Friday, July 8, 2016

Planning for a summer wedding in England

A dear friend is getting married in the English countryside in August so I waited to buy my ticket in anticipation of the usual Business Class fare sales that happen in spring. Sadly this year they didn't really come – there were lots of little bits of availability from specific airlines here and there, but none for my dates and destination. For this trip, I'd probably pay cash if I could find a Business Class seat for $2000-ish or less.

Headed to the English countryside...
The flight from New York City to London is honestly too short. Even if you eat before takeoff the most you'll get is about 4 hours of sleep. (Though when I took the crazy cool London City flight, I opted for the complimentary arrival service and managed to sneak in an extra hour of sleep at the spa...) Thanks to low fuel prices British Airways has kept many of their old 747s on this route, and there's few things I like more than getting my 4 hours of sleep the upstairs Business Class "tree fort". While I'm really unhappy with British Airways' credit card (canceled), astronomical reward co-pays, and horrible Customer Service systems, we still have one of their near-useless Travel Together certificates in our account so I made sure I checked that option in addition to all the others. 

I saw over on Lucky's blog a couple weeks ago that BA had great Business Class fares so I checked my dates and, alas, the best I could do for a direct flight in Business was around $3200 per person. I tried lots of different options and just couldn't get anything with a reasonable dollar or points redemption.
Sidenote: can I just say that it seems somewhat dishonest that Kayak shows Iceland Air and Norwegian Business Class fares for this route side-by-side with the other carriers? They both offer something called Business but it's clearly Premium Economy...
So after lots of poking around I ended up using the Travel Together certificate + 130,000 miles and + $2300 in fees for a Business Class there, First Class back flight for two of us (i.e., 65,000 Avios + $1150 per person). Most of the flights back from London are daytime flights, so you can actually appreciate the better food and service in First Class. We did this a couple years ago and really enjoyed it so we decided it was worth the extra miles.
$3200 per person last week
A friend once said, "the stock market is like Vegas except you get to see what happened at the table after you left and there's no free drinks". Sometimes I feel that way about point chasing... Not a week had gone by after booking my fare and I see an announcement that BA was expanding their summer Business Class fares... So of course I looked and yyyup! ouch! Business Class on my dates is now $2200. I've often said this is a hobby for people with more time than money and at I definitely don't have the time (or the patience!) to spend an hour on hold trying to get through to BA's legendarily-horrible customer service line. Further, since I transferred Amex points into my BA account, I'd end up with a pile of BA miles rather than the much-more-flexible Amex points I started with. Oy. Well, you win some, you lose some :)

Argh! One week later and the flight is $1000 cheaper!



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