Everyone wants to pay the cheapest possible price for their airline tickets. The issue for people departing from the majority of UK airports is the mandatory Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax that is imposed on airlines by the government.
This means that anywhere between £13 and £146 is added and incorporated onto the cost of your ticket depending on the distance to your destination and the class of travel you are flying. When combined with hefty airport taxes at places like Heathrow, this can mean that flights departing the UK are particularly expensive.
Yet that doesn’t mean that you must simply fork out the extra cash, as there is in fact an effective workaround. In much of Europe there is practically no APD charged on tickets. This means if your holiday was to ‘begin’ in Europe there is the potential for some huge savings. This method is also known as going ‘ex-EU’ (Brexit