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Business class pricing to Asia - Why so high?

Business class pricing to Asia - Why so high?

Old Oct 7, 18, 10:06 am
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Business class pricing to Asia - Why so high?

I need to be in HKG from November 5 - 13 (flying from EWR) and have been watching pricing for United's business class tickets - and it seems really high compared to my past experiences... Unless I am willing to flt through China (would really prefer to avoid PEK and PVG) the ticket is pricing out at $8.5k - $10k in Z class.

That seems really high to me -- anyone have any thoughts on how to get the cost down -- or will it come down as we get closer to the dates?
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:14 am
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United Airline prices to Asia will cause major defections

I have been a business flyer on United (and prior to that on Continental) for more than 20 years. Since last year I noticed that United Business Class prices to fly to Asia destinations are way out of line of all other airlines, and to boot, many of these flights are not even direct flights.
It appears to me that United decided to dump regular business people from their preferred customer list, preferring to focus on fliers who do not pay attention to ticket cost (Government Employees, Corporate flyers where flight hour guideline trumps any other driver for ticket class, Independently rich people, etc.,). I found the trend distressing as I cannot justify paying $11,000 for a flight with connections booked a month in advance where another reputable airline only charges $5,200 on the same Business Class, with the same amenities and direct flight. It is endemic to all destinations in Asia Pacific. I guess I will have to switch alliance to other airlines. On average United Business class is more than twice of other airlines, for no discernible benefits.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:34 am
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Roundtrip ZFX0WUME fares (requiring Mon - Thu departures) are $8145 and look to be the lowest available. There's a $500 peak travel surcharge for Nov 3 - 5 travel, and a $250 surcharge for Nov 6 travel. While there's Z available on Nov 5th, it's subject to the $500 surcharge. There's currently only D available on the Nov 13th return. There's Z available on the 14th, so travel from Nov 5 - Nov 14 is $8645 roundtrip (extra $500 due to surcharge) and Nov 6 - Nov 14 is $8395 roundtrip ($250 surcharge). Unless United happens to have some new fare filings between now and then (unlikely) these are the lowest fares you are going to get on them.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:36 am
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I guess only difference for me is that when I look at other airlines the pricing seems to be almost as high as UA - at least into HK. Cathay / American want about $8,200. Just seems really high to me but I guess maybe it's the new norm, just seems really high for what it is....

Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Roundtrip ZFX0WUME fares (requiring Mon - Thu departures) are $8145 and look to be the lowest available. There's a $500 peak travel surcharge for Nov 3 - 5 travel, and a $250 surcharge for Nov 6 travel. While there's Z available on Nov 5th, it's subject to the $500 surcharge. There's currently only D available on the Nov 13th return. There's Z available on the 14th, so travel from Nov 5 - Nov 14 is $8645 roundtrip (extra $500 due to surcharge) and Nov 6 - Nov 14 is $8395 roundtrip ($250 surcharge). Unless United happens to have some new fare filings between now and then (unlikely) these are the lowest fares you are going to get on them.
Thanks for the detail - I guess if I want to fly on a UA ticket for the PQD's I'm going to have to fly through China on the way back -- it saves thousands - $6,759 RT price with direct on the outbound....

