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Would you be willing to forego comforts such as free chauffeur drive, lounge access and a full serve of frequent flyer points for a cheaper business class airfare?
Emirates is betting that’s an appealing trade-off for many corporate travellers as it rolls out a new ‘business class special’ fare which removes core components of the airline’s business class proposition.
However, these discounted tickets won’t be offered across all Emirates flights or to all destinations.
“Our Business Class ‘Special’ fares will be offered on certain routes based on seasonal trends in travel demand,” a spokesman for Emirates confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.
Australian Business Traveller understands the Business Special fares – which travel agents and savvy frequent flyers will see listed under the H ticketing code – will be offered under a demand-driven ‘dynamic’ model.
This will be based not only on the popularity and past booking history of individual flights but potentially also the purchasing history and likely buying tendencies of travellers who search for fares when logged into Emirates site through their Skywards frequent flyer account.
Some examples of the discounted Business Special fares show a 33% saving when compared to mid-range Business Flex bookings, albeit a less-compelling 15% cut against the standard Business Saver tickets.
Additionally, Business Special fares are available only for a direct purchase – Emirates Skywards Miles can’t be used to snare this low-cost fare.
So what do travellers give up in Emirates’ business class unbundling approach?
No chauffeur drive: this free VIP ride to and from the airport is a long-standing differentiator for Emirates business class, although it has less cut-through with corporate travel buyers who have existing arrangements with hire-car companies.
No lounge access: Business Special fares won’t permit entry to any Emirates lounge (or those of partner airlines such as Qantas).
However, passengers with top-tier Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum frequent flyer status (and partner airline equivalents such as Qantas Gold and Platinum) will still be eligible for lounge access, even if they’ve booked a Business Special fare, in the same way as they’re considered lounge-worthy when flying in Emirates economy class and its forthcoming premium economy cabin due from 2020.
Reduced Skywards miles: Business Special fares will earn the same number of Emirates Skywards Miles and Tier Miles as an Economy Flex ticket.
No upgrades: passengers on a Business Special fare won’t be able to use their Skywards Miles to upgrade to Emirate's first class.
Restricted seating: passengers who book a Business Special ticket will be able to select their seats only after check-in opens.