Summer business class sale beckons bargain hunters

Lufthansa's A380 flying SFO-FRA has a whopping 98 business class seats

Economy class round trips between SFO and Europe during peak summer travel season (July/August) are now approaching $1,500 round trip- and will continue to creep up to near the $2,000 mark over the next few months.

However, airlines have a tough time selling those big business class seats on transatlantic flights because a lot of business travelers are on vacation during July and August. Due to the drop in demand for business class during summer, airlines are dropping prices- from the standard $6,000-$8,000 round trip to as little as $2,250 round trip.

For example, Lufthansa’s round-trip, all-in business class fares from SFO range from $2,250 to $3,500 depending on your final destination. (See chart below.) You must book your trip by May 31 for trips beginning June 29 and ending before September 1.

These fares are good on Lufthansa as well as its Star Alliance partners Air Canada, Swiss or United. United has matched Lufthansa’s business class sale. So have SkyTeam airlines such as Delta, KLM and Air France. Virgin Atlantic has joined in the fun. However British Airways does not appear to be joining in on the sale at this time.

Lufthansa fares from SFO:

With fares that low for business class…would you pay the premium for a big seat up front?

SFO to get posh new biz/first class lounge

Entry at the Emirates Lounge in New Delhi-- expect similar touches like marble, polished wood and gold letters at SFO (Photo: C. McGinnis)

Dubai-based Emirates Airline has announced that it will open a new business and first class lounge on the A side of the international terminal at SFO later this year.

It will be Emirates’ only lounge on the West Coast…not even LAX gets one of these posh perches.

(Want to see what’s in store for SFO? Scroll down for my slideshow of photos inside Emirates lounges in Dubai and Delhi.)

Emirates currently operates a single daily Boeing 777 SFO-Dubai flight from the G (left) side of the international terminal where it provides business and first class passengers with access to United’s lounges.

The new 9,502 square foot club will be located on the A (right) side between gates 3 and 5 (on the left as you walk from security) and directly across the terminal walkway from the British Airways lounge.

As in other Emirates facilities around the world, cost does not seem to be much of an object with the SFO lounge—expect marble floors, gold Rolex Clocks, fresh flowers, HD televisions, exclusive restrooms and showers, a business center, workstations and free wi-fi. (See slideshow below for a peek of what’s in store.)

Crowding should not be an issue since the lounge will be exclusive to Emirates first, business and elite frequent flyers. (Emirates says that it will not share loung access with any other carriers.)  An Emirates 777 holds only 50 first and business class passengers, but the lounge is designed to accommodate a maximum of 265, including a dining area for 77.

Chefs will prepare and present a wide array of hot and cold dishes from an on-site kitchen. There will also be a full bar (flights depart SFO at 4:45 pm…conveniently close to cocktail hour).

Unusual: Business and first class passengers will be able to board the flight from a jetway door located in the lounge leading directly to the plane.

On a recent trip through Dubai to India, Emirates invited me into its massive lounge at its hub there.  Since the look and feel of its lounges are pretty standard around the world,  what you see in these photos should match up pretty closely with what we’ll soon see at SFO:

Entry point at Emirates flagship business class lounge at Dubai-DXB which can accommodate 1,800 passengers-- and still gets quite crowded at peak times. There's a separate first class lounge I was unable to get into. (Photo: C. McGinnis)


One of four dining areas at the Dubai lounge which can accommodate 1,800 passengers (Photo: C. McGinnis)


Check out this lox and bagel spread (Photo: C. McGinnis)


Loungers for naps (photo: C. McGinnis)



Shrimp (Prawn) sandos (Photo: C. McGinnis)


One of a wide selection of desserts and pastries (Photo: C. McGinnis)


Full bar stocked with premium brands (Photo: C. McGinnis)


Rolex wall clocks at Dubai Int'l-- a standard in all Emirates lounges (Photo: C. McGinnis)


(Chris McGinnis publishes The BAT and The TICKET blogs for frequent travelers.)


Bienvenue! Air France A380 lands at SFO (VIDEO)

Today Air France’s big new A380 touched down at SFO for the first time. I was very excited to get special access to the runways and tarmac to shoot this two-minute video.

Check out how close we were to this leviathan as it gracefully touched down. And watch the special water cannon welcome salute from the SFO fire department.

I did not have the chance to see the interior of this big bird, but you can check out interior photos of all three classes here.

Looking out over the summer, roundtrip coach fares between San Francisco and Paris are running in the $1100 to $1500 range. Business class roundtrip summer sale fares are in the $3000 range- not bad compared to standard business class fares which normally runs closer to the $6K-$8K mark.