I recently went to Lisbon… for breakfast and lunch. It may sound a bit indulgent, but I did it for a reason: on my specific travel days, it saved me just under £8000 (for 2 tickets) for a return business class ticket to the USA with a mix of British Airways and other Oneworld carriers.
I posted a story on my Instagram and a photo (see below) and I was overwhelmed with the comments – I assumed a lot more people knew about this trick that really helps you save money on business class flights by departing from other EU airports.
The concept is simple and I will use my recent trip as an example:
On the dates I selected, a business class flight from London to Miami was either £5588 with American Airlines or £7631 with British Airways. I wanted to go to Miami for a pre IVF hurrah as I enjoyed my recent return to the area a lot, but £7000 was a bit much.
Using Google Flights, I then started playing around with departure cities – for the USA, Dublin is always a good bet, and so it Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam. Lisbon never is… but I decided to type in the magic 3 letters and my price came down to £1501.
I tried to replicate it again, but the lowest fare I could get was £2170 – but it is still a significant saving.
The option above would have been a good one, but it would require a bit more logistical work. If you had to depart Lisbon at 7am, obviously you would need to be there the night before (which is always a good idea) but you need to factor in a hotel night as well.
I chose a 6.30pm departure from Lisbon as my initial flight, which then would lead to an overnight stay in London (at home) and no bags on the day trip – as they would give you your bags when on an overnight connection.
And Lisbon being Lisbon (in my life), I thought it was a very good place to stopover. So I bought a business class return flight to Lisbon which got me to the city at 10am on the day of my 6.45pm departure to London (the beginning of my long haul ticket) and I am doing the same on the way back, giving me another great meal and time with my family. That ticket was £300 and it runs independently from the long haul ticket.
Things to consider when booking an EU-departure
- You need to buy 2 separate tickets and you need to allow time for delays. If your first flight (say London to Lisbon) is delayed and you miss the beginning of the new ticket, you will very likely lose your ticket. I choose routes where BA has other flights during the day in case something bad happens.
- You need to consider luggage – if you are hand luggage there are no real issues. With luggage, you need to consider what you will do with your bags in the time when you arrive from the first flight and the first longhaul flight (and same on the last one). Check if the terminal has left luggage or if there is another way. Oneworld changed the rules where it only checks your bags for each ticket (before, you could add on another Oneworld booking and this was even easier).
- Is the time and hassle worth the money? In this case, it was as the saving kind of paid for the whole trip and some shoes. But sometimes it isn’t. My overnight at home was clever in the way that I only took my luggage on my outbound flight to Miami, so it really was a breeze.
Can I save money on European Flights?
Yes, by buying allocations of other airlines. Recently we went to Valencia and our flight was £600 with British Airways (direct, obviously). I went on Google Flights, and the exact same tickets with Iberia (on the same flights as before, operated by British Airways) were £208… each. So we booked with Iberia. The downside is that if something goes wrong, you get really punished as you can only speak to Iberia for anything that happens – and it can be painful in many ways (Iberia’s customer service isn’t stellar).
On this long haul trip, we booked with American Airways, and actually one of our longhaul flights was with BA and the other with AA.
In order to explore this better, you need to visit Google Flights and basically just play around – you can get even bigger savings by not restricting your results to Oneworld (like I do).
Hope you enjoy this article on how to save money on business class flights by departing from other EU airports!