Image: Silverjet
Silverjet business-class flights
New British all-premium-class airline Silverjet has its own private terminal at Luton Airport (about 40 miles north of London) that reduces advance check-in time to 30 minutes. Like other new all-premium-class airlines flying between New York and London, Silverjet's fares are far cheaper than the full business-class fares charged by network carriers such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
updated 8/29/2007 5:04:50 PM ET 2007-08-29T21:04:50

British Airways' and Virgin Atlantic Airways' fully flexible roundtrip business-class fare between New York and London is now $10,300 roundtrip, equivalent to $1.47 a mile. Buy in the United Kingdom and the fare tops 4,550 pounds, including taxes and fees.

Despite this all-time high, the International Air Transport Association says that nearly 700,000 travelers bought premium-class tickets to travel between Europe and the U.S. in May.

Thankfully for the more than 4 million economy fliers who cross the Atlantic on average each month this summer, there are an increasing number of ways to travel transatlantic in comfort for very much less.

At $800 roundtrip (361 pounds bought in the UK) — just a nudge above discounted economy fares — Zoom Airlines' premium economy class between JFK and Gatwick has a standard economy-class seat with an extra five inches of legroom, free drinks and priority boarding and baggage delivery.

BA and Virgin offer flexible fares in Premium Economy from Heathrow to JFK or Newark from $2,740 round-trip (1,580 pounds from the UK). You’ll save around 15 percent if you trade in flexibility for date and time changes.  Although both offer wider seats, extra recline and seven inches more legroom than economy class, Virgin is in many ways closer to business class than BA with a seat that offers three inches of extra width and nice touches like welcome-aboard champagne, meals on china, after-dinner liqueurs and dedicated flight attendants.

Better still, a spate of airline start-ups with all-premium-seat planes has trimmed the price of flying business class between London and New York, using secondary airports north of the capital.

Maxjet Airways' fully-flexible round-trip fare between Stansted and JFK is $3,500 (1,770 pounds from the UK), but book ahead and you’ll cut this by almost half and enjoy sleeper seats and in-flight service superior to premium economy.

Silverjet flies to Newark from its own private terminal at Luton, which reduces check-in to a mere 30 minutes. Onboard, it swanks seats that recline to six-feet-three-inch flat beds, women’s only bathrooms and sleep zones with dimmed lights and no announcements. Round-trip flexible fares of $3,800 (1,999 pounds from the UK) include free chauffeur-service transfers while non-refundable fares are $1,955 (999 pounds from the UK).

With just 48 seats on each plane, Eos pampers passengers even more with six-feet-six-inch beds and gourmet meals. Fully flexible fares between Stansted and JFK are higher at $8,300 (3,865 pounds from the UK), but with advance purchase the fare can fall to $3,800 return 1,800 pounds from the UK).

Finally, number one for value and flexibility is Delta’s Global Business Pass. Available to Europe-based businesses and organizations, travelers can fly Delta between the UK or 11 other European countries and any North American city at fixed fares (except taxes and fees) for the next 5 years.

Round-trip business-class fares, for example, from JFK to Gatwick (and Heathrow from April 2008) are $4,100 (2,050 pounds from the UK) when booked two weeks in advance, and $5,440 (2,720 pounds ex-London) otherwise. Tickets at both price levels are flexible, fully refundable and earn mileage credits in Delta’s frequent flyer program. And they’re fixed until 2012!

Note: Approximate fares are quoted including taxes and fees for outbound travel on Sept. 12, returning two days later. Global Business Pass fares are set in US dollars and have been converted to UK pounds sterling at the rate of $2 to 1 pound.

© 2013 Imaginova Corp.


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