When a British Airways ex-Europe trip goes to plan ….

Last August, I ran a story about British Airways offering Club World tickets to Australia for just £2,050.  The snag was that you had to start and end your journey in Oslo.

Reader David booked one of these tickets.  As readers often tell me that they are nervous about booking such tickets because they are worried about what might happen if things go wrong, I asked David to give me a quick run-down of how it went for him and his wife.

His routing generated a total of 640 tier points each, giving them British Airways Executive Club Silver status, and 40,000 Avios points!

A couple of days after I asked David to write this, reader Mark also got in touch to tell me about an ex-EU flight which went wrong!  I am also running that story today in a separate article.

GETTING TO OSLO AND BACK:

“We booked two single economy flights from Manchester to Oslo, outbound with SAS and inbound with Norwegian. Our luggage could not be booked through with either flight.

At Manchester we had our one and only disappointment of the holiday, we were declined entry to either of the lounges offered via Priority Pass as they were busy.

The SAS flight was mid morning, arriving in OSL early afternoon local time. Immigration was straight forward (Norway is not in the EU) as was luggage collection and customs, with most of the locals still in the duty free shop. It probably took us 40 minutes from leaving the plane to clearing customs.

Once landside, we were an hour early for check in for our British Airways flight so took the time to check out the airport and the hotel we had booked for the return leg.  There is free wifi in the terminal building, a few fast food outlets and a Starbucks, a large coffee was around £2.50.  Alcohol prices were eye watering.

British Airways check in was quick and easy, with luggage checked through to Sydney. We made to the security gates expecting to use the fast track lane, but were told BA did not pay for the privilege and were directed to the general queue.  This not an issue and proceeded though with minimal delay.

Lounge access was via the main Oslo lounge.  It was quiet and there was a reasonable selection of drinks and food available.

We then flew to Heathrow to pick up the flight we could have taken in the first place, had we been willing to pay an extra £1,400 each!

Oslo

OUR RETURN FLIGHT:

We started our return from Alice Springs.  The timing of our return flights gave us 23 hours in Sydney.  We expected that our bags would be checked through but as it was an overnight stop we had to collect our bags. We spent the night at the InterContinental on an ‘Into The Nights’ reward night.

Our return flight was otherwise uneventful apart from the dreaded internal security check at Terminal 5 in Heathrow which lived up to expectations.  We were held for about 15 minutes at the X-ray machine whilst four staff just stood around as the operator ran one bag of another passenger backwards and forwards through the machine discussing the picture with a supervisor.

We landed in OSL around 10.30am.  Again, we had a smooth journey through immigration and then joined the locals in the duty free shop, buying a bottle of wine to drink later in the hotel.  Our luggage was already on the carousel and then we were through customs and on the way to our hotel for the night.

Whilst same day flights were available back to Manchester, we decided to spend the night in Oslo anyway.

There are two hotels within the airport.  We stayed at the Park Inn which was about 300m away via a covered walk way. I had booked the hotel via HotelClub, we checked in prior to noon and I mentioned that I had Club Carlson Gold (via Amex Platinum).  The receptionist said I would not get points but did upgrade us to a corner room which was very comfortable and quiet. Again the price of alcohol was staggering – the cheapest house wine was £40 a bottle, a beer was nearly £10.

We did look at travelling into Oslo for the afternoon – the train runs directly from the airport and the journey is 20-30 minutes and about £17pp each way – but in the end just chilled at the hotel.

The next morning we flew back to Manchester with Norwegian.   Check in and security were smooth. Even though the ticket was under £40 we had an allowance of two checked bags. The flight was on time. Norwegian have free internet on board – there were some issues with it on our flight, but online browsing was possible. Inflight entertainment was available via the wifi on your own devices – it was quite strange watching the flight map on my iPad.

To sum up, we found that travelling ex Oslo was a smooth experience.  The extra flights and hotel cost less than £125 per person compared to a saving of £1400 per person over flying from Heathrow – and that ignores the cost of travelling to London from Manchester.  A little snow is expected in Oslo (we were there in March) and the airport operations are there to cope. We would not hesitate to book via Oslo again.”

