Making the most of airline 'early bird' business, first class fares

By Chris C., August 2 2016
Making the most of airline 'early bird' business, first class fares

Airlines will soon begin selling their 'early bird' fares for 2017, with significant savings across the board – especially in business class and even first class.

We're talking thousands of dollars off regular year-round pricing, especially for travel during the quieter periods.

You can expect to see early bird offers for 2017 land from late August through to September, and be on sale through to late November.

Here's how to make the most of these once-a-year special fares as soon as the first deals break.

1. Plan in advance

Don’t wait until tickets go on sale to start planning your trip.

You want to be ready to pull the trigger immediately when those hot early bird fares are released, which means mapping out your travel schedule now.

Identify the cities and countries you’d like to visit, and when – there might be peak seasons in those countries which your business trips need to skirt, or there could be conferences and trade expos that are ideal for catching up with existing customers and scoping out new ones.

The number of deeply discounted early bird fares available on each particular flight will be limited – so having a clear idea of your travel needs for 2017 will put you in the box seat for the best deal.

2. Be flexible with dates

Part of that advance planning is to see where there's flexibility in your schedule.

Early bird fares typically apply only during certain periods, so if your trip is on the cusp of one of those, you can land substantial savings by nudging your dates forward or shifting them back.

This may not be practical for events such as a conference, but consider strategies such as arriving earlier and departing sooner, or even extending your stay by a few nights.

If this delivers a much cheaper airfare, the savings could outweigh your extra hotel costs.

3. Cost or comfort? Alliance or airline?

Airlines roll out their early bird fares at different times, which makes it tricky to fully compare the prices.

Another part of your prep work therefore needs to be shortlisting airlines as well as destinations and dates.

Decide in advance if you're willing to jump in and book tickets with the first airline to offer the sharpest fares, or sit it out until your preferred airline (or an airline partnered with your frequent flyer program or alliance) makes its play.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1519

I never had seen huge savings with those early-bird deals. Yes, there are some but most often then not savings are pathetic. All those thousands of saving that they advertise usually related to most expensive tickets that I never buy anyway.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1245

Agreed. Australia is a very captive market so even with these so-called deals the discounts are never as lucrative as, say, those originating CMB or CAI, or even US-EU flights.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 352

LOL, as if business travellers or almost anybody else apart from a few frequent flyer tragics would route their trips via Colombo or Cairo.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 27

Virgin has said it intends to increase prices for 2017 for Business & First Class so 'early bird' prices may be moot point.  

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 441

Chris it would be good to add to this article what prices would be considered 'good' for J and F earlybird fares for key routes like LHR and LAX.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 21

Etihad did an earlybird special last week 5500 Z to London return. I think that counts a both convenient and a true saving.

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