In booking my upcoming trip to Amsterdam, I had an interesting discovery in finding cheaper fares. Business class tickets to Europe can easily go from $4,000 and up, and it's not uncommon to find them in the $6k to $8k range; upwards of $10k if you go last minute. Nuts. I started the orbitz.com search early, and had found some great fares on Iberia. Iberia code-shares with American, so happy happy me. The other code-share for Euro travel is British Airways, which has an amazing business class but the tickets were around $8,500. I think the appropriate response is, "fuck that".
Anyway when it came time to book, the Iberia fare was nowhere to be found on Orbitz. Bugger. So I dug and I dug, and without boring you with the details, here's what I found. I ended up with a sub $3,500 fare on Iberia with a 4-day layover in Madrid, but I had to break the ticket apart. One booking has me going SFO-JFK-MAD-AMS (yes that's a lot of stops but it makes sense in the end), and the return ticket is MAD-JFK-SFO. Wait, how do I get from Amsterdam to Madrid? Well by keeping that segment in, the ticket was north of $8k. But as soon as I pulled it… under $3k. So then a one-way AMS-MAD ticket at $800 later, and the total journey is about $3,500, all business or first class, I get the points on American, and I have a nice little stop-over in Madrid. Take that, B.A.