British Airways launches new route to Charleston, South Carolina – bookable now with Avios

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British Airways announced (yet another) new US route last night – Charleston, South Carolina.

It may prove a sound choice.  There are currently no flights, at all, between Europe and Charleston with most passengers flying to Atlanta.

This will change from 4th April when BA’s new service starts.  It is being broken in gradually with just two flights per week.  At present the service is only due to run for the Summer and will end on 24th October when the Winter timetable begins.

Charleston has been voted ‘best small US city’ by readers of Conde Nast Traveller and Travel + Leisure magazine for the past eight years so it must have something going for it.

British Airways launches flights to Charleston

The flight will operate from Heathrow Terminal 5.

It will be flown with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner which means that it will be a three-class service.  (You will only find First Class on the longer – in both length and flight range – 787-9 version.)  By coincidence, Boeing is currently building the Boeing 787-10 in Charleston with twelve of them earmarked for delivery to BA between 2020 and 2023.

The flights will run on Thursdays and Sundays.  Flights will leave Heathrow at 5.20pm, arriving into Charleston at 9.20pm.  The return flight will depart Charleston at 10.50pm, arriving into London at 11.50am the following day.

Charleston takes the number of US destinations served by British Airways to a whopping 29, including the recently announced Pittsburgh service which also launches in April.

Tickets were due to be available from this morning at  The guaranteed two Club World and four World Traveller seats will be available.  Whilst more seats are likely to come up as the months go by, as there are only two flights per week I suggest you move quickly if you want to guarantee an Avios redemption for Summer 2019.

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  1. Nigel the pensioner says:

    Charleston (SC) is beautiful. Very similar to the rebuilt and much improved New Orleans. However the flight slots are rubbish and frankly will probably continue to enter via Houston rather than Atlanta as its way way cheaper with more avios redemptions available.

  2. Jonathan says:

    It’s a lovely part of the States with great history & southern charm. I’m always surprised how little awareness Brits have of this part of the states as much nicer IMHO than Florida. I wouldn’t be rushing to visit in the summer though, hot & humid is an understatement! I can only hope that this doesn’t flop due to being introduced in the wrong season as would love to grab some Avios seats for November/December (unless this has been launched with a view to surviving predominantly off ex US passengers over the Summer).

  3. UK F-35 personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will be pleased. Bit late though, as most of them have recently moved back to the UK!

  4. News also out on the US blogs re this new route – just as well BA have put up the YQ ex-US vs ex-UK given how many Avios they get for sign-up and transfer bonuses there!

    I’m off to Charleston next month although very poor Avios availability to anywhere nearby so having to opt for the reliable JFK route then Delta direct to Charleston. AA schedule for direct flights from JFK is dreadful, about one a week!

    • Press release landed at 6.58pm last night which is weird even by BA standards.

      • Lady London says:

        I think I saw it by accident earlier in the day on one of the US blogs when I was searching for tips on how to make the Iberia booking engine work. So perhaps BA was forced to release it at that odd time as word was getting out.

  5. Can also confirm Charleston is a beautiful place as is Savannah. Almost every building is a historic one. Last Aug/Sept we drove right out up the coast and out on to the Outer Banks – the whole area is beautiful. Well worth a wee road trip. Also very hot even late Aug.

  6. Good news if you travel often to Raleigh NC. A 4 hour drive or hour flight away. Sounds daft as there is a direct flight but if you have seen the prices AA charge for LHR to RDU it will definitely be a big saving.

    • Agree, my OH paid well over 1k for a Y seat on AA. Wasn’t allowed to be in PE. Used our own aa miles to ug him on way home overnight. So yes, a pricey route.

  7. A welcome addition if it continues. Which zone does it fall into for avios purposes?

    • Unfortunately, at 4077 miles, it just falls into the more expensive US band: 75k e/w peak J.

  8. Just out of interest does anyone know why BA are now charging £614 in taxes and fees for a J flight?

    • Because they can?

