. Eg, at the moment they have an unadvertised (?) sale in PE for $2000 ex MEL, with their advertised sale being about $2400 per person. The $2000 fare covers some dates in September.

Some Qantas fares are changeable (with a fee like $50 per person) to higher fares, so potentially if you bought a Qantas fare now with the right conditions, you may be able to upgrade it later to a sale Business/Premium Economy fare if one is released.
 
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dajop

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Just an opinion, but if it got to the point where QF felt it had to $3k J class fares, you would see a lot more services cut across the pacific. Still operating in the order 35-40 services a week at the moment, so I think they'd reduce that number them before offering prices as low as $3k.
 

Pieces

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Thanks for the intelligent advice on whether to book now or later.

Some Qantas fares are changeable (with a fee like $50 per person) to higher fares, so potentially if you bought a Qantas fare now with the right conditions, you may be able to upgrade it later to a sale Business/Premium Economy fare if one is released.

This approach is appealing and the QF "Sale" fare we are considering can indeed be used as credit for a higher fare.

V Australia seems to have specials for Premium Economy for ~$2000-$2500 at times.

V Australia commence direct MEL - LAX from 15 September, two weeks too late for our itinerary. Otherwise, it involves transiting through Sydney, a real downer for Melbourne international travellers.

We also wonder if V premium economy is that much better than QF economy worth spending $900 more for?

... if it got to the point where QF felt it had to $3k J class fares, you would see a lot more services cut across the pacific.

2009 is a very interesting time to be in the market for seats on this route. V and Delta rattling Qantas and United with more capaicty but mostly to the benefit of Sydney. Luckily the price pressure has had a halo effect on the MEL-LAX direct route even though it's a QANTAS monopoly (?).

Mental note: remember to check travel insurance for coverage in event of airline collapse.:!:
 
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oz_mark

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We also wonder if V premium economy is that much better than QF economy worth spending $900 more for?

Depends what you value, but premium economy on V Australia is more akin to premium economy on Qantas. So, your $900 would get you a wide seat, more legroom, bigger screens, compared to Qantas economy.
 

Pieces

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... premium economy on V Australia is more akin to premium economy on Qantas...

Comparing the price of PE on V Australia to Qantas, V wins hands-down.

However, in my mind, PE is a mystery: I know no-one who has flown it (I may have been upgraded on a domestic Virgin but was unable to tell the difference) and walking through it on the way back to coach it looks a bit like purgatory, not first-class heaven, nor economy-hell. I guesstimate it would be 10% better to fly but 100% more expensive than economy.

The appeal would probably be better than marginal if I actually knew of anyone who was like a PE 'evangalist' to sprook why it's worth it.
 

oz_mark

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Comparing the price of PE on V Australia to Qantas, V wins hands-down.

However, in my mind, PE is a mystery: I know no-one who has flown it (I may have been upgraded on a domestic Virgin but was unable to tell the difference) and walking through it on the way back to coach it looks a bit like purgatory, not first-class heaven, nor economy-hell. I guesstimate it would be 10% better to fly but 100% more expensive than economy.

The problem is that products in V Australia are different animals to products in Virgin Blue, so if your experience is with Virgin Blue, this will not give you an appreciation of what an international premium economy is like.

This is like Qantas - Domestic Business and International Business are vastly different products, that just happen to share the 'business' moniker.

I have not flown V Australia as yet so can't tell you what it is like. I have however flown Qantas Premium Economy and Jetstar StarClass and do appreciate the extra legroom, bigger seats etc these products provide. Come November I will likely be flying to LAX (to be confirmed), and V Premium Economy is certainly a product I will look at when I come to book.
 

Pixiechick

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Bad news. There's no way a business class seat (or even premium economy) will drop to $3000 return. Normal Business Class fares to JFK are $16000 return, with premium economy at about $8500 return. There is currently a sale on (which is almost unheard of, and not being publicised) for about 50% off on individual tickets. This is different than the 2-for-1 as it's good for individual seats. Business class is going for $8100 return. The sale is until 1 May for travel from 6 May to 30 June. I just booked a seat myself. The ticket is non-refundable, which is not usual for business class fares.

Qantas can't truly discount its seats to levels below about $6000 return (BC). As recently noted, they are more likely to get more revenue by converting more seats to economy configuration.

If you want to experience a premium economy product internationally, do try and use Star Class on Jetstar. I flew to Hawaii in Star Class at 1/4 the price of Qantas business class and was completely thrilled with the seat and service (and I'm a regular business class flyer internationally, so am quite used to QF/BA/etc. longhaul business class). If Jetstar started flying to the US, I would choose Star Class over Qantas Business anyday at 25% the fare!
 

Ewok

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Business will never get anywhere near $3k. However, I was on QF93 last week in J class. The ticket was just under $11k from memory. Anyway there were only 3 of us in Business class (have never seen 93 that empty). A family of 4 got on late who I suspected were staff, but even if they weren't that's a total of 7 in downstairs Business (I didn't check upstairs). Anyway, just before take off all of the Premium Economy passengers were bumped to Business. I overheard the crew say that they are upgrading all Premium Economy tickets "from now on" (no idea if this is true or not and the context was obviously if space permitted).

Food for thought.
 

Pieces

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Business will never get anywhere near $3k. However, I was on QF93 last week in J class. The ticket was just under $11k from memory. Anyway there were only 3 of us in Business class (have never seen 93 that empty). A family of 4 got on late who I suspected were staff, but even if they weren't that's a total of 7 in downstairs Business (I didn't check upstairs). Anyway, just before take off all of the Premium Economy passengers were bumped to Business. I overheard the crew say that they are upgrading all Premium Economy tickets "from now on" (no idea if this is true or not and the context was obviously if space permitted).

Food for thought.

And what a delicious thought it is... Premium Economy is conveniently on sale for $3,000 and now the rumor is business class upgrades are standard operating procedure.

I would love to have this rumor confirmed. (My go-between to a Qantas FA has had a huge spat with him, otherwise I could have put the question.) It would help if a senior member with standing could give an opinion. No offense to newbies, I'm one too.

We could be close to one method of satisfying the rather hopeful title of this post!
 

Evan

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For sure Y+ to J upgrades will never be given as standard, what may happen as standard is that QF will try to sell every seat in the plane without regard to preserving the F/J seats for paid fares and just upgrade people if they sell more Y tickets.

And i have done plenty of whY long haul in whY and there have been a full down the back but free seats upfront. No auto upgrades ! (I am WP also)
 
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