I’m sure you have been there – attempting to get things cheaper. You decide on a place to visit and then it is time to put together your holiday. This means visiting airline web sites, hotel sites and so on to book and pay for all the elements you need. People used to pay a Travel Agent to do this but since the advent of the Internet, many of us do it ourselves.
Various web sites are usually visited to try to find the best price for your flights and hotel. It can be time consuming or it can be fast, it all depends on what is important to you. This is a story about my recent attempts to get something cheaper.
It looks like my frequent flyer status will drop later this year which will mean no more first class lounges for me. I have a burning desire to visit the new Cathay Pacific lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 and in order to this I need to fly out of that terminal.
Living in Dublin means I need to fly Dublin to London to somewhere else with British Airways so I can access the lounge. No problem apart from the fact that it won’t come cheap.
Meet My Friend, Wikipedia!
Wikipedia is a very valuable source when it comes to airports. Virtually every airport Wikipedia page lists the airlines that fly from the airport, where they fly and what Terminal they use. It’s kept up to date by the hard working minions of the world who like to keep such things accurate.
London Heathrow Airport’s page shows that British Airways fly out of Terminal 3 to a number of destinations. All I needed to do was work out the cheaper option of the bunch.
Working Through Destinations
Obviously the international destinations were out, so I was left with Europe. My options reduced to Barcelona, Bilbao, Budapest, Gibraltar, Helsinki, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Lyon, Marseille, Prague, Vienna, or Warsaw.
Gibraltar is a place I have always wanted to visit and a day there would be perfect. The plan – go in May, fly out Saturday, fly back Sunday and spend one night there. The cost was around €550 or so which is actually huge money for what I wanted to do.
I hesitated for a number of reasons. The cost, the fact the flights to and from Gibraltar were in economy class in a fare class that is not allowed for upgrade and the fact it would be just a couple of hours in the lounge.
A Spanner In The Works
British Airways announced flights from Dublin to Ibiza and the trip worked out cheaper in business class than the Gibraltar trip!
It took me all of 2 hours to ditch Gibraltar and choose to go to Ibiza, which is also a place I have wanted to visit. Job done!
A Brain That Niggles
Despite all this, that Cathay Pacific lounge called to me like some kind of poltergeist. It just wouldn’t get out of my head! I looked at my upcoming travel versus my status expiry date and started looking at March.
Gibraltar flights were more expensive than May, but I started to play around with options. I could get the price down if I booked it as a 3 sector booking (DUB-LHR-GIB) and then use miles for the last sector. There wasn’t a cheaper hotel so that would remain roughly the same.
An Obvious Epiphany
What am I doing this for? To visit the Cathay Pacific lounge. Why do I care about Gibraltar? I actually don’t. Time to go back to that destination list and find the actual cheapest flights possible.
The British Airways web site must have thought I was a bot as I speedily searched through about 10 cities to check flight schedules and prices. I wanted an evening flight to maximise lounge time and cheap!
Lyon immediately popped up as the cheapest option with a late flight time. The good news kept on coming as the flights have an S fare bucket which is able to be upgraded with Avios miles. A quick look at the airport hotel and it is about half the price of the hotel in Gibraltar. Looking good!
£79 each way seemed reasonable but my thoughts turned to the fact that the flight was half as long as the flight to Gibraltar. A relatively small saving overall. Sanity prevailed, I would be able to spend more time in the lounge in London and the Lyon flights can be upgraded.
Hand Baggage Only fares are cheaper still but I wondered if these were eligible for upgrade? A quick search of FlyerTalk gave me my answer as usual. It appeared upgrading these is possible as long as it is a fare bucket that can be upgraded. Plan set!
Every man and his dog appears to be flying from Dublin to London on the day I want to fly. British Airways fares are higher than usual and Aer Lingus fares are not much better.
I settled on the 06:30 Aer Lingus flight coming out at €68.99 but I knew with seat selection it would be €80.00 for one flight. Surely I could get it cheaper than that? I experimented with including it in the Lyon booking (DUB-LHR-LYS) but that wasn’t working out any better like with Gibraltar.
Return flights are no better as Aer Lingus price the same whether it is a one way flight or a return. I looked at British Airways Avios availability and there was one flight available at 14:20. Too late for me!
Brain To The Rescue!
Suddenly it occurred to me that I should look up Dublin to London City. I don’t mind the DLR and Tube trip across London and flying to London City means a BA Cityflyer flight and they still serve complimentary catering in economy class.
My first search threw up €55 for the Hand Baggage Only fare and later on when I went to book, it went down to €50. No complaints from me – even the O class no upgrade class didn’t put me off. What about the home leg from London to Dublin?
Avios Make It Cheaper
Paying for the flight was not going to happen as it was expensive. Aer Lingus were cheaper again but the British Airways lounges in Terminal 5 are much nicer and I wanted to go there. Simple, book with Avios miles.
Afternoon tea is something I love on BA so I usually choose the flight between 14:00 and 16:59. Alas, there was no business class availability with miles, though there was in economy.
Not being able to face the fact that I would smell the scones and not be able to have them meant I went for the lunch time flight in business class instead, so that was sorted.
Kaligo and Rocketmiles are my go to sites for hotel bookings as they are a great way to earn extra Avios. Kaligo usually has a lot more hotels available and this was no exception.
Lyon Airport has an NH hotel right at the terminal and it was available for booking for a one night stay. Another thing to review and another batch of Avios for my pocket to offset the miles I had already spent.
Does this kind of story sound familiar? I am sure a lot of us have been there, trying to meet your own particular set of needs and having to do your best to bend the travel web sites to your will. I certainly prefer being able to just go and book something and be done with it, but sometimes I have to go through the hoops as I did on this occasion.
Interestingly, this is far from a chore for me. I learn things as I go, such as the fact that Hand Baggage Fares are eligible for upgrade on British Airways though not on the web site – I had to telephone to do that. At the end of the day I like booking travel. So what did I save on my quest to get things cheaper?
Versus the original trip, over €150 and I am very happy with that! Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt and Gibraltar by Steve via Wikimedia Commons.
Cathay Pacific Lounge via Cathay Pacific. Brain by Jesse Orrico via Unsplash.