    • Yes, it’s too much. This was highlighted when I upgraded to F on my last flight, it was a few more Avios and I was expecting the taxes etc. to be higher, they were but only 40p! I now look for J that I can upgrade to F as I feel that’s the best value, it’s not always possible, but for the same money, it’s a no-brainer.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes. APD is the same for Premium Economy, Business and First. So if you’re already booked in one of these classes you should not pay any more “taxes” to upgrade.

        This is why Economy is mostly such bad value for redemptions. Between the greed surcharge er… sorry, ‘taxes’ charged by British Airways as well as having to pay the avios for your award ticket, and the cash price of regularly available cash fares, there’s often no daylight at all on Economy fares especially on routes where there is high volume or competition.

    • I know! I’ve just paid £1289 in taxes for 2 x J redemption to the Caribbean next summer, £100 more than I’ve paid for a trip to NYC in May flying out in F and back in J!

    • PointsChaser says:

      The amount BA charge for a redemption is making me question is it worth playing this points game for anything less than a 2 4 1 first class long haul redemption? For single business class tickets you can normally pick up some good deals in sales.

      • Me too, and if the points game is still active when the OH and I are back to travelling as a couple I will be doing this. With this in mind, an article on routes you can fly to in First would be very interesting!

        • Lady London says:

          A note of caution that we may be about to go into a massive ‘up’ cycle in the price of oil. This may mean that the nice cash fares including for J that we’ve been seeing in very recent years, will rapidly disappear.

          So points/miles/avios may become worth collecting again.

    • Someone has to subsidise the 241 right?

      • Surcharges have been whacked up following the oil price rise.

        • Lady London says:

          You mean some of the “Fuel Surcharge” was actually fuel?

        • Of course they went down significantly when the price of oil went down, right….?

        • They did a bit, to be fair. Not a huge amount …

        • Total BS. How come can you then explain BA charges different taxes and fees between revenue and Avios tickets? (being only the fuel surcharge variable, as all others are fixed). Do Avios tickets have a greater fuel consumption?

    • Lady London says:

      Really? not sure even Lufthansa would have the brass neck to be that outrageous.
      That’s only about £200 sort of the occasional cash offer for business on the shorter East Coast routes. Why give them the avios as well?

      • Yes…pick your routes carefully. However, the cash price on my half term (and Memorial weekend) NYC flights is currently just over £10k so I was happy to hand over 140,000 avios plus just under £1200 “fees”.

        • Lady London says:

          Wow. This is when using points (if you’re early enough to book while the seats are still there) can really pay off. You’re an example to all of us @Anna! 🙂

        • All thanks to HFP!

  9. Clarence says:

    We flew to ATL in F on a 241 in August and had a lovely week in Charleston before going to Florida to visit friends for another week. Charleston is not very big but has loads of great places to eat. The free trolleys are excellent value but we found the history the high point.
    Coming back from ATL the only lounge is the Club at ATL. Should have stayed in the main concourse as the food was terrible, our dog would even have had second thoughts and he isn’t fussy about what he eats.
    A week after coming home Avis sent us a bill for $150 for cleaning what they said was excess dirt in the back of the car, strange as we had nothing in the back. I queried the bill but they wouldn’t reduce it or cancel it so we will go to Charleston again but will probably not use Avis again even though the extra Avios through BA are good.

    • Chuckstar says:

      @clarence … ask for photos from Avis
      sounds odd, had a similar experience.

    • Thanks for this – we are using Avis for the first time next year as part of a BA holiday, I will be sure to take pictures before we give the car back!

    • Jill (Kinkell) says:

      Use Alamo. . Rented with them twice for road trips in the USA. Will do it again for next years visit

    • Lady London says:

      Yes. This is something to be aware of. If you take out excess car hire insurance (Questor, insurance4carhire, bettersafe, etc.) these cover most forms of ‘damage’ a rental car company could try to blame you for. they include cover for things like roof and tyres, and sometimes misfuelling, that even the rental car company’s own daily insurance would not actually cover you for.

      However a very big ‘but’ with all of these is that they do not cover the interior of the car.

      So always be careful to check the interior of the car as well as the outside, when you pick up a rental car. You don’t want to be blamed for a cigarette burn and find not even the excess car hire insurance you took out, would cover you,

      I wish you luck in protesting this fraudulent claim by Avis.

