Look! Up in the Sky!
It's Airline Discounts!
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2022 -- No one is more surprised than your humble scribe that today's column is dedicated to airline deals.

I thought the idea of a discount on a flight was a dead issue as travelers--mostly leisure flyers--rushed back to the skies after the pandemic. This week, traditionally one of the busiest of any year, volume could actually match or exceed the pre-pandemic Thanksgiving flying numbers of 2019.

But enough foreplay. While the deals below might not be as geographically complete or as dramatic as in years past, they do offer substantive discounts off the prices we've been paying lately. And since this is the season for giving thanks, let's at least give thanks for that.

Fares to Europe--especially in business class--have exploded since the pandemic waned. People just seem desperate to get across the pond again. Which is understandable, but troublesome since there aren't many alternate carriers willing to act as a counterbalance to high fares. One that is out there is LaCompagnie, the French all-business class carrier. Its schedule is limited--it only flies year-round to Paris/Orly or Milan/Malpensa from Newark--but service is top-notch. So is its so-called Blue Friday offer: Just $2,000 roundtrip to Paris or Milan. There seems to be plenty of availability from December through August, but there is a catch: Tickets must be purchased by the end of day Tuesday, November 22. Click here for the Paris offer and available dates. If you're looking to book to Milan, click here. The $2,000 "promo" fare is nonrefundable, but you can alter your travel dates without a rebooking penalty.

Finnair traditionally built its reputation offering reliable connections to Russia over its compact and efficient hub at Helsinki's Vantaa airport. In recent years, it also positioned Vantaa as a fast East-West connection to destinations in the Far East. Neither strategy works now: Russia's invasion of Ukraine wiped out Russian traffic and Western sanctions essentially bar Russian overflights, adding hours to flights from Helsinki to places such as Japan and China. One of Finnair's stopgap solutions: focus on connections to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, always been a tough get for U.S. travelers. The carrier is offering business class flights as low as $3,040 roundtrip to Oslo, with similar fares to Riga, Latvia ($3,190); Vilnius, Lithuania ($3,158); Warsaw ($3,198); and Budapest ($3,120). Quoted fares are from New York/Kennedy, but Finnair also serves several other U.S. gateways, most with new Airbus A350s and a newly designed business class. Details are here.

"Secret flights" have seen better days. Which is too bad since flights between two international cities operated by an airline of a third nation always have a salutary effect on airfares. To wit: the $798 fare for roundtrip nonstop coach seats between Los Angeles and Paris offered by Air Tahiti Nui. The price is good until April 12 when you book by December 15. Air Tahiti Nui's San Francisco-Paris runs--SkyWest or American provide connections to LAX--are available for as little as $200 more roundtrip. How good is the airline's coach cabin? Well, not terrible for coach--if you can handle 11 hours in the back of the bus. Details are here.

The horror that is Hong Kong 2022--still smothered by Covid restrictions and the virtual Communist takeover of the once free-wheeling city--has been brutal for Cathay Pacific Airways. It hopes to bounce back in 2023, which may be a celebration of hope over reality. Either way, though, the airline is offering up some great deals to Asia in business class. Manila is as low as $3,166 roundtrip. It's just a few dollars more to Phnom Penh ($3,187) or Kuala Lumpur ($3,204). There also are good deals into Vietnam, Japan, Taipei and Singapore. All flights require a connection over Hong Kong, of course. The fares are valid from San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are similarly good offers from Boston and New York/JFK, too. The sale lasts until Monday, November 28. Departures are permitted from January 1 until May 23 with returns until October 28. Complete details are here. Ironically, Cathay's nonstops into Hong Kong itself aren't a great deal, with prices well above $5,200 roundtrip.

Breeze Airways, David Neeleman's latest start-up, claims to be a "nice" airline. It even names its cabins Nice (coach), Nicer (premium economy) and Nicest (first class). But the game it is playing with its $32 one-way sale is hardly nice. The type on the restrictions is literally so small that it is unreadable. With some effort, I've managed to decipher the rules. The sale is actually $32 to $59 each way in the coach cabin. Travel is permitted November 30 to December 13 and January 4 to January 31. Tickets must be purchased by tomorrow (November 21). Breeze is now flying to about two dozen cities including four destinations in California, seven in Florida and a clutch of secondary and tertiary cities.

Qatar Airways says it is knocking as much as $350 off business class fares if you book by November 26 and travel between December 26 and October 31. The details are here. ... Condor Airlines, which already offers lower-than-average fares to Frankfurt from four North American gateways (JFK, LAX, Toronto and Seattle), is knocking another $20 off its prices if you book between November 21 and 28. Travel is permitted between December 1 and April 30. Use coupon code swus1condor020do when you book at the Condor site. The airline offers coach, premium economy and business class and flies to 100 destinations beyond Frankfurt. ... Avelo Airlines, the start-up carrier with hubs at Burbank, Orlando, New Haven and Fort Lauderdale, says it is offering 50% off "select flights" between November 29 and December 17. You must use the promo code TURKEY50 at the Avelo site. The deal is valid for bookings through Monday (November 21).