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Most British Airways Executive Club members based in London have it good… So-called “London Airways” offers them a wide variety of destinations. Reward Flight Saver is a brilliant scheme that caps the taxes and surcharges on short-haul flights at £17.50 / £25 each way. Even on long-haul flights, a Londoner might grumble at the surcharges (I certainly do) but probably still treats a long-haul reward in Business or First Class as a decent bargain, especially with a 2-for-1 voucher from American Express.
But, what about everybody living outside of the M25 or the Southeast? Well, first of all, I suspect that you are flying an awful lot on low cost carriers or holiday charters to Continental Europe, instead of wasting your time with connections in London. Or perhaps you have long since switched your allegiance to Qatar, Etihad or Emirates, at least for your long-haul flights heading east and south. But as an Avios collector, it still might be tempting to take the train or a connecting flight down to Heathrow… DON’T. Make Dublin your “home airport”.
There are a number of great reasons to consider making Dublin your “home airport”. First of all, it’s probably easier for many Brits to get there. According to Wikipedia, Aer Lingus flies from: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Leeds/Bradford, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Newquay. Ryanair will get you to Dublin from: Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne. There’s no reason to be afraid of positioning flights; just leave yourself some margin for flight delays, just as you would for taking the train down to London or flying into Stansted / Luton / Gatwick before taking the coach around to Heathrow…
A long-haul flight departing the UK will cost you £73 in Economy and £146 in any other cabin. Heathrow airport is going to charge British Airways (and therefore you!) another £42.
The Irish government and Dublin airport are going to charge you £21.
On a paid ticket you probably don’t notice as more-often-than-not the airline pockets any savings, but if you are booking rewards for two or more people, the savings in tax is going to really add up, and easily pay for the flight to Ireland…
Aer Lingus North American Destinations
Joe wrote last year about Aer Lingus “sweet spots”. I’m not sure I’d call them that, particularly since somebody moved Boston several miles to the west, in order to charge more Avios. But Aer Lingus now serve the following markets in North America:
- New York (JFK)
- Washington DC
- Miami (starting 1 September 2017)
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
Off-peak pricing starts at 13,000 Avios each way, 50,000 Avios in Business Class…
Now, I believe that you have two options. You can book via avios.com. This has the advantage of being bookable online, and you can take advantage of the peak/off-peak calendar published for Aer Lingus. The downside of avios.com is that they will invent surcharges and add them to your reward costs.
Alternatively, you can still book Aer Lingus flights by calling the Executive Club. This might have different reward availability to what is seen on Avios.com, and you might have to pay a telephone booking fee (although this is supposed to be waived for rewards that can’t be booked online). You will also pay peak date pricing year-round, as it will be treated as a partner reward. But, as near as I can tell, you will only be charged the real, actual YQ surcharge that Aer Lingus charges on paid tickets (which appears to be £15 or so for a one-way ex-DUB or £20 for a return ex-DUB)
And, if you’ve ever been stuck in a massive queue upon arrival to the United States, which I suspect might be even worse now that… well… let’s not talk politics… you will take care of U.S. Immigration and Customs pre-departure in Dublin.
Lower Fares / Surcharges on British Airways
Dublin is renowned for being one of the best departure points for a so-called ex-EU Tier Point run. It might not be immediately obvious, but low fares often equals low surcharges. So, you can also find substantial savings by positioning to Dublin for a long haul reward on British Airways in Business or First Class.
It might not be worth the effort in you are already based in London, but Northerners might find it worthwhile to exchange this:
For an extra 4,000 Avios (DUB-LHR in Economy) and a Ryanair flight to Dublin, you can save £190 per person on that First Class reward on British Airways. And I’ve only looked at one-ways here…
And while I’m on the subject, this is the cheapest I can find (posted so that hopefully somebody can enlighten me of somewhere even cheaper than Copenhagen!)…
If getting to London Heathrow is already a pain, and you don’t want to visit one of Iberia’s handful of North American destinations (requiring a detour via Madrid), then make sure to think about making Dublin your “home airport” and make some savings in the process…