Taking advantage of the new British Airways Colombo route

I try to mention new British Airways long-haul route launches on Head for Points, but Colombo in Sri Lanka got missed.

From 14th April, BA now flies three times a week to Colombo from Gatwick. This is not really a new route, because it is being tagged on to the flight to the Maldives. The plane will now carry on to Colombo before turning back to Male and then back to Gatwick.

Colombo

Unfortunately, unless British Airways intends to offer separate availability, I would imagine that Avios seats to Colombo will be very rare.  Almost all available seats are likely to be snapped by people travelling to the Maldives.

(Interestingly, a post on Flyertalk suggested that there was better availability Colombo-Male-London than there was Male-London, but I couldn’t prove this when I looked.)

There are a couple of things worth knowing, though:

You can buy tickets on the BA flight from Male to Colombo. Club World is around US$600 return for the 85 minute flight.

You SHOULD be able to use Avios points, at the Reward Flight Saver level of taxes. However, ba.com consistently threw up error messages when I was trying to test this.  The American Airlines site also does not show any BA availability.  This is a bit odd as the plane presumably empties massively in Male.

You can also get from Colombo to London on Avios on Royal Jordanian, changing in Amman (potentially to a BA flight)

I mention this because Colombo is one of the cheaper places in the world to start a flight.  If you can get reward flights to/from Male but not in the other direction, there may be good value cash ticket available via Colombo to get you home.

The next long-haul route to launch is Chengdu in China in September. Forward bookings for this are very poor, I understand, so there is a chance it may be pulled before it is even launched. This would be an embarrassing move for British Airways, though, as part of the push for a third runway at Heathrow is the supposedly hidden demand for more flights to obscure parts of China ….

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Comments

  1. James67 says:

    IMHO LHR to/from CMB makes little sense as an award given the competitive business fares frequently offered by Sri Lanksn. Particularly given thr oppottunity to collect 150% moles on a forthcoming ow member. Have flew them for first time this year and was quite impressed with both product and service.

  2. Dominic says:

    Noting the launch of Chengdu being poorly subscribed – is it likely to be a way of getting a good premium cabin redemption en route to Hong Kong, or do visa issues make it not possible to transit through mainland China?

    • You can do international transit here, but timings could be a problem (maybe a 4 – 8 hour lay over), and as the airport is very basic, you would not want to hang around too long. At the moment they do not do the 72 hour visit visa.
      Do not expect, a luxury lounge, the international departure area is very small and you would not get more than a pot noodle and a coffee or beer.

      • pauldb says:

        They may let you leave the airport though during a <24hr stop – this was certainly possible in Beijing before they went to 72hrs. But you'd probably want confirmation from someone whose done it in Chengdu first.

  3. I am aware that the loads in J and WT+ on the route to Male have been very healthy (but there has been a big down turn in holidays to the Maldives) but also noticed that the economy cabin has not often been anything like full.
    Perhaps B.A. are hoping to fill the Y cabin?
    ~Not for me….. there are easier ways of getting to CMB.

  4. In Chengdu, there is a lot of investment in local industry. I have just spent 5 months working here this year and from what I know from other ex pats working here, the 3 times a week KLM flights to AMS are usually very full. Eithiad (and Qatar shortly, more Avios options next year) from the the middle east fly here and AIr China are about to launch flights to Frankfurt. I was also lucky enough to bump into the local Chinese BA rep here and was informed that, as its only a 3 day week schedule, if you wish to fly back to the UK on a non flying day, then you could be rerouted via HKG with Dragon Air to connect with BA overnight for the same price as a return from Chengdu. Its a hidden gem in China well worth spending time, in and around the area.

  5. Phillip says:

    “Interestingly, a post on Flyertalk suggested that there was better availability Colombo-Male-London than there was Male-London, but I couldn’t prove this when I looked.”

    I have found this to be true too!

  6. BA awards are an issue on continuing flights from third countries, even when BA has rights to transport passengers between them.

    BA GRU-EZE-GRU systematically shows non-availability… even though they sell revenue tickets for this segment and flight leaves far from being full on all cabins.

    I suppose the MLE-CMB route to be following the same pattern.

    • pauldb says:

      Don’t think BA have operated EZE via GRU for at least a couple of years now. Other short hops in the Caribbean do seem to show award availability.

  7. Data point: Was able to book two seats at 4500 avios each for cmb-mle in april 2014. Taxes/fees were US$45 total. Couldn’t do this online; had to call in. Phone fees were waived, agent knew this wasn’t bookable on BA website.