Bits: BA launches Flight Pass, BA drops fuel surcharges from Brazil

News in brief:

British Airways launches Flight Pass

Old British Midland flyers may remember that BMI let you buy a ‘carnet’ ticket which gave you 10 flights on a particular route for a discount – and occasionally came with free BMI status thrown in.

British Airways is now quietly trialling something similar.  Via this OptionTown link, you can buy route passes for economy travel on flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.  (If the link does not work, try ba.com/flightpass which will redirect.)

There are a huge number of pricing permutations based on how many people would share your pass, how many tickets you want, what expiry date you are willing to accept and how close to the date of travel you want to book.  You can buy a pass for one route or for an entire country.

The most expensive option, ‘Freedom’, lets you book onto any service with an available seat up to four hours prior to departure.

Given the huge number of pricing options, it is impossible to say if this offers decent savings or not.  I am not sure who the target market is for such a product in 2015, when anyone can book a last minute flight with a few clicks via their smartphone.  Note that you can only book return flights with Flight Pass which means that it is less flexible than you may think – you may be able to book your outbound with just four hours notice but you need to lock in the return at the same time (changeable for a fee).

There is one interesting tweak.  The basic Flight Pass books into L class which means you will earn 10 tier points per leg, which is 5 more tier points than you would receive from a standard discount economy flight.  A ‘Freedom’ flight books into B class which earns 20 tier points each way.

If you are interested, the link is here.

British Airways

British Airways drops fuel surcharges out of Brazil

It has been illegal for some time to add fuel surcharges to flights from Brazil.  This did not bother BA, which was happy to put two fingers in its corporate ears and shout ‘nah nah nah, we’re not listening’ whilst taking your money with its remaining eight fingers.

Words appear to have been had.  It is not clear if any fine or back payment has been made.  It is also not clear if you can ask for compensation if you have recently booked or flown a redemption from Brazil.

In any event, you will now find that the taxes on British Airways Avios redemptions from Brazil are just £24 in any class.

It is now substantially cheaper to book Brazil redemptions as 2 x one-way tickets:

A Club World redemption to Sao Paulo from the UK, return, has £517 of tax

A Club World redemption to Sao Paulo booked as two one-ways has (£338 + £24 =) £362

The downside here is that, if you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, you need to book the former rather than the latter.  This means you are paying an enforced extra surcharge of £310 for a couple.

At present, ba.com seems to be causing a pricing error if you try to book as it adds back the fuel surcharge on the payment page.  avios.com is working OK so I recommend booking via an avios.com account.

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Comments

  1. Just tried this for the Dublin option, didn’t realise it’s not actually BA who run this, it links to another website called option town! Anyway couldn’t get past the chose country line, didn’t appear to have a confirm option to chose Dublin. Tried a few times. Could be useful. I used to have the BMI one years ago, very good value at that time, when flights were so much more expensive.

  2. BTW , having breakfast in the fabulous Hamad Biz Al Moujan lounge food fantastic, pretty crowded even at 6am! But still spacious. And the Oryx Rotana. Hotel overnight v comfortable, limo both ways…we had to change our flights home, but now with layover. Worked out well, def would look at this option again.

    • Doing the same thing next week but pondering about whether to take any currency for such a short stop. Did you tip your driver or porter etc?

      • In the UAE service charge tends to added everywhere so no need to tip anyone for anything.

        • Qatar isn’t in UAE but from what I recall a service charge was included on most bills when I was last there. A quick Google says it was illegal in 2011 so I’m not certain. Google also says that employees don’t see much of it so a tip may he appreciated even if there’s a service charge. There’s ATM’s just outside of arrivals if you want to get a little cash but for overnight stays I didn’t bother as I used Uber, carried my own bag (main case was with QR anyway), etc. which only really left the hotel restaurant.

          • Thank you, Rob / Andrew. I may need something for the limo. I’m not sure whether it is free or part of the QR service, as we’re travelling in J and QR are paying for the hotel as part of the ticket.

          • Qatar arsehole of the universe, try not to go there, they support ISIS as well

      • Hi Jovanna, we felt a little bit mean in the limo as we had no QR cash. But I gave them some dollars asa tip.they are lovely drivers, you will be escorted via the Al Maha lounge, given the visa and brought to the limo, it’s an amazing service, and it’s only due to us changing our flights to come home early that we got this service. We were supposed to be on the night flight originally. But we liked it so much, we wouldn’t mind it if we have a long layover in the future. Don’t know how they fund these extras. Amazing value, plus hotel very nice too.

        • Thank you, for your reply Polly, and the advice. Looking forward to our visit. I’ll pick up a few QAR on the way out.

  3. I think I love you Rob!! I am avios rich (high travel job) but disposable cash poor so use my stash to jet around on RFS economy. I can’t justify the additional taxes to fly up front long haul given they are more than a budget airline’s full cost down back.

    I can get a cheap single ticket to Brazil they fly back first class via this new option. Ok BAs product doesn’t sounds the best in the world but it’ll be great for me to try it ☺

    • BA’s First product is maybe not the best in comparison to some others but it is still very good, I’d happily fly everywhere like that 😉

      • I agree. Nick, Martin, DW, BA F is still a fab way to fly. It’s only if there a QR sale in J , that’s where the comparisons lie. We always enjoy our annual 241 in F. But this time, still on route home now via CPH lounge as I write this, we had the lucky chance to get the ex EU qr J to HKT. Only 4pax on our flight from Doha to CPH this morning. And yes it is more light and airy than BA F, but you still feel special in F. So enjoy the trip. We will always try for. F using our 241, it is great value long haul, so usually we will fly to KUL or HKG, as jump off points. We would happily flt in F too anywhere we can find those F flights, which can be hard to find. Therein lies the problem

    • Don’t be put off, BA First is very good. We can get very picky about this stuff on here and obsess over these things, but you get a really comfortable seat that they turn in to a bed; a good TV; good food; a choice of excellent champagne; generally excellent service and lots of space.

