One of the most common questions I get asked is how I can afford to travel so much. And to a lesser extent, why I nearly always fly British Airways. Well, I’ll do my best to explain here and hopefully share a few tips along the way.
Back in the summer of 2014, British Airways widely publicised their weekend day return fares on their homepage. For around £80, you could take the first flight of the day to Milan, spend the day admiring the Duomo, and then head back to London on the final flight of the day. There were more than a few destinations available, in some cases right up to a few hours before departure. Once the summer holidays were over however, the fares disappeared from the front page of the website, and that was that. Or was it? Sure, they might have stopped advertising these day return fares, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still available, some five years later. I have taken advantage of these fares many times over the years and in this guide I will try my best to show you how it’s done.
The first tip is to be flexible. More so with destinations but in a lot of cases being flexible with dates can also help things along here. Many of the other blogs out there will swear by using Google Flights, ITA Matrix, Kayak or other websites that search out the cheapest fares. Whilst in general that does work, in this case it will do you no good at all. What we’re looking for here is British Airways’ lowest G or O class fares, and the airline doesn’t release them to the search engines. I will explain how this works using the desktop version of the site, but the theory also works in the app.
So the first step is to log on to ba.com.
If you have a British Airways Executive Club account, feel free to log in. There’s no hacking or any other witchcraft involved with this, so no need to hide! After this, head to the menu at the top, hover over “Discover” on the left…
… And then on the right hand side where it says “Offers and Deals”, hit the “Find Our Cheapest Flights”
This will bring up a matrix of all of the airlines’ destinations. At the top, select your duration as “A Day Trip”. Hit the “Find Lowest Price” button.
You’ll notice the flights to North America have all shot up to an astronomical amount, but we’re not interested in flying there for the day. Instead, select the Europe section.
These prices are far more reasonable!
Our work isn’t done yet though. We still have to search for the cheapest G or O class fares. This is where the flexibility comes in. Click through each of the destinations, and it will list the lowest fares. It’s worth noting these are one way fares, so we will have to dig deeper still to get a return ticket for around £80. Lets take a look at Dublin. So the flights were looking for aren’t the absolute cheapest available, but they’re not too far off.
Hit on July where it says “Find”. This will give a closer look at what’s available for the month. Sure enough, Sunday 14th July is WAY cheaper than every other day.
Select it, and hit continue.
And it looks like we’ve hit a “Ghost fare”.
This is a common issue with the British Airways website when looking for these cheap fares. I suspect the computer is displaying the cheapest two flights, but its not physically possible to take them – as in the cheapest flight from Dublin will depart before the flight from London arrives. We will continue our search, by repeating the first step here and remembering Dublin doesn’t work. If we take a look at Edinburgh on the 10th July, it’s a similar story to Dublin initially – not the absolute cheapest fares are available, but they’re close enough.
Clicking through gives a different result this time however. The 07:20 flight from Gatwick does indeed still have £35 fares available, so click through and select that one.
Next up we have to choose a return. This is where things can also fall apart. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found a flight for £35 going out, only to find it’ll cost £400 to come back again! This time were in luck however and the 20:35 return from Edinburgh to Gatwick comes in at £49, meaning the total cost for a return flight comes in at £83.34.
Don’t fancy Edinburgh? During this search I was able to find a day in Jersey for a few pence over £80. Madrid was just shy of £90, lunch in Marseille was less than £80 or a day in Monte Carlo with enough time to stop for dinner in Nice was a little over £85.
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! Closer to departure, if there’s still a few seats left on the plane then BA will release a few more low fare class tickets in order to fill them. It’s better for the airline to get something rather than have the plane have empty seats. In the case of a few years back, I actually booked one of these fares the very same day in order to catch a HiFly A340 back from Nice that BA had leased in, despite in the week preceding the fares were seemingly getting higher and higher.
You might be thinking that it’s madness to go somewhere for just the day, however it all comes down to good planning and thinking about things a little differently. Say if you took the last flight out on a Friday evening. You’d arrive at your hotel, maybe have a drink and then go to bed. On Saturday, you’d wake up, go for breakfast and possibly be out and about at 11am. If you’re anything like me, the chances are you’ll be back at your hotel by 9pm at the latest. Then you’d be up for breakfast on the Sunday before heading to the airport to catch the lunchtime flight home. So realistically, your exploring time is 11am-9pm on the Saturday. With these day trip fares, you’re not far off having similar hours at your destination if you can get lucky with flight times.
For those who are members of the BA Executive Club, you’ll still get all the benefits. If you’re Silver status and above, you will still get lounge access and free seat selection, plus the usual Avios and Tier Points. Occasionally there are offers to upgrade to Club Europe, which will bag you an additional 35 Tier Points. Something that doesn’t happen on other carriers – even BA’s Spanish cousins Iberia.
Where will you be heading?