Flying From The UK? Save Money By Starting From Another Country!

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

While perhaps counter-intuitive, it is no secret that it can often be cheaper to start a flight from outside the UK.


“Ex-EU” flights are what frequent flyers call a trip that starts in another European country for the purposes of making a flight substantially cheaper. With the obvious exception of the inconvenience, there is no major issues with “Ex-EU” flights, although the advice is to make sure that you complete all the legs and travel on all the sectors booked.

That may seem obvious (or even unavoidable), but it’s a live issue when you’re doing it with BA in particular, and the “ex-EU” flight heads out via London. The temptation to try to jump on from the UK is obvious, but your place on the flight will be cancelled as soon as you “know show” for the ex-EU part of it.

What are the ex-EU options?

The general wisdom has been that an ex-DUB, or a trip starting from Dublin, tends to be the cheapest, but there is a wide variation (not least depending on the airline, or even the promo it is running at any particular point), and it is worth taking a few moments to check and see what the options are.


Putting the theory into practice

As an example, let’s look at a trip that I am in the process of booking – a week in Las Vegas in April 2017. As a starting point, the direct LHR-LAS is my comparison figure, which comes out at £813. I chose these flights as the cheapest direct flights on these days.


Now, try changing the starting country to Germany and choosing Frankfurt


This works out at £752.60.

Dublin, a perennial favourite, is the equivalent of £579.06.


Finally, Copenhagen works out at £508.60.


In all these examples, I have chosen the cheapest option which connects onto the direct LHR-LAS choice in the first place. And in all of them they are cheaper! Yes – it is cheaper to fly more! Assuming that you pay £35 and 9,000 Avios to fly out to your starting point, in this example alone, you could save £270 per person from Copenhagen. All of these flights are in Economy, and the savings increase in Business Class.

Obviously it takes more time to do this, but as part of a holiday or with careful planning, it can form a nice mini-break addition to a longer trip. As well as the options above, it would be worth looking at Brussels, Amsterdam, Oslo and Madrid as possible starting points as they all offer multiple short connections into Heathrow.

Anything else?

Yes. The bargains that can be had from this method are certainly not limited to British Airways, either…

By way of example, I looked for Business Class flights out to Sydney for a random date in July. Direct from London, the cheapest Etihad is £3574 and Qatar is £4257.


On the same date, starting in Copenhagen, you can save £343 on the ticket, but that is nothing compared to the Qatar fare £3130, which is a staggering £1127 cheaper.


However, the stand-out detail for me is Cathay Pacific. Copenhagen – Hong Kong – Sydney which is the cheapest of all the options at £2466. Unbelievably, the price from London is a massive £8698, so it is a no-brainer. It is the option that I would go for anyway as I would also be able to earn tier points and Avios on the fare.

You’ll also find the sale fares ex-EU can be incredibly tempting, with Qatar a major player here. One great value fare currently available with Qatar is the Amsterdam to Bangkok Business Class return at a staggering £1427.


If you fly from London, this comes in at £2545 which, while not a bad price for a long-haul flight in Business Class with a premium airline, is a whole £1118 more:



  1. Andrew Tucker says

    Great advice, but I’d like to know more about planning the ex eu trip. Flying to your ‘departure point’, how many hours should we allow from landing? Is it wiser to stay night (in which case savings diminish somewhat). Am I right in thinking if they’re all one world flights they’ll help you find another flight if you miss the first one?

    • Tom Sumner says

      Andrew – thanks for the positive feedback.

      Very difficult to say in terms of same day connections, as it depends enormously on the airport in question. There are also other variables, like whether you need to collect and re-check luggage for example (something that has stiffed me before on an easyJet flight, despite the fact the connection was an easyJet flight – they’re a “point to point” airline, apparently!) or change terminal.

      As a very general rule of thumb, I’d leave 2 hours between your flight arrival time and your new flight departure time.

      Staying the night in the ex-EU city clearly makes things easier, and as the article alludes to you can turn this to your advantage by having a mini-holiday before your holiday. These ex-EU flights go from some great cities – Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Pisa etc. Embrace the stopover!

      In terms of Oneworld connections, unfortunately this benefit was recently substantially reduced. However, our advice is to slum the short hop into Europe on Ryanair, easyJet etc, so this is unlikely to be an issue, in any event.

  2. Mister Airmiles says

    The other thing to bear in mind is that if you are starting from London and going back to London as the first leg of your exEU, then you can often get back on the same plane. At Copenhagen, as that is the best example given above, you come off the plane and are tipped out into the same area as departures – instead of going right to passport control, turn left and rejoin the boarding queue. This only works if you have no checked luggage! This is called a back to back. The benefit of this over leaving a two hour connection is that the following flight may on time but the inbound that you are on from London delayed, so you miss the connection – if you are on the plane that is late, the return leg will also be late so you cannot miss it!

    • Joe Deeney says

      Good point.

      Personally, If I’m starting ex-EU though I’d rather travel on something different to BA. Their product is barely competitive these days and the prices are rarely the best, even if starting outside the UK. Whether using Miles or cash, the only good reason to fly BA on long hauls most of the time is direct flights (or maybe if you’ve got an Amex 241 to use up)

      As regards stopping overnight in a city the night before your flight, I’d definitely recommend it. As Tom said, it can be a nice little pre-break in itself and makes everything much more relaxing. If you’ve got great travel insurance, lots of Miles in a range of programmes, and are good at thinking on your feet/being persuasive then you can probably risk it, but if you do it regularly then it likely will go wrong at some point so you need to accept that and have a good backup plan ready.

      On a trip last year I had deliberately planned three 16-24 hour layovers on the way in order to see a little bit of a few places on the way, but didn’t really get to see anything except my hotels in the end because of 5+ hour (non-related) delays on each leg. That was probably my worst run of travel luck, but long delays and cancellations can and do happen, so always have a plan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *