Earlier this week, I talked about Open Jaw tickets. They’re a great way of finding a deal when you want to hit multiple destinations on the same trip. In today’s article, I am going to cover some more tips for the next time you’re deal hunting.
As my work continued and I flew more regularly, I learned A lot of tricks for flying all over the place. I came to the point where I was in demand in all sorts of locations. We had a Singapore office that looked after the whole Asia region. I would go out there for 4 to 5 weeks at a time and based out of Singapore I would fly to China, South Korea or Japan to visit customers there.
At the same time as expanding our Asia operation, we were looking to open up a new market in Latin America. We found a partner in Colombia, based in the capital city of Bogota. This meant a whole new region to fly to for me.
Economy you say!?
I was by far the most frequent flyer in the company. But since it was just me there weren’t really many formal policies on flying.
I mentioned previously that they liked me to fly in Economy or Premium Economy but allowed me to stay extra nights if I wanted to. That saved them money over flying me Business Class. After a while, I established a system of setting the budget for a trip based on the most suitable direct Economy ticket to a location.
My second trip to Colombia was coming up and I found that the Colombian national airline, Avianca, operated the only direct flight to London.
So, I got their price for a return Economy trip, and it was huge. This set my budget for the trip. I then went out to see if I could fly for less with another airline. Of course, that would mean an indirect flight, but I was ok with that. In the end, I found a trip with KLM, in Business class, that was cheaper than the direct flight in Economy. So that’s what I did.
I know that a few of you might be saying, hang on, if it was cheaper in business class on KLM, how much was the Economy on KLM? Well yes, I could have saved the company some money by going on a multi-stop flight on KLM in Economy. But there’s a very good reason why I didn’t, which I will come back to later.
Suffice to say, the agreement I had with the person who signed my expenses was; find the direct flight cost and if I could find it cheaper another way he didn’t care as long as it was for less.
An unusual route
The route I found was very interesting from a flying enthusiast’s point of view.
Outbound on KLM:
- London to Amsterdam on an Embraer 190.
- Amsterdam to Panama City on a 777.
- Panama City to Bogota on a 737 operated by local company Copa Airlines.
Inbound with Air France, which partners with KLM:
- Bogota to Paris on a 787
- Paris to London on an A320
All of these flights were in Business class, which meant I got to compare KLM and Air France’s long-haul options.
KLM had a lovely big seat, slightly offset with the person next to you, so you didn’t feel like they were right beside you. The food, drink and service were excellent. And I did get KLM’s signature miniature bottle shaped like a Dutch house, containing a Dutch speciality drink.
Air France had a rather unusual lie flat, but not horizontal bed option. While the seat did go flat, it was at a slight angle so your feet were essentially under the head of the person in front of you. I was worried that this would be uncomfortable, but I slept very well. The food was amazing, I couldn’t stop eating the miniature French baguettes they kept bringing me.
The flight was delayed which caused some issues at the other end, I’ll come back to that later.
Why didn’t I fly One World?
By now you know I am a British Airways flyer, living in the One World alliance. KLM/Air France are both Sky Team members. So why would I fly outside my alliance?
Obviously, there are times when you have to fly with a different airline or alliance. Sometimes your airline or alliance doesn’t go to where you want.
There was a One World option open for me to Bogota. I could have flown LATAM (who are no longer One World), via another Latin American country. It was also possible to use Iberia and travel via Spain. I had done the Iberia route before and I hated it, it was an old A340, no option for Premium Economy and really didn’t enjoy the service. So that was a straight up – no.
Another reason why people sometimes try other airlines is simply because they can. When you have achieved enough tier points to get to the level you want to get to, earning more tier points becomes pointless. Tier points, qualifying sectors or whatever other name your airline has for them, reset each year.
As it turned out I was in an even better situation than this. On a previous trip BA had had a huge computer fault meaning a lot of luggage had been lost and it had all been checked manually, meaning huge delays at the airport. I had only been minorly affected, but since I was flying on the weekend of the computer fault, they had offered me compensation. What they did was gave me a 1-year extension on my Gold status, which meant that the tier points I earned for every flight during that time was completely useless, yes I’d get Avios, but nothing that would help me with my status. So I decided during this time to experiment with other airlines. It was then that I used status matching to try the Star Alliance, and I flew other airlines that I’d heard good reports about, such as KLM.
If you’ve reached the maximum tier on your current airline and you’re looking for a deal, try an indirect route with another airline. This way you can find some amazing prices. And you get to experience life outside your usual alliance.