It’s been 18 months since we looked at British Airways Flight Pass. I thought it was worth checking it out again for the benefit of newer readers and those for whom it wasn’t relevant last time.
Flight Pass allows you to buy route passes for economy travel on flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and City.
It managed on behalf of British Airways via a company called OptionTown – details are on their website here. You cannot buy Flight Pass directly from British Airways.
It is virtually impossible to give a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ statement about whether Flight Pass is a good deal. There are a huge number of pricing permutations based on:
- how many people would share your pass, up to six
- how many tickets you want to pre-pay
- 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.
Flight Pass is ONLY available for Euro Traveller (economy) flights.
The key with Flight Pass is that you are GUARANTEED a seat on the flight you want if cash seats are still available, irrespective of the cash cost at the time you book. However, as the cheapest Flight Pass variants require 30 to 90 days advance booking, this is less attractive than you may think.
Let’s look at two examples for the Heathrow to Newcastle route.
At one extreme, you can buy 12 one-way flights between Heathrow and Newcastle for £821, so £68 each. This includes taxes. You must book all the flights within 3 months AND you must book for travel 90 days in advance. The only person who can use the Flight Pass is the original purchaser.
Taking another example, 12 one-way tickets, shared between two people with 12 months to use them up and booked at least 30 days in advance will cost you £893, so £74 per seat. If you insist on being able to book 4 hours before departure – instead of 30 days – the price shoots up to £165 per seat each-way.
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 – although the comments below confirm that the ‘four hours’ tickets can be changed at short notice for free).
You can buy a Flight Pass for a child over two years, but there is no discount.
You have last seat availability. If there are still seats for sale, irrespective of the price, you can book them – as long as you are inside the booking window of your Flight Pass. There are no blackout dates or minimum stays. British Airways also lets you pay in instalments so you do not have to find the full cost upfront.
Given the huge number of pricing options, it is impossible to say if this offers decent savings or not but I know many frequent air commuters use it.
PS. Amazingly, Flight Pass can make a huge saving on just ONE family trip. Let’s assume you want to go skiing over February half-term. Four economy flights to Salzburg, Saturday to Saturday (which is what most ski hotels insist on) will cost you over £3,000 for your family:
However, you could have bought a Flight Pass for 12 return flights, shared between four people and booked 60 days in advance, for £1,517:
Even if you ended up throwing away the other 8 return flights on your Flight Pass, you have halved the cost of your ski flights! If you wanted to do this now, however, you’d need to book a 30-day notice pass at a higher price because your Flight Pass would not start until 7th January.
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