Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why flying from Inverness can save you £££ in air fare and Air Passenger Duty (and why I went)

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Rob’s note: Whilst it is unlikely that you are travelling anywhere in the next few weeks, we are carrying on regardless!  After all, even in normal times it is very rare that anyone acts immediately on our travel tips, airline reviews or hotel reviews.  We will try to keep you full of good ideas for when usual service resumes.

Inverness Airport is not much to look at, although I’ve seen far worse.  The entire airport seems about the size of the Business Class Lounge at the Qatar Airways base in Doha!

It has, however, become very popular in recent year with people who are looking for cheap British Airways Club World fares.

Inverness, along with other airports in the Scottish Highlands and Islands region, has been exempt from Air Passenger Duty since 1994.  Between 1994 and 2016, this fact fell into the ‘nice to know but not very useful’ category.

In 2016, British Airways launched flights from Inverness to London Heathrow.  Suddenly things got a lot more interesting.

By booking your long haul British Airways business class flight as Inverness – London – XXXXXX, you would save £172 per person in Air Passenger Duty.

To be honest, I never had any interest in trying this out.  It was inconvenient and of course the cost of getting to Inverness takes a chunk out of your £172 saving.  There were also transit passenger taxes to pay at Heathrow which ate into your saving.

Here is an example on an Avios ticket in Club World to Dubai from Heathrow:

…. and from Inverness:

You save £98 per person.

OK, it’s better than nothing.  However, you need to get to Inverness in the first place, which is another 4,500 Avios + £17.50 each way.  Your saving soon disappears and you are putting a low value on your time.

What really kicked off interest in Inverness was a series of cheap British Airways long haul Club World fares.  These were subtantially cheaper than fares from London, even after adjusting for Air Passenger Duty, and more in line with what you would usually see out of Amsterdam.

You would also earn an extra 80 British Airways Executive Club tier points (40 points each way) due to the two additional Club Europe flights on your ticket.

If you lived close to Heathrow, taking advantage of these fares from Inverness was fairly simple.

It is possible to do a back-to-back on British Airways at Inverness as long as you already have your boarding pass and have no luggage.  Fly up, get off the plane quickly, go into the tiny terminal, head back through security and fly back on the same aircraft.

At Heathrow, you head straight to your long-haul aircraft, having checked in your luggage before you took the Inverness flight.

Alternatively, because you can have a sub-24 hour stopover in London without triggering Air Passenger Duty, you could fly from London to Inverness and back the previous day.  You get to go home at night – as long as your home is near Heathrow – and then head back to Heathrow the next day.  You need to ensure the gap between landing from Inverness and taking off the next day for New York or wherever is under 24 hours.

If you don’t live near Heathrow, however, you have to get to Inverness using another airline or the train.

Other airlines flying to Inverness, according to the airport website, are easyJet (Gatwick, Luton, Bristol) and Loganair (Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Dublin, Jersey).

This creates a serious risk of misconnection, and if you miss your British Airways flight from Inverness then your entire long-haul trip will be cancelled.  In order to guarantee you don’t miss your flight from Inverness – which would be the first part of your long-haul ticket – you may need to stay overnight.

The airport lacked a hotel and, with a few exceptions, accommodation in Inverness itself has poor feedback for quality and value, especially during the Summer.

The good news is that a brand new Courtyard by Marriott hotel has opened at Inverness Airport.  Take a look at its website here.  Tomorrow we are reviewing it.  If it’s any good, you may feel happier about trying to find a deal from Inverness for your next long haul British Airways flight.

Comments (85)

  • Deb says:

    As we say here in Spain, ANIMO! Thanks for soldiering on. We do really appreciate all the information you are sharing with us.

  • Caroline Scott says:

    Not so much of a problem for your Scottish readers, we can travel by train from most major cities reasonably cheaply if booked far enough in advance.

  • Vit says:

    Kind of OT but INV related: Looking for opinions on LHR – INV flight this coming Friday evening. Should I opt in for voucher or keep waiting / hoping for cancellation? Getting email from BA two days ago that flight is go-ahead. Feel it is very little chance now that it will cancelled.

    Cheers,
    Vit

    • Rob says:

      It won’t be cancelled – I think INV will continue regardless.

