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How to Find Affordable Business-Class Airfare to Asia

Wendy Perrin | March 31, 2015

Question:

Wendy, we’d like your help finding a reliable airline ticket consolidator for a July trip to Hong Kong for five of us. We need two business-class and three economy tickets on the same plane. Thank you for any guidance you can give us. —Bonnie

Answer:

Bonnie, for business-class airline tickets to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, I recommend contacting Al Thomas of International Travel Systems, a boutique consolidator with a high level of personalized service. Al negotiates low fares with about 30 airlines that he selects for their aircraft comfort, service level, convenient schedules, and quick layover times. Although 90% of the tickets he sells are business class, he does also sell premium economy and coach fares.

His business-class fares save you between 30% and 50%, depending on how far ahead you’re buying them and the time of year you’re flying. Business-class fares are relatively low over leisure-travel holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter, and relatively high from September through November and March through May (which are the two peak times of year for business travel).

For flights to Asia, Al uses mainly Cathay Pacific (which I’m sure he’ll use for your flights to Hong Kong) and Korean Airlines (he likes Korean’s new A380 with its all-business-class upper deck). For flights to Europe he focuses on Air France, Air Berlin, Alitalia, Delta, Icelandair, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic. For the Middle East, he uses Emirates and Etihad, which are rapidly extending their network beyond the Middle East to India, Southeast Asia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, the Maldives, and the Seychelles.

Another bonus: Al’s business-class fares are almost always refundable, minus a penalty of about $250 to $400 per ticket.

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7 Comments

  1. roza rozenfeld

    Wendy, I sent an email to Al Thomas thru your link as I needed 2 business class tickets from Sydney, Australia to Newark, NJ 2 weeks ago. I never received even an answer.
    Based on my experience with him, I don’t think he is such a reliable source.

  2. Judy K

    Wendy,
    I just wanted to let you know that I recently used Al Thomas (whose name I found on your website) for 3 business tickets to Russia in May 2018. He found a great deal and I purchased the tickets last Friday morning. Al was very clear that there would be $1000 cancellation fee per ticket. Unfortunately, later that evening I discovered that I had given Al the wrong date for the return flight. It was completely my fault. I was in panic mode thinking about my $3000 error. It was after hours but I left panicked emails and a voicemail messages for Al assuming that he wouldn’t get the message until Monday and I would have to pay the cancellation fees. Come Saturday morning I had voicemail and email messages from Al not to worry and he would take care of everything. And he did. He went above and beyond and took care of the problem including rebooking. Just wanted to let you know. Also, I am not a shill. I am in the process of booking my 2 second trip with one of your WOW agents so you should have a record of me. In any event, I just wanted to let you know.

  3. Mari C

    Wendy, do you have any other recommendations for business class ticket discounts? I tried Al, but maybe he’s become very busy. I got one email from him, but needed a slight adjustment. Haven’t received anything back since, and it’s been two weeks (I wrote polite email, and left voice message as well….) I wasn’t even able to reach someone on the phone at the office, just voice meail.. Really not sure what is going on and I’d really like to book this ticket ASAP so I have to give up on him.

    I tried a few other Biz class Discounters, but frankly so many of them seemed fishy……I just need a solid recommendation on who to trust. I’ve read too many scary stories about being being stranded somewhere due to an invalid ticket from a consolidator/ticket discounter.

    Thanks!

  4. colleeen

    Wendy, do you know if his fares are mileage-earning eligible? I thought consolidators aren’t.

    Also, would a $$ flight in business class be eligible for F upgrade using miles?

    I didn’t see either of these at his site.

    Thanks!

    1. Wendy Perrin

      All of Al’s fares earn mileage. As for an upgrade to the next class, that depends on the airline. Usually bulk tickets do not allow an upgrade. Also, most airlines no longer offer a first-class cabin. But where first class is available, Al probably offers discounted first-class fares too.

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