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Biz Class Deals
by Rudy Maxa for Marketplace

For the first time in the memory of our Savvy Traveler, Rudy Maxa, the world's airlines are offering prime-time discounts on business class tickets. If you've always wanted to move to the front of the plane, this could be your summer.

It started as a trickle a couple of weeks ago, when Virgin Atlantic announced two passengers traveling together could fly for the price of one in the airline's so - called "Upper Class" cabin. The offer is good on flights between London and Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Newark and Los Angeles-as well as on most flights from New York's JFK airport and San Francisco. Buy your tickets before the last day of August and complete travel by September 20.

Then came a cavalcade of copy cat deals that points up just how much business travel the airlines have lost recently.

The Spanish airline called Spanair, for example, is offering a twofer in business class from Washington's Dulles Airport to its hub in Madrid through the last day of August. Buy your ticket by mid-August using a MasterCard. You can help yourself to a free stopover in Madrid, too, and fly on to other major cities in Spain on Spanair.

AeroMexico last week unveiled a similar twofer in biz class on its flights between New York and Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico. Buy your tickets by August 29th.

And civil unrest has taken a toll at the Israeli airline, El Al. Business-class ticket prices have been slashed in half, to $795 each way on certain flights between New York and Tel Aviv. Right now, that deal is good through September third.

If Asia is your cup of tea, Malaysian Airlines will upgrade you to business if you buy a full-fare coach ticket. Buy a biz ticket, and you're all the way to the front of the plane in first class. For now, this is an open-ended offer.

Here's a good news/bad news deal. The good news is Cathay Pacific will give you two business-class tickets for the price of one on its new, non-stop flight scheduled to begin between New York and Hong Kong on September first. The bad news? A dispute with pilots is causing the postponement of that flight. But the deal is good 'til the end of November, so keep an eye on the news, and maybe you can take advantage of it this fall. If you do, you have to pay for your ticket with an American Express card.

And here's a deal that doesn't cost any money at all. Air France will let you cash in a lot fewer award miles than usual to claim some great trips until August 28. Fly between the US and Paris in business by cashing in 50,000 miles instead of the usual 70 thou. Or go first for 70 instead of 100,000. And two can travel on award tickets for the same amount of miles as one usually can to Africa, the Middle East and Asia from Paris. Want to go from LA to Tahiti? Two business class tickets for the price of one if you buy your tickets two weeks ahead. And there's no expiration date yet on that one.

It's a buyer's market when it comes to premium seats these days, especially if two of you are traveling together.

I'm Rudy Maxa, from the Savvy Traveler, for Marketplace.


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