    • the_real_a says:

      Yup take photos yourself on pick up and drop off – even if you make yourself look like an a** is the best protection for these “mistakes”.

      • Lady London says:

        I have been known to sometimes casually mention that I have done this when dropping off the car. Especially at a chaotic Firefly location in MXP T2. the one time I dared to try Firefly.

        I’ve scurried back mostly to Hertz since. But constant caution is the word for any car hire. I’m not sure if car hire companies, or estate agents, should have the prize for most dishonest companies!

    • I don’t think it’s Avis in particular, it’s car rental in general, and moody behaviour more likely linked to branch than company. Responses of I always use X they’re honest, suggest that person hasn’t used X often enough.
      But in general my own view is in the US big players like Hertz, Budget, Avis, National are generally all OK, and I’m yet to have a post rental claim made by them. Had a few scratch disputes on return, or fuel disputes, but always by remaining firm and calm they’ve been resolved properly, i.e. them accepting I’m right 🙂
      I guess mostly my rentals have been in large operations, and cars always seem to be collected and returned to artificially lit multi-storey locations where minor damage is very hard to see. I always wait with the car and get the closing receipt, that immediately gives you a starting point in any dispute as they do a walk around and check the boot etc.

      • Agree, a lot comes down to rental location.

        Recent collection at Rochester – location shut before my (delayed) flight arrived, had to get taxi to hotel and back the following morning. They were immediately apologetic, upgraded me from a standard to a premium (Chrysler) and waived the $120 one-way fees so it ended up just costing my some Hertz points – pretty impressed with the customer service TBH. Did chuckle when I heard her on the phone to her manager about the “President’s Circle member” needing special treatment – shows worth collecting any free status that’s available 😀

  10. clarence says:

    did that but they still wouldn’t budge

  11. 1nfrequent says:

    I second the recommendations for Charleston – Fort Sumpter is a must for those interested in the US Civil War but the city itself is charming, people were friendly and there’s a lot of history there to check out including some very pretty churches.

    • Yes, it’s def on our list, will try to use a 241 in J for that trip…

      • +1 and not a bad drive to Charlotte, NC, which is an AA hub for connections to the rest of the states and the Caribbean/Latin America.

  12. Lady London says:

    Any recommendations for accommodation in Charleston? Everyone’s comments are making me quite interesteg in going there.

  13. I wonder how a twice a week long haul flight works for crew rostering?

    • They will probably LOVE It. 3 and 4 days layover…

      • 🙂

        This must surely be a toe in the water to see how well it works, with a view to either launching a more frequent service or not bring it back.

  14. This is superb news. I’m off to Charleston next week and I’ve had to do LCY – JFK with a layover and then Delta first down to Charleston. I’m surprised they end on 24th October though as it’s still busy with golfers until the end of November.

    • That’s the normal switching point from summer to winter services, though I realise that’s not universally true. I guess they have other plans for aircraft from the beginning of November. Nothing to say of course that it can’t be extended at a later date.

    • LOL doing exactly the same routing myself in a few weeks – overnight Hampton Inn JFK then off DL first thing in the morning.

  15. Linda Chamberlain says:

    Just tried to check ‘whole month’ of May for Avios availability to Charleston, received the following error message
    Sorry, we don’t fly this route.
    Please choose another city, or try searching by country or continent.’
    BA IT gremlins strike again?

  16. Lots of comments elsewhere (, OMAAT, Flight Global journalists) saying that Boeing are the main driver for this route. Not clear if they have directly subsidised it (like GSK do with their RDU-LHR route) so that staff can easily be connected to Boeing in Sheffield. I doubt they have given that it’s a twice weekly at the moment but then again we have little knowledge of how many people Boeing are currently flying in and out.

    I’d imagine there is some sort of subsidiy being offered at a State level and that Boeing have given some assurances around number of seats they would want.

  17. Great timing BA! I have tickets for the 3rd day of the Masters next April, Charleston as a base is better than Atlanta!

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