      There is better out there, but anybody who doesn’t enjoy a BA First redemption flight has either been incredibly unlucky or is being too picky IMHO. At any given moment there are maybe 20,000 aeroplanes in the air. At a complete guess, maybe 5,000 of them are long-haul. That means that there are maybe 50,000 people flying first class at any given moment and if you are one of those, you are pretty lucky. It’s a nice place to be, even with BA.

  4. Mud Island Mlungu says:

    Excuse the stupid question. If you buy 10 flights does that mean 5 x returns? Is a flight one leg?

    Thanks

  5. I booked 2 x singles to/from Rio last month. Do you think it’s worth enquiring about a rebate? How would you go about it? So frustrating I’ve just missed out!

  6. The link doesn’t work for me, but just typing optiontown into browser does.

  7. I have booked a flight to Brazil using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher for next April, given the changes, can I claim back the tax on the return leg?

    • No. The rules only apply to trips which start in Brazil. On a 241, your trip starts in London.

      You need to be on a one way ticket from Brazil to get the £24 which you cannot do with a 241.

  8. I think it’s for flights to/from LHR and LCY – LGW isn’t mentioned as far as I can see.

  9. Would it not be the case if one booked 355 days out online on a 2 4 1that BA would charge the £338 × 2 and then when you call them to book the return leg a week or two later they could only charge the £24 × 2?

    • My gut feeling is that the answer is no but, given BA IT, you never know! Do let me know if this worked.

      Back in BMI Diamond Club days, you could book a redemption from Dublin, eg Dublin to Heathrow to Bangkok, to avoid APD. You then rang the call centre in India, not the brightest of the bunch, and tell them to drop the first flight. They never asked for the APD ….

  10. Just did a trial for 10 flights to a destination I go to a lot, and it seems to be a lot cheaper with the options I picked.
    May well have to look into this more later when I’m fully awake

  11. “Flight Pass” looks interesting for me. I travel to Geneva at least ten times a year. I advance purchase which isn’t always the best option for me, usually in economy but always on the cheaper flights that allow no changes and only give me the minimum number of TP. A run through the Optiontown site shows that I can get eight return economy flights to Geneva with just four hours advance booking time for £145 each. Unless I’m missing something this seems pretty good value. If I wanted to fly tomorrow on BA, returning in two days the cost would be over £500 in economy!

    • Are you sure it’s £145 return? I believe that the flight prices they show are for a one-way flight, although it’s not entirely clear from the website.

      • Yes, you are correct, it’s for a one-way flight only.

        • James Alexander says:

          Just had emailed and (belt and braces approach) had call with Optiontown – which seems run off-shore from UK – and have been given assurance that prices are for one way segments and you must use 2 each time (i.e. make a round trip purchase).
          WAY too expensive compared to old BMI shuttle from GLA to LHR

    • Thunderbirds says:

      Prices look poor on my selections when you consider that you are locked in for the duration.
      Also T&C state: The FP is only available to Executive Club Members who have been contacted by British Airways Plc in connection with the offer.
      Do we need an invitation..?

    • On a similar note, I was looking at some examples, and if you can book in advance you would still be saving money on most destinations. Especially frequent destinations like Oslo, where the lowest Flight Pass was 79 per flight and you could get 63 with luggage or 43 hand baggage only directly from BA on most days.

  12. neuromancer says:

    Well, if your account is in Brazil nothing has changed. There is still the message that you cannot book online any flights originating from Brazil. I wonder if I call will they still try to include the fuel surcharge as before (adding the off-line fee of course).
    Luckily their IT skills are not very good, so with a few clicks around you still can buy a ticket online without having to bargain on the phone.

  13. Nothing looks to have changed over on the BA site. When booking one way from GRU the taxes show as £24 when you proceed to payment the cost jumps to £195 just like before (well a little less). Has anyone managed to get the BA £24 Brazil to UK taxes honoured.

    • neuromancer says:

      You can use avios.com, they charge the correct taxes if things have not changed. If you can’t (avios distributed in various accounts in a HHA for example), there is still a way to do it from ba.com, if you change your country to Brazil and try to find a way around… I don’t want to share it publicly to avoid it being fixed.

  14. Boddingtons says:

    Worth noting that if you able to plan your trips in advance, starting an Aviios ticket from Brazil and having a stopover in London with an onwards sector elsewhere should result in nil YQ on that sector also.

    Eg GRU-LHR/stopover/LHR-SIN

    Could possibly be worth booking and paying the change fee, assuming it’s a route with frequent availability

  15. Thanks for the update Raffles. I’ve got reward flights booked with BA from GIG in March and have just spent half an hour on the Gold Card line and they have said if I want a refund of these I need to pursue via a legal channel as they haven’t made a public announcement.

  16. James Alexander says:

    Optiontown BA Passes – very expensive as the prices quoted were for single tickets. Eg Glasgow to London at a 7 day notice and buying 10 over 12 months, the cost of each single segment (i.e. a one way ticket) was £135, WAY to high to merit the cost of this upfrontery !