?

Log in

[travel|conventions] Not coming to WFC - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-09-25 06:22
Subject: [travel|conventions] Not coming to WFC
Security: Public
Tags:conventions, radiantlisa, travel, uk
A while back, I checked my frequent flyer mileage balance with American Airlines, and discovered I had enough miles to take me and Lisa Costello to the UK for this year's World Fantasy Convention. I held off making plans until the recent scan, because of the distinct possibility of being back in treatment sufficiently heavy to keep me from traveling. Things went well on the scan side, however, so yesterday I went to book.

$700 per person in fees to secure the free mileage ticket.

I've never, ever encountered this before with award tickets. It's a London thing, I guess. I've booked international award travel to China and Australia in the past, and never paid more than about $50 in fees.

So I checked the American Airlines website for regular fares. Turns out that $700 per person fee is embedded in the ticket price as well. Likewise United Airlines. British Airways. Icelandic Airways. The cheapest fares I could find were about $1,200 per person, inclusive of that $700 airport fee.

At that point, I gave up. My income's been limited for a while due to Short Term Disability, and will be zero during October as I transition from Short Term to Long Term Disability. $1,400 for free tickets just ain't in the cards.

But I don't get it? What's the logic from the UK end? That high a passenger fee makes tickets fantastically more expensive than they already are. The UK just lost a week's worth of my tourist dollars by making it too expensive for me to fly in there.

(And yes, I have looked at alternatives like flying to Continental Europe and coming back on a regional flight or a train. That takes up too much time, as Lisa's available vacation time doesn't allow us to burn the extra days, and also takes up way too much of my energy given my fatigue levels and mobility impairments. I cannot afford to be that clever.)

Post A Comment | 19 Comments | Share | Link






saveswhat
User: saveswhat
Date: 2013-09-25 13:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've run into the same thing. I have enough miles on AA to (theoretically) fly the entire family to London, but not only are the fees ridiculous, but also it is impossible to find 5 "free" tickets on one flight, even when I try to book months in advance. The flights I do find are routed from SFO to Miami to New York to London or some other maddening itinerary and depart on Wednesdays. I've concluded that AA simply doesn't want its customers to get free tickets.

I've even run into problems trying to fly the entire family to Texas, and that's not exactly a tourist mecca.
Reply | Thread | Link



Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2013-09-25 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They only appear to have a very limited number of award seats available, and like you found out, none on direct flights. When my husband came over the last time from England, it cost $250 for his free flight, and he had to spend the night in Chicago on his way to SF.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Susan
User: lil_shepherd
Date: 2013-09-25 14:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Current highest rate of Air Passenger Duty into (and out of) the UK appears to be $300 per person per flight at current exchange rates (Over 6,000 miles for a class other than the lowest,with seat size and other exceptions) $600 both ways. Revenue and Customs website is a little unclear if this carries VAT, but it almost certainly does, which does, indeed, come to $700 ($705, actually.)

One of the objects of this tax is to reduce the number of passengers, which I guess is exactly what it has done in your case!
Reply | Thread | Link



Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-09-25 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's not clear how much is the government and how much is airline 'surcharges' - the issue is they can get away with it because people come to the UK and expect to pay.

I also suspect there's some weird maths going on with rewards tickets. The last BA miles ticket I booked had 350GBP in fees on a 'free' ticket too.
Reply | Thread | Link



Susan
User: lil_shepherd
Date: 2013-09-25 15:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But how many miles were you flying and at what class? Also, was it before April this year when APD went up? (I admit I wouldn't like to be the person at the airlines who calculates APD - has become hideously complicated.)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-09-25 16:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
4700 in Business... I had a LOT of miles.

Airlines like calculating complicated things. Have you seen how hard it is to work out a ticket price.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2013-09-25 18:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's a scene in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" when a little boy asks his friend, who is the daughter of a travel agent, how much it costs to fly to New York. The girl exclaims "No one knows!" then goes on to start listing all the variables: date, ticket class, etc.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2013-09-26 00:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've heard of, but never actually read, a proof that it's impossible to ensure that one is buying the exactly cheapest ticket currently available on airlines because by the time a price has been decided and communicated to the customer (even if that price is frozen for them for a specific time) then a cheaper ticket might have become available.
I have oodles of miles (on United) but can't find much to "spend" them on. Apart from really expensive economy class tickets, the co-pay for even an upgrade to Business Class is now quite a lot (approx $350-$700). Again, I've been asked in the past to pay $10s for an upgrade but not $100s. I have noticed that United Mileage Plus allows hotel bookings on miles, though, so I think I might be using them for that. in future.
If I lived in the US I'd use the 65,000 miles to buy United's lounge access but that's automatic for passengers with Gold status flying on international flights or connections to/from international anyway.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Susan
User: lil_shepherd
Date: 2013-09-25 18:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
So APD would be cheaper than the price Jay has been quoted, whatever the date.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-09-25 21:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, the distance would be the same or similar. Seattle-London is 4700... Portland - London isn't significantly different, unless I'm missing something there? It was a year ago so it would have been before any recent hikes.

But the airlines seem to be making hay with the fuel surcharges too.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



muntahz
User: muntahz
Date: 2013-09-25 15:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Could you fly into to France and take a hover across?
Or even the train?
From France it is pretty quick.
Reply | Thread | Link



Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-09-25 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They've killed the last of the hovercraft... Train is fastest from Paris.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



muntahz
User: muntahz
Date: 2013-09-25 18:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Boo! I loved those hoverboats! That crazy feeling when they took off and came into port.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Kevin Standlee: High Speed Train
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2013-09-25 18:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:High Speed Train
Train is fastest; probably even faster than flying, Paris-city-center-to-London-city-center. In 2005, I took a day trip to Paris that was trivially easy and quick and gave me most of a day in Paris.

Edited at 2013-09-25 06:23 pm (UTC)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2013-09-26 00:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
An academic friend of mine who lives about five minutes from Waterloo station was annoyed when they moved the London Eurostar terminal to KX/St Pancras. Despite the shorter Eurostar trip, it took him just as long and was more awkward because of the transfer at KX rather than him just walking to Waterloo and getting straight on the single train. He still regularly does Paris and Brussels as day-trips.
When I lived in Reading, the shorter journey time and more convenient starting point at KX/St Pancras meant it was definitely worth using the train for Paris (it always had been for Brussels), particularly when one was able to book through tickets for very little more than the Eurostar ticket itself. Their "Leisure Select" class was also wonderful. Effectively Business Class, sometimes cheaper than a Second Class ticket (weirdly) but never raised eyebrows on expenses claims because the name looked like a cheap ticket :-).
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-09-25 19:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Would flying to Dublin cost the same? Its a quick hop from there to London.
Reply | Thread | Link



Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2013-09-25 23:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The logic from the UK end is that it's a measure to supposedly cut carbon emissions, although that is in fact a secondary benefit: its primary purpose is to fatten Government coffers. The UK has the second highest rate of passenger duty in the world, and the fact that this canes the tourist industry has indeed been noted by that industry, to little avail.
Reply | Thread | Link



a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2013-09-26 00:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But London is full (just ask Boris Johnson) of tourists so it doesn't matter. Oh, youmean the tourist industry in the rest of the UK? Ah, well, they don't matter. Only London matters.
See recent Johnson speech saying that Wales (et al) should spend their tourist promotion budgets pushing London because everyone who comes to the UK comes to London and everyone else gets "trickle-down". Wonderful supply-side economics with as much validity as the rest of the "trickle-down" bs.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



browse
my journal
links
January 2014
2012 appearances