12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Austrian Airlines has effectively slashed the cost of flying business class for many passengers flying on its short and medium haul routes.
The carrier is offering confirmed upgrades to customers booking full economy fares.
The rationale is that many companies require staff to travel in economy on such flights. Some firms introduced the restriction during the recent downturn and have maintained it, even though business has picked up. While this makes corporate and commercial sense, it says, it doesn't always meet the needs of the business traveller, such as the flexibility to change reservations and the availability of business class check in and mileage points, lounges and – bearing in mind that Austrian now charges for food in economy class on all flights up to 2hrs 30mins – complimentary meals and drinks.
It is open to question whether a full economy ticket will be cheaper than a negotiated business class fare. But the launch of the deal, which has been branded "Silverticket", certainly makes it probable that the relatively few travellers prepared to fork out full published business class fares will be reduced to an even smaller trickle. A spokeswoman for the airline said the main difference between Silverticket and business class fares was that the period of flexible validity was six months for the former compared with a year for the latter – a distinction which is unlikely to deter many customers.
Austrian gave the following examples of full economy round trip fares from Heathrow, valid on January 25 and including taxes and other charges (business class fares in brackets): Vienna £558 (£714); Budapest £631 (£772); Moscow £855 (£1560); Prague £553 (£619); Tiblisi £1,295 (£2153); Warsaw £ 574 (£761); Zagreb £733 ( £1041); Beirut £939 (£2171).
From March 1 the middle seats will be left empty in business class on the airline's short and medium haul flights (with a duration of 60 minutes plus) and will be deleted from the booking system.