Nonstop Austin – London British Airways Route Starts March 3rd!

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As a Texan, and former Austinite I am pretty excited about today’s announcement of a new British Airways nonstop route from Austin to London’s Heathrow Airport on a 787 Dreamliner!  Austin will join the two other Texas cities already served by British Airways, Houston and Dallas.  Many were surprised that Austin was selected for this new service, but I think it is an awesome choice as Austin is already a large and happening town, and (sadly for those who live there), it is only getting bigger.

Flight times:

The first flight will be March 3rd at 7:00PM, arriving at Heathrow at 10:00AM the following morning.  The return flight will begin service on March 4th at 12:35PM, with an arrival into Austin at 5:00PM.  I really like those flight times for heading to Europe, especially for those who are in the fancy seats and can get some sleep on the overnight flight.

The press release indicates that the service will initially be five days a week, but will increase to daily by the end of the year.

Using miles or points to book the new route:

This flight will have economy, premium economy, and business class seats.  I can’t yet find the award flight options available quite yet using Avios, but based on the distance of the flight (Avios uses a distance based chart), it should ring in at the following points prices:

Economy: 25,000 Avios each way

Premium Economy: 37,500 Avios each way

Business: 50,000 Avios each way

You could also choose to book with a partner such as American Airlines, which would cost you as low as 20,000 American Airlines miles for economy each way during their off-peak times of October 15 – May 15th.  If you want business class, if will cost you 50,000 American Airlines miles each way.

British Airways Business Class seats on the 787

Watch out for high taxes and fees:

The bad news about this route is that flying British Airways (and out of London in general) is going to cost you a ton in taxes and fees even on award tickets.  As an example, even if you get this route in economy for 40k American Airlines miles round trip during the off-peak months, you will then have to cough up close to $700 dollars in taxes and fees.  If you sit in a premium cabin, this number increases to around $1,000.  Yes, $1,000 in fees to go along with your award ticket.

It can be argued that is still a good deal for a premium cabin since the price to purchase the ticket would be a good deal more than that (especially if you are conserving points by using the British Airways Visa Travel Together Ticket), but for many families it is not practical to pay $700 – $1000 in taxes and fees in addition to miles for a flight to London.

Cost to purchase a revenue ticket:

Especially in economy, you will be better off usually purchasing the ticket and earning miles than using points to fly this route.  Do remember that if you are using American miles you can avoid the $700+ in fees as long as you cross the pond on a carrier other than British Airways. 

The lowest fare so far for the route is just shy of $1,700 round trip, which is about $700 higher than some American flights from Austin that connect in Dallas.  Hopefully we will see some lower fares appear, and they will get the award inventory loaded shortly.  Even though there are some financial challenges to using miles and points for this route thanks to the high taxes and fuel surcharges, I am still very glad to hear it will be an option, especially on the new 787.

Any other Texans looking forward to this new route and great plane?!

Comments

  1. With no competition BA will charge way more for people that want to pay for the convenience of not having to connect in Dallas. Not sure I would pay $700 for that convenience.

  2. Will likely be worth it for folks that want to go from/through LHR to AUS and avoid immigration/customs at their US stop (JFK, DFW, etc.). For US travelers leaving from AUS, AUS-DFW-LHR is likely the better option given the exorbitant fuel surcharges BA has and that DFW-LHR is a 777-300ER.

  3. As an Austinite, I’m excited about the straight shot to Europe/Isles–and I agree the flight times are excellent. Just wish we could do it without the high taxes/fees. I think I saw something several months ago (maybe via email from BA?) trying to get some support/petitioning to UK authorities to lower the taxes/fees–any idea if there’s hope for lower fees in the future, or if efforts are underway to lower fees to pull more traffic to UK?

  4. @Spencer W – those petitions are for the government to lower the Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is charged on all departing UK passengers (at a high rate for premium class passengers). It doesn’t have anything to do with the hefty fuel surcharges on BA redemptions.

  5. The “fuel surcharge” is an absolute deal killer for using miles. There are many ways of using Avios and AAdvantage miles that are not insane.

  6. @mike reed: I know, but before we start a discussion about FD, I thought it is best to show people how to knock $100 or so off their tickets

    But, yes, BA is completely useless for long distance awards

  7. it’s not so much about the YQ that BA charges (many other airlines do too), but the double whammy of YQ on top of London APD that kills most awards, which makes even a F award a tough pill to swallow

    they can all it metal neutral all they want, but fact is from hard product, soft product, and award redemption points of view, BA and AA are drastically different. At their flagship route of JFK-LHR, they aren’t even co-terminal at either end. It’s anything but a seamless experience.

  8. @Pete – It is so much about YQ though, APD and other taxes typically come to around $220 for a RT economy flight USA to UK. BA charges an extra +/- $500 in YQ on top of that. So the difference between United and British airways is $500 for an award seat. I would feel like a chump if I had to pay that so I don’t go near British Airways for my business travel either and I advise others to do the same.

  9. I priced out a round trip flight this afternoon after I found out about this awesome news. Came to just under $1000. One of the comments in the article got around $850, so I don’t know where that $1700 came from. Can’t wait!

    • Jason, great news! That was just the first fares loaded, but wouldn’t surprise me to see lower fares like you mention. Thanks!

  10. I’m somewhat new, so thanks in advance for answering this question as I am not clear on the fees: Are there huge fees on one ways into London or just RTs?

    • Carrie, both in terms of fuel surcharges on BA, but there is an extra departure tax from London you wouldn’t get on a one-way only into London.

  11. There is word that BA will drop the YQ on economy class tickets paid for with Avios as VS dropped it earlier this year, on APD however that is the government and they seem blind to how damaging it is

  12. Keep in mind BA screws you because you can’t select a seat without paying an extra $38 a seat per leg. If you try to book on AA, you can’t even get a seat unless you are Gold. All others have to wait like SW then try to select their seats. With a toddler that’s a crappy option. Why can’t booking an international flight be fun and easy these days. It totally ruins my day booking these kinds of flights now a days, Annoying. The BA flight would be a no brainer, but paying $240 for a family of 3 is annoying and out of principle I don’t want to do it -just roll it into the flipping price. All this nickel and diming the airlines do really annoys me.

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