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When a British Airways ex-Europe trip goes wrong .....
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Comments

  1. I booked one of these fares for my parents – they has a great time in Oslo for the evening, even got cheap last minute opera tickets! Also excellent stopovers in Singapore on the way out and Hong Kong on the way back. Silver in one return journey as you say, for about 18 months each thanks to their TP collection years. Only drama? Norwegian pilots’ strike the week before they left! Thankfully resolved in time for their EDI-OSL flights, but that could have been a major headache!!

  2. Norway is not in the EU, but that is nothing to do with immigration, as Norway is in Schengen and the UK is not. Norway is however in the EEA, which means that you have the same rights to move there as you do to any EU country (and Cameron hasn’t said anything about leaving the EEA so far).

  3. Stephen says:

    Internal security check?

    Sounds painful

  4. Waribai says:

    Sorry to say but that whole evening flight looked like a disaster waiting to happen. As you say you we’re relying on a timely departure from LCY to make the last flight of the day from DUB.

    • Aeronaut says:

      I think this comment is supposed to be under the “When a British Airways ex-Europe trip goes *wrong* ” post – this post is about a trip that went right!

  5. Shouldn’t lounge access at Manchester been accessible as you were flying BA Business from Oslo?

  6. Those Manchester lounges are very hit and miss as to whether you’ll get in or not with PP. One of the reasons I gave up PP this year as Manchester is my main point of departure in the UK.

    Still, the rest of the trip looks super and a lot of money saved!

  7. Thinking of doing the Qatar biz flights from AMS to BKK, but I won’t be trying to make the connection from MAN in the same day.

    If your flight from the UK is late or canceled and you miss your connection, being on a cheap, non – flexible ticket, you run the risk of a hefty bill to change to a later flight. Same can happen on the return.

    Personally, I’ll be using some of the saving on the airfare for a nice airport hotel. No stressing then!

    • I’m doing AMS-DOH-BKK on Christmas Day Business but flying to AMS Christmas Eve and stopping at the CP close by the airport. The return is on CX from HKG on a redemption. 60000 Avios + £35 at the old rates. Looks like I’m on the A380 on the DOH-BKK leg so that’ll be nice.

    • Jake Go for it. We are doing the CPH HKT CPH via doha now all on dreamliner. .but doing a nice day night either side in CPH a city we both love. With avios to and from lhr. We even cancelled our kul f 241 and now using it in march instead. V g hotel rooms with kaligo booked too…lost count of how many avios we get back with both. Plus our new baec silver then kicks in for the next 2 years. The latter timing totally by chance actually!

  8. That’s exactly what we did last year on a Dublin-LCY-NYC-MCO on the Baby Bus. We actually did two stops one overnight in Dublin an then again in NY for and early departure down to MCO via MIA.

    A couple of months back we did a BCN-LHR-SIN flight on BA Y. We looped in flights to KUL, REP and DPS using both MH redemption and Air Asia. Our flight from DPS to SIN on the return was 1.5 hours late and we arrived with 55 minutes to collect our bags and check on for the flight home. Although we made it it was not a nice experience especially sitting on Bali and thinking new flights OW out of SIN we’re going to cost $500 each and there was 4 of us.

  9. callum says:

    The normal train is actually £7.50 each way. You were looking at their equally pointless equivilent to the Heathrow Express.

    • Lady London says:

      Day ticket from the travel information desk landside works out to about £9. that includes the return regular train journey to the city and unlimited bus and train within the city for the day.

  10. “Our luggage could not be booked through with either flight”

    Was does that mean?

    • callum says:

      That their first airline wouldn’t provide a baggage tag to send the bag automatically to the next airline – they have to collect it then check it in again.

  11. Lionel says:

    Frankly I think you can divide these tales into those told by the reckless/ foolish/ inexperienced and those from the rich.

    Nothing critical/ personal intended @ any posters, of course! :)

    The rich: they are easiest to deal with. They might be personally rich or just flying at company expense, so leaving it tight and missing a connecting flight doesn’t really matter. Leave a slim margin of error to possibly collect luggage and certainly to make the connection if the first flight is delayed? Quite exciting really – and possibly some interesting anecdotal material that the warriors of the air can relate to colleagues later.

