Why I’m Not Even Remotely Tempted by BA’s Sub-£1,000 Club World Fares

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The airline industry is in rough shape, which is why some amazing fares are available, even in Business Class. In happier times, I would be booking my next trip departing from Luxembourg and almost certainly crediting the flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. But now… I’m not even remotely tempted.  Here’s why…

Positioning is far more difficult than normal

As many readers will know, the best airfares usually require departing from somewhere other than London. If you are heading east or south, you might be flying on Qatar Airways, whose best fares can often be found departing Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, etc.  If you are heading west, however, you might actually end up flying on British Airways via London – although the starting point is far more variable. In both cases, UK-based readers would be looking to “position” to your ticket’s departure airport using a ticket purchased separately.

The only “guaranteed” way to position safely is to fly into an airport on the same aircraft that you would subsequently depart on (back to London). If the inbound aircraft is late, then the outbound flight – on the same plane of course – will also be late. However this requires that you fly without checked baggage and have heavily researched whether a “back-to-back” is truly feasible. Planes don’t stay long on the ground… you often have less than an hour between arrival and departure, with all of the requisite deadlines for check-in, baggage drop off, boarding, etc cutting into that time.

In the absence of this option – for example if you live outside of London – then you need to build in a large margin for error. All goes well…  you end up wasting several hours at Luxembourg airport. Something goes badly wrong… and you make it to Luxembourg just in time to see the BA flight depart without you. BA might be sympathetic and re-book you on their next flight, or they might treat you as a complete no-show.

Thanks to COVID-19, flight schedules are constantly changing. Cancellations can happen at the last minute with no EC261 compensation to be had, especially when countries are removed from the “travel corridor” list. A low cost carrier might suddenly decide that your 7 am flight will now depart at noon, but will refuse to refund your money. There’s simply no way to trust that your positioning flights will get you to Luxembourg as promised.

In short… do I want to fly to Luxembourg a day or two in advance, pay for accommodation, and waste some of my holiday time in the process, just to feel safe about positioning for that £1,000 fare?  Not right now!!!

Will it even be possible to travel in summer 2021?

I know that many people try to have a positive outlook towards the pandemic. Surely it will end, right? Or at least countries will value tourist income enough to risk reopening their country?

But I have no problems recalling the situation back in March/April. Instead of cherry blossom season in Japan, how about re-booking that trip to experience Kyoto’s autumn foliage? Australia for Christmas? But of course it will be possible…  Lots of people jumped on that Qatar Airways deal…

How has that worked out? Not well…

One assumes that it will be possible for European passport holders to visit North America next year. But that requires progress on beating the coronavirus and a change in government policies on both sides of the Atlantic…

Beware the Vouchers…

Most airlines, including British Airways, are offering a flexible booking policy. Book now, and if you change your mind later you can cancel in exchange for a voucher. This sounds like a no-lose situation right? Either you get to travel, or you will be able to use that money for another trip. For the regular traveller, a voucher might indeed be as good as cash.

Except there will be an inflection point. I don’t know when, but it is coming…  At some point, airfares will rise again. Not because of a booming economy, but because nearly everybody will be using vouchers to pay for their flights. Imagine a similar £700-1,000 fare sale in spring 2021. For every customer paying with cash, there might be several customers who want to use up the vouchers accumulated during 2020. Why would BA offer super-low fares to captive customers with Monopoly money to spend? Unless the Ponzi scheme continues to work – sufficient new money coming in to pay for the cost of running an airline full of non-cash revenue passengers – voucher holders are the most obvious losers…

Therein lies the problem with vouchers. You are ONLY giving BA £1,000 because it is a great deal if BA fly you from Luxembourg to San Francisco in Club World. But BA’s “Book with Confidence” does not you entitle you to an open ticket between Luxembourg and San Francisco, it assures you that you can use £1,000 on different BA flights at your leisure. In 2021 or 2022, that £1,000 might only get you a Premium Economy flight to Dubai. You probably wouldn’t be rushing out today to give BA £1,000 for a Premium Economy flight…

The Bottom Line

Do I want to travel to the United States in 2021? Probably not…

Will I be able to travel to North America in 2021? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t count on it…

Do I want to risk positioning to Luxembourg? NO!

Do I want to give BA an interest-free loan of £1,000? LOL

Which is why there’s no way I’m booking a Club World flight, even when it looks ridiculously cheap.

Others are more optimistic to be sure…  What do you think? Is now the time to be booking cheap Business Class travel, or should we wait for more clarity? Let us know in the comments section…


  1. cinereus says

    Spot on. The hassle of positioning is rarely worth it. Even without that, the other hassles nowadays make things nowhere near worth it.

    • Joe Deeney says

      It obviously depends on personal circumstances like how much annual holiday you have etc, but in normal times, repositioning can be a great idea. You can literally save £1,000s (and at the same time see another city and have a lovely little ‘pre-holiday’ for a night or 2 before the main event, if you want.

      My schedule is usually pretty flexible, so even if I’m using miles for the long haul (so it doesn’t end up saving me any money really overall), I’m often happy to reposition and spend the APD etc saved on a nice hotel and a good dinner in a new city, or visit a friend, etc.

      • cinereus says

        Don’t get me wrong, I positioned for years in search of the lowest possible fares!

        But when you’re only saving a few hundred and losing hours as well as the stress of additional connections and accommodation costs, it blows my mind people do it just for a few hours on a mediocre J product.

        I still do it when I can make a minibreak and visit a friend in MAD for example but nowadays I’d rather pay £300 for a direct economy flight from Gatwick to OAK over all the hassle and time of positioning just for a £1000 ex-EU flight to the Bay Area. Life is too short.

        • Joe Deeney says

          Ah I see – yeah, great point re convenience/value of a direct Economy flight vs ex-eu biz. I regularly (well pre-covid anyway) would fly Norwegian or whatever was cheapest to US East Coast. For West Coast, I’d prob try to fly Biz/First, and/or stopover somewhere along the way – but that’s because I usually have the flexibility and the desire to really enjoy 23 hour stopovers in new cities. If I just needed to get somewhere by a certain time, I would have no issue heading straight there cheaply and efficiently in Economy of course.

          • cinereus says

            Indeed. Always surprises me the number of DYKWIAs who can do a fortnight-long mattress run or are happy to waste two days of tedious positioning and transiting through Qatar but are too precious to sit in a Y seat and watch movies/take Valium for a few hours.

  2. Joe Deeney says

    Great article! The more so, because I don’t actually agree (fully anyway), but it has given plenty to think about.

  3. geoff says

    At the present time they is no chance of travel ,when the virus is still happening.when it is good i,am sure travel will be on the agenda for me and everyone else who love travel.I,am just waiting for the right time myself

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