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I love a bit of a bargain, especially when it comes to flying business class for premium economy prices. Flying from London to the US in Business Class is almost always expensive – it’s a popular route and has high taxes. A popular travel hack is to start your journey in Dublin to avoid the high costs. Which is exactly what I did.
Flying from London to LA with oneworld airlines (BA, AA, etc) was going to be £2900 return. However, flying Dublin to LA via London, on the exact same flight(!), came to £1300 – less than half price. There are other additional costs to factor in though, so let’s break it down.
I wanted to fly oneworld to get the British Airways Executive Club Tier Points I needed to push my status up from Silver to Gold, and there were a few choices of flights with BA or AA between LHR and LAX.
I decided to fly with AA from Terminal 3 (although these flights have now moved to T5), partly because the early afternoon flight time gave me enough time in the morning to fly from DUB to LHR and partly because I was keen to try AA’s new business class seat instead of the old Club World BA seat.
So I would be flying in the morning from Dublin to LHR with Air Lingus on a BA codeshare, then LHR to LAX with American and then returning LAX to LHR with American and then LHR to Dublin.
A few things to remember…
To get this cheap fare your itinerary MUST start in Dublin – you can’t just get on the flight in London. If you miss that first leg, your whole ticket is cancelled.
Because you must start and end in Dublin, your bags will also normally start and end in Dublin. If you’re going to only travel with hand luggage this isn’t a worry – when you land in London on your return you can simply walk out the airport and not get on the final leg of the flight. Officially you shouldn’t skip the last leg of your flight, but people have to cancel flights or miss them for many different reasons. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, it shouldn’t be a problem.
If you have bags, they are supposed to be checked all the way through to Dublin on the return leg, but there are ways round this.
If you want to avoid the last flight from London to Dublin, then you have two options. You have to leave London within 24 hours of landing to avoid super high taxes – one way you could do this and get your baggage in London is to book the London to Dublin route for the next morning. Say you land at 11am into London, as long as you leave London by 11am the next morning you’re all good. You put an overnight in London and then you can ask for your bags to be checked to London because you need them overnight. The airline doesn’t have to do this, they could say no, but it’s normally not a problem.
The guaranteed way to get your bag is to book your London to Dublin flight from London City or London Gatwick. The fare difference is negligible (in my case it didn’t change at all) and because you need to travel across London for this connection, then BA has to check your bags to LHR for you to collect. Then you can do exactly what I did, collect those bags, leave the airport, go home and just miss the flight back to Dublin.
So my new route is now, DUB to LHR, LHR to LAX, LAX to LHR and LGW to DUB. Meaning I can skip that final leg and be home with my bags, having saved thousands of pounds.
The next thing to think about is making sure you don’t miss the first Dublin to London flight. For safety, most people choose to take a flight the night before and stay in a local hotel overnight, but of course this adds to the cost.
Another option is to take the first flight of the day from London, then get straight on a plane back, which is risky. If those flights to Dublin are delayed and you miss your flight back, then the whole ticket will be cancelled. That said if for any reason the flight from Dublin to London to connect to your transatlantic flight is delayed then it is the airline’s job to get you on your next flight.
The final option, if you’re not taking any bags, is to do a quick turn around in Dublin. Meaning you take the flight back to London on the same aircraft you flew in on. That way, if your flight to Dublin is delayed, the flight back to London will be too. You check in online and then on arrival in Dublin hope that the lines at passport control are short and as quickly as possible exit and reenter the airport to get back onto the same plane. It’s a risky strategy.
So, it’s a case of working out which risk is best for you. Originally I had booked myself on the first flight of the day leaving London at 6am, giving myself two and a half hours in Dublin till my next flight back to London. However, the day before, I got cold feet. Even though it should have been enough time, I still had to go through passport control, collect my bags and re-check in for my next flight and if anything happened, there was a chance it could all go wrong.
I therefore decided to change my flight to the night before. BA will let you make same day changes to your flight for free but I wanted to move my flight to the night before, which resulted in a £35 change fee, but luckily no flight change fee. I found the Hilton at Dublin Airport had a room for £69, which included a shuttle bus from the airport but not breakfast, which was fine – as with BA Silver I could have breakfast in the airport lounge.
In total I paid £1300 for the DUB to LAX return, £94 for the LHR to DUB flight, plus a £35 change fee and £69 for a room at the hotel. Meaning a total of £1498 for a flight that was £2900. A saving of £1402. Not bad.
In the next post I’ll tell you all about whether my plans actually worked in practice…