    The reckless/ foolish/ inexperienced: often it seems that money really matters quite a lot to these raconteurs, so why would you build in a quite foreseeable likelihood that delays to flight #1 and not enough time to make flight #2 (the luxury long haul bit!) is going to mean you lose the lot by missing it? Airline #2 simply isn’t responsible for your lack of planning. I prefer the attitude that says that yes the traveller will take a cheapo flight #1, overnight and see the city in the middle or at least build in PLENTY of wobble time which can pleasantly be spent in a lounge etc. Or buy travel insurance. Or build in insurance in other ways (eg the cheapo alternative flight as suggested by Polly).

    • I think there is an element of truth in this. When your worst case scenario is that you incur a cost which, to you, is modest in the whole scheme of things then you clearly act differently.

  12. signol says:

    With my help, my sister has booked an ex-Europe trip to the US for the F1 in Austin. On one ticket CPH-HEL-JFK-LHR, on Finnair and BA, and Easyjet LGW-CPH. VS redemptions NYC-AUS and vv. She’s booked a hotel in Copenhagen to help prevent delays.

  13. Richmond says:

    I’m definitely staying for the night in Antwerp before my ex-Antwerp train/flight to Canada. I read about delays to BRU and I don’t want to risk missing my flights. I did ex-Dublin to HNL in March and stayed in Dublin night before. Hotel was 100 euro plus nice dinner locally. Also did ex-Frankfurt flight to HKG and made sure I have a lot of time between flights.

  14. I’ve done a few ex-AMS to Rio, Delhi and Beijing normally with back-to-back c40 minute inbound and outbound connections at AMS. Literally off the plane and straight back on without the need for immigration or security. Even if your flight is delayed on the way out, you can’t have a problem on the way back – because it is the same plane!!!

    Great savings but a bit of a pain on the return journey especially after a long flight; and only ever done this with hand luggage only….

    …except now I have booked LHR-DUB-LHR-YYZ-LGA-EWR-LHR-DUB-LHR for the family holiday (I paid about £250pp more for Club compared to Economy + the Avois to/from DUB). A question though…

    …does anyone know if I can get them to tag my bags at Newark just to LHR so I don’t have to collect and re-check them in DUB (I wasn’t planning to bail but just to save some hassle).

    • I had a big fight in Bangkok once about this. They relented in the end and checked the bags to London only – probably helped by the fact that my onward flight was the next day and I told them I needed the bag for the evening. I certainly got the impression they were not meant to do it. The obvious thing to do is book the last flight from City or Gatwick if possible so you have to get your bag back.

    • LondonFoodie says:

      Jezza – I did a LOT of reading on the topic on FlyerTalk and around, as I was booking tickets to Las Vegas on one of the previous promotions. I ended up going LHR-CPH-LHR-JFK-LAS-JFK-LCY/LHR-CPH.

      The reason for that last airport change was exactly the bag problem.

      From what I can tell, BA have smartened up and generally speaking would not agree to send your bag to a different stop than the one you are supposed to go to (and yes, I managed to beg my way once in Buenos Aires – but it wasn’t easy).

      The solution is to either book the return with an airport change, such that your last leg is out of LGW/LCY (works well for AMS and DUB), OR choose a routing such that you have to spend a night in LHR, in which case you will be “forced” to pick up your bags.

      Otherwise hand-luggage may be your best option for ex-Europe and no-showing the last leg of the trip.

  15. If I have a BA flight landing at 7pm in LHR, then the last leg of the trip leaving at 5pm the next day which I do not want to take, will they check the bags through to London with no problems?

    • LondonFoodie says:

      Ian – If you have an overnight stay you can get your bags at LHR and then “miss your flight” the next day.

      I don’t know whether you can send them through to your final destination even if you wanted to, due to the overnight stay, but I will let the experts comment on that.

    • Yes Ian. Best way is your plan they don’t hold bags overnight so you are home and dry. Don’t try it too often as Rob warns. Best of all is to depart from another airport next day as then you must have bags off in London.

      • Just booked an ex-dub CW £1194 compared to £3100 leaving from Glasgow 27 Dec to 8 Jan

        DUB – LHR – SEA – GEG (first)- PHX – LHR (seat in the bubble)

        GLA – DUB (Ryanair ) AND LHR – GLA (BA) start and end of trip where 4000 Avios plus £100 in baggage fees etc .

