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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.
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.
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?!