When the British Airways business class (Club World) sale offer came out, I drooled. When I learned that the girls are going to grandma’s for a couple of weeks in August, we started looking at schedules and remaining vacation days. When we got each other into a frenzy over how awesome it would be to to catch the Olympic vibe in London, and maybe (just MAYBE) see an actual Olympic event live – that’s when I booked!
Until last week I couldn’t imagine ever paying for long-haul business. But at $2K for non-stop round-trip from West Coast to London, I used every excuse in the book to justify this splurge.
It is entirely my fault that we waited to book until the last day of the sale. Instead of pitching the whole idea to my wife, patiently explaining why this trip isn’t as expensive as it looks at first glance, and letting her mull it over for days while seeing the rate availability disappear, I should have acted like any reasonable man would: plunk down the 4 grand first, deal with the threat of divorce later. Alas I am too much into the whole “mutual decision” thing, and it comes back to bite me every time.
The result of this procrastination was that the non-stop back to SFO was no longer available on the day we wanted. This is expected to cost us extra 4 hours, and $100/ticket.
SFO-LHR-LAX in BA business priced at ~$2,000 on BA.com. It was the same price to include LAX-SFO on AA, but I wanted to use the 10% BA Visa discount, which is not valid on journeys that include other airlines. So I decided to buy a separate coach ticket for the short segment.
However, BA.com wasn’t accepting the discount code for the open jaw, with an error message that the discount was invalid for this number of flights, or some such nonsense. I decided to book without the discount as it was 1am on the last day of the sale, the US call center was closed and I didn’t want to lose these flights.
I called the next morning and spent over an hour on the phone explaining that I should have received the discount but BA.com was misbehaving. They finally agreed to issue a refund for $200/person, so at the end each BA ticket should cost $1800, provided the refund materializes. This would have been my final price had I bought the simple round-trip SFO-LHR-SFO, but now I have to buy a separate coach ticket LAX-SFO, adding another $100, but still $100 cheaper than the full $2000 without the discount. A good deal in my book since I don’t mind being in coach on such a short flight.
Reading other reports it appears that BA.com doesn’t deal well with open jaws in general. Buyer beware.
United is selling this segment for $78, but I like AA’s policy that treats 2 separate tickets on AA or OneWorld partners as a single through ticket. I feel it is worth $22 to avoid problems in case our flight from LHR is delayed.
Where To Go?
We will have 7.5 days in Europe. We’ll start with a couple of days in London, but since we’ve been to this great city twice before, it might be time to branch out.
Here is the short list we are considering at the moment. Please help us decide:
- Travel around England (we’ve already been to Windsor and Bath)
- Glasgow: we passed it over the last time we toured Scotland. Is it worth a visit?
How to Justify Paying for Business Class On Your Own Dime
The first thing to realize is that you MUST go. If you allow yourself to consider that the whole trip is entirely optional, and that you’d be better off contributing to a 529 account or taking an extra trip to Disneyland, then you are doomed, no jetting off to Europe for you, even in coach with 3 connections in Kiev. Instead, come up with a good reason that no one, including your family, can say no to. For example, 13 years of marriage is a nice round number to celebrate even if a few weeks too early.
So assuming that I must be in London to catch the Olympic vibe, here’s the calculation.
Non-stop coach SFO-LHR-SFO is around $1500 (ok, with connections, and at the time the sale was on, it was probably around $1000 on US carriers, but let’s not dwell on that). Therefore, with BA Visa 10% discount:
- 14,175 Avios expected for flying and extra BA Visa spend
- $1900 (as explained in The Booking)
- 20,700 Avios expected
Let’s value the extra 6500 Avios at $150 (ticket to Hawaii = $600 = 25,000 Avios, therefore 6500 Avios = $156)
Effectively, this is like a confirmed upgrade to CW for 1900 – 1350 – 150 = $400. WORTH IT!
Nagging the wife for wasting the extra $100 because we didn’t book quickly enough – PRICELESS!
Lodgings and Other Cost-Mitigating Factors
- Plenty of Club Carlson points for the nights we spend outside London.
- We’ll get roughly half of those points back for staying at Park Plaza under the current big promo!
- Plenty of Brownie Points(tm) to stay with friends in London!
- We’ll visit the Chase Visa lounge to load up on free food and booze!
Stay tuned for the actual Trip Report in a few weeks!