        Staying at the Carlton Penthouse Suite at the airport on Boxing Day as it gives us 1 day and 3 other flights to catch before DUB-LHR Deal was 2 course meal wine breakfast served in room in the morning for £90 each.
        Total £1384

        All in all excellent deal compared to Ex GLA …… With a saving of over £3400 it’s a no brainier !

  16. Eleanor says:

    We also did the ex Oslo to Australia thanks to Raffles! Cancelled an already booked 241 trip as it was such a good deal (and retained silver). Perfectly smooth sailing all the way….

    We booked: OSL – LHR – HKG – MEL – AKL (train Auckland to Christchurch) CHC – SYD – SIN – LHR – OSL : all for £4,600 CW for myself and hubby.

    Booked an economy BA LHR to OSL ‘positioning’ flight, allowing ourselves 2.5 hours for the turn around to get back to LHR on the next BA flight of the day. Lo and behold the LHR to OSL landed 30 minutes early, giving us time to clear all formalities, collect our checked bags, visit the BA reservations desk and ask to change our OSL to LHR to the earlier flight (i.e. to the same plane we just arrived on). We got back on the plane and settled into our now Club Europe seats much to the amusement of the cabin crew!

    A nice relaxing visit to the Elemis Spa at T5 and whiled away about 5 hours (would have been 2.5 hours if we’d taken the planned OSL – LHR flight) before the same evening departure to HKG. Having left home at 8am and after a little day trip to OSL, we were on our way to HKG at 9pm same day.

    On the return from SYD, we weren’t much looking forward to having to do the LHR-OSL-LHR bit – rather fancied just hot footing it home on arrival at 5.30am and forgetting about OSL….but that’s the price you pay for a great deal we thought.

    However I decided to try my luck at SYD check-in, and explained we’d had a change of plans and needed to be in London the day of arrival. So asked could she kindly just check our bags to London not Oslo. After being asked if we were sure, and double checking that we wouldn’t change our mind and want to travel on to Oslo after all (no we said), she kindly tagged our bags just to LHR! No hassles at all, couldn’t believe our luck! So we didn’t do the LHR – OSL and back to LHR day trip, which was a bonus.

    So thanks Raffles – another ex Oslo trip that went to plan (in fact, even better than planned!)

    • Very brave of you to risk same day positioning flights. We just wouldn’t dare! We have now got a nice hotel in CPH courtesy of PRG card offer, for one night each side of HKT flights, so looking forward to that. But yes it’s tempting when arriving in CPH after long haul to go straight to LHR, but the odd time QR go tech, we might be stranded and not make the flight home.

  17. Simon Bostic says:

    I have a comment about same day positioning in these situations as we always book our Cape Town flights in BA Y class from either FRA, MAD, AMS and even BCN, for a lot less than if we booked ex-UK – and you get more Avios!

    It always works as long as you do make sure there is time for the connection on the outbound, especially if using an airline which has no agreement with BA. It does help though to book a BA service to position yourselves (often cheaply done on BA website using cash or Avios) to your “start” point before taking your OneWorld service back to LHR and onwards – then if the BA starter flight is late, you have a case for them to change your onward outbound and re-protect you. This happened to us once – it was obvious that the positioning flight to FRA was delayed and on explaining it to the agent, she simply changed the booking so our first flight was now LHR/CPT.

    This year flights in Y to CPT were £900 ex-LHR. We saw MAD/LHR/CPT/LHR/MAD for £490 when on BA.es! So we booked it but used an open jaw to return from BCN so the route became: MAD/LHR/CPT/LHR/BCN with the last sector taking place months later (next weekend actually) so we don’t waste it! We then booked another open jaw LHR/MAD//BCN/LHR to match the dates (£100 on BA.com) so what we got for our money was:
    1) a morning at the Prado in madrid
    2) BA flight to CPT with non-stop CPT/LHR flight on the i/b
    3) a weekend in BCN in June – all for £600!

    So to maximise, use open jaws and don’t book the last sector from LHR when on your way back on the same day – at least leaving a night and missing it the next day or better still, booking the last date to a lovely city in Europe for a nice short break!

    Good ruse – shall look out for more alerts on here.