I’m asked frequently how to save money on your flights. One of the reasons that flights can be expensive leaving the UK is a tax called APD (Advanced Passenger Duty). It also explains why award (points) tickets can have such high taxes leaving the UK. To be upfront about this – it is not the most environmentally friendly or time-efficient way to travel. You can make your own choice about whether you would try this method.
Saving money on flights: LHR-BWI
For an upcoming flight to see a friend near Washington, DC (best airport is Baltimore, BWI) I came across a perfect example of how ADP works and how you can get around it.
Ideally I will fly basic economy out and premium economy back. This is my usual plan when I fly alone because I earn a total of 110-135 Tier Points, which puts me in line for Silver British Airways status.
When I do my normal searches for LHR-BWI going out in basic economy and returning in premium economy, I see this:
So, not bad considering that it is next week, but not the pricing that I’m looking for at the moment. I’m going over for a good friend’s 40th birthday so this is making it unaffordable.
Avoiding APD by going to Europe
An alternative is to start your journey from another airport in Europe – usually I check Dublin and Oslo first because they are close and I am familiar with the airports. People also frequently use CDG in Paris.
As the flight originates in Dublin, the price is in Euros, but converts to £458 GDP. For the same flights. A savings of £415.17 GDP.
Is your day worth £415?
There is the inconvenience that you have to fly to and from Dublin to get this deal. And if you do not fly the Dublin to London part, you cannot board at Heathrow and take the flight. So you end up flying London to Dublin, then right back to London and on to your final destination. It doesn’t work for everyone and depends on what your time is worth.
For me, as a writer, I can work while on the planes and in the airport. Also, £415 after tax is enough of a savings to make it worth it.
Getting to Dublin
While you can find cheap Ryanair flights to London, I prefer keeping everything British Airways so that if there’s a delay they are more likely to help me out. Also, this means I can use points.
Can’t you get off in London on the way back?
There have long been discussions around whether you can cancel the final leg of your flight after you arrive back in London. The official British Airways policy is that you cannot and it will void the whole journey, however, you can find lots of examples of people on Flyertalk who say that they have sucessfully deplaned in London, picked up their bags, and headed home rather than completing the final part back to Europe.
While flying to and from Europe to avoid APD is not going to work for everyone or on each trip, sometimes it just makes sense when it can save you hundreds of pounds. On Business Class tickets it can save you even more. I’m willing to try it in order to make my trip more affordable and finally make Silver status on British Airways.