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Oct 7, 18 at 11:31 am Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:42 am
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The issue with United -and this a relatively recent development- is P fare class availability. It seems random and unpredictable (to me).
I need to fly EWR-PEK once a month, but need to get creative nowadays in order to bring costs down and find P fares. This resulted in routings such as BDL-SFO-PEK and BDL-EWR-PEK (!) and ZFV (Amtrak station in Philadelphia)-EWR-PEK.
Spend much more time booking flights these days to find reasonable fares, and hope for equal success in 2019....we will see.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
The issue with United -and this a relatively recent development- is P fare class availability. It seems random and unpredictable (to me).
I need to fly EWR-PEK once a month, but need to get creative nowadays in order to bring costs down and find P fares. This resulted in routings such as BDL-SFO-PEK and BDL-EWR-PEK (!) and ZFV (Amtrak station in Philadelphia)-EWR-PEK.
Spend much more time booking flights these days to find reasonable fares, and hope for equal success in 2019....we will see.
Yes - there is a P fare from PEK on the 13th which saves thousands -- but I spend 6 hours in the airport after flying HX from HK.... Will just keep watching it I guess...
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Old Oct 7, 18, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by Supima View Post
....there is a P fare from PEK on the 13th which saves thousands -- but I spend 6 hours in the airport after flying HX from HK...
Well, there you have it. Sadly the reality with United also in my experience.
I can still get the reasonable fares, but at a great inconvenience.
For my flying there is a definite trade-off now for enduring all the connections but fly in business, versus flying direct in coach.
Non-stop in business might be a thing of the past for me.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:07 am
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"Asia" is a rather broad category. I see UA roundtrip P fares (requiring Mon - Thu travel and typically 28 days advance purchase) for between $4K -$5K roundtrip from EWR to PEK, PVG, SIN, ICN, etc. HKG is different because UA has no P fare filings on it and the cheapest fares are $8K Z fares.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:12 am
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Originally Posted by doodke View Post
I have been a business flyer on United (and prior to that on Continental) for more than 20 years. Since last year I noticed that United Business Class prices to fly to Asia destinations are way out of line of all other airlines, and to boot, many of these flights are not even direct flights.
It appears to me that United decided to dump regular business people from their preferred customer list, preferring to focus on fliers who do not pay attention to ticket cost (Government Employees, Corporate flyers where flight hour guideline trumps any other driver for ticket class, Independently rich people, etc.,). I found the trend distressing as I cannot justify paying $11,000 for a flight with connections booked a month in advance where another reputable airline only charges $5,200 on the same Business Class, with the same amenities and direct flight. It is endemic to all destinations in Asia Pacific. I guess I will have to switch alliance to other airlines. On average United Business class is more than twice of other airlines, for no discernible benefits.
Government employees donít fly business class, unless they upgrade themselves, either with instruments or out-of-pocket.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:14 am
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Originally Posted by narvik View Post
The issue with United -and this a relatively recent development- is P fare class availability. It seems random and unpredictable (to me).
I need to fly EWR-PEK once a month, but need to get creative nowadays in order to bring costs down and find P fares. This resulted in routings such as BDL-SFO-PEK and BDL-EWR-PEK (!) and ZFV (Amtrak station in Philadelphia)-EWR-PEK.
Spend much more time booking flights these days to find reasonable fares, and hope for equal success in 2019....we will see.
In the case of EWR-HKG, there are no P fare filings at all. Even if there is P bucket available, there's no P fare to go with it and the lowest you can get is a Z fare. However, UA does have P fare filings for PHL-HKG route and fares are as low as $4K roundtrip from there (your ZFV trick also works), so OP might want to consider flying from there.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
In the case of EWR-HKG, there are no P fare filings at all. Even if there is P bucket available, there's no P fare to go with it and the lowest you can get is a Z fare. However, UA does have P fare filings for PHL-HKG route and fares are as low as $4K roundtrip from there (your ZFV trick also works), so OP might want to consider flying from there.
Thanks for the tip - I checked out those fares and for my dates it seems takes three flights in each direction to get the P fare (i.e. PHL-IAD-ORD-HKG / HKG-SFO-ORD-PHL) but it is cheaper -- and then I end up back in PHL.... I guess I might have to go to another airline for this trip....
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
In the case of EWR-HKG, there are no P fare filings at all. Even if there is P bucket available, there's no P fare to go with it and the lowest you can get is a Z fare. However, UA does have P fare filings for PHL-HKG route and fares are as low as $4K roundtrip from there (your ZFV trick also works), so OP might want to consider flying from there.
BOS and YYZ may also be options.

This has been discussed quite a bit over the past year or so. UA is charging a premium to fly to certain Asian destinations ex-EWR. The answer to "why" is always the same in these situations: "because they believe people will pay."
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Old Oct 7, 18, 11:53 am
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I read in another thread that someone suggested taking the high speed train between HK and cities in China if one needs to take advantage of fares that originate/terminate in China.

Sometimes there are good fares out of Canada also.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 12:04 pm
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A few months ago, UA offered a good P fare for roundtrips to HKG for November ($3,200) but you could not leave from ORD or EWR. It had to be from small cities near those hubs connecting through them. My wife took advantage of that deal by calling UA to do a GG BUYUP for the ticket she had purchased previously. I was already upgraded both ways so let things as is as I did not need that trip to reach 1K for next year.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by doodke View Post
It appears to me that United decided to dump regular business people from their preferred customer list, preferring to focus on fliers who do not pay attention to ticket cost (Government Employees, Corporate flyers where flight hour guideline trumps any other driver for ticket class, Independently rich people, etc.,).
It would be interesting to know what the O&Ds you are looking at are?

My feeling is that right now there are a large number of corporate travelers that have autonomy in the booking process and can book what they like (even if it is bending the rules to take a more expensive fare when there is a reasonable alternative.)

Sometimes, I find myself needing time so badly on both ends of the trip that I take the flight that works no matter who it's on and what it costs.
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