      • Ian says:

        I hope so too. We’re going up to Inverness for a couple of days next week and the flights are still showing as operating normally. BA probably won’t want to trigger EC261 compensation by cancellation so late, although the second daily flight to INV has been cancelled on Wednesday.

        Regarding hotels, if you want to stay in the city centre, the Premier Inn on the River Ness is good (up to the present time it has always scored no. 1 on TripAdvisor reviews) and is cheap outside of the summer season.

    • Andrew says:

      Enjoy the journey!

      You’ll probably have your quickest ever flight. There won’t be a lot of congestion between door close and take-off.

  • Clickbait himself says:

    Watch this comment get deleted. Below posted by Rob himself.

    ”Can we please have a rule blocking all posts here which reference Inverness starting points?!

    The cost of getting to Inverness, coupled with the lack of suitable low cost accommodation for anyone who can’t back to back, means it is a non-starter for most people to save the £166 APD.

    It is effectively just clickbait for the 99.8% of the UK population who are not within an hours drive of INV,”

    Source:
    https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/premium-fare-deals/1976320-ba-biz-sale-uk-usa-1700-2100s-2.html

    • Shoestring says:

      what about people who fancy a weekend in Scotland as the start of their holiday? a free weekend, in large part

    • Mikeact says:

      I knew I’d seen it somewhere ! But then, I’ve had to retract a couple of things over the years!

      • Shoestring says:

        extra tier points have a certain value for some people

        • Shoestring says:

          anyway, whilst I am no apologist for Raffles (not that an apology is called for) – why should somebody not be free to change his/ her mind? in the light of new evidence?

          ‘Well when events change, I change my mind. What do you do?’ – well known quote attributed to Winston Churchill, John Maynard Keynes & others

          Here we go: I changed my mind on coronavirus: I thought the initial Govt strategy was very defensible ie herd immunity – then as I thought about it more, I realised it exposed too many elderly & vulnerable senior citizens to the risk of death, very unnecessarily if a vaccine comes along next year. As it happens all the govt scientists agreed with me and have completely dropped herd immunity.

          • ChrisBCN says:

            This reads like you changed your mind and then the government scientists all agreed with you.

            I still don’t think you understand what you have done.

      • Rob says:

        I’m not retracting it 🙂 Firstly, the article today makes clear that I don’t see value in using Inverness just to save APD on an Avios redemption. Secondly, part of my problem was the lack of a decent hotel for overnights which is no longer an issue.

        You also take the comment out of context. It was in response to clickbait posts on Flyertalk promising ‘flights from the UK from £xxxx’ which in reality were only available from Inverness.

        • BlueThroughCrimp says:

          I can see why it’s not as attractive if you have to travel from London, but being in Dundee, and probably most of North and Central Scotland, it makes more sense financially than Edinburgh.
          We left the car at Aberdeen, trained it to Inverness, and spent the night. It was supposed to be the airport Marriott, but with the delayed opening, re-accommodated in the Culloden House at the booked rate. (£50 was my parents senior citizen rate!)

    • ChrisC says:

      TBH the saving on avios fares ex INV is minimal but they aren’t for cash fares where the savings in base fare and BA surcharges are often in the several hundred pounds range even allowing for the cost of positioning flights and hotel if it’s necessary (depending on the schedule it’s possible to do a back to back at INV meaning no hotel is required.

      I’ve done a couple of ex- INVs and the saving on the BA surcharge was often 3 times that of the APD for Club fares making it more than worthwhile,

  • Alex Sm says:

    Thanks for keeping the HfP banner high, Rob! This is important at the times like this.
    Also, this articles captures the spirit very well – you may want to quote it in on of your posts:
    https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/travel-is-hardwired-into-our-souls-this-virus-won-t-stop-us-for-long-a4385556.html

  • Craig Renilson says:

    Apologies if I am being a bit slow, but can you check in luggage at Heathrow for a flight booking originating from Inverness? BA are quite ok with this?

  • Rob te Brake says:

    “At Heathrow, you head straight to your long-haul aircraft, having checked in your luggage before you took the Inverness flight.”

    But luggage should be checked-in in Inverness right? It’s an Inverness-LHR-xxx ticket.