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Many will know that getting some of the prime BA long haul redemption routes can be really difficult. The standard wisdom is to book the outbound as soon as it becomes available, and then book the return segment when it becomes available. But if you are not careful, that can cost you many hundreds of pounds more than necessary.
Let’s imagine you are looking to book a flight to Los Angeles, out 10th of November 2017, returning on the 24th. BA initially opens up redemption flights 355 days out. So that flight on the 10th of November 2017 will become available to book on the 20th of November 2016. The return flight doesn’t become available to book until the 4th of December.
However if you wait until the 4th of December, you might find that all the redemption seats are already gone for your outbound flight. So on the 20th of Nov 2016, you should book the outbound redemption as a 1-way flight. On the 4th of December, you should ring up the BA call centre, and get the return flight added to your existing booking.
What you shouldn’t do, is book the return as a separate 1-way flight. You might well be tempted to do this, as you can do it online, whereas to add to your booking you have to ring the call centre. However, that convenience will cost you substantially more taxes and fees.
The example below demonstrates the issue. It shows the fees for a business return to LAX out 11th of Oct, back the 18th Oct. These redemption seats are still available, if anyone is interested.
Booking the outbound results in the following taxes and fees:-
Booking the inbound gives you the following:-
However booking them on one ticket gives the following:-
The important figure in each case is the bottom line. Book the flights separately, and you’ll be charged £383.47 and £385.60 in taxes and fees. Book the flights as one ticket, and the taxes and fees are £570.37. That’s virtually a £200 difference.
If you concentrate on the “carrier imposed charge” line, you’ll see that on the complete return ticket it is £329. On the two separate tickets, it is £164.50 on the outbound ticket but jumps to £363.20 on the inbound. How BA justifies that, I don’t know, and is beyond the scope of this article. The important thing to know is that the charge disparity exists.
Call centre fees
It needs to be remembered that getting the call centre to change your ticket will attract some fees. As far as I’m aware, you’ll be charged £35 per ticket, and also a flat £15 service charge. Some people have some joy in getting these fees waived, but I would not depend on it. Even taking the fees into account, it’s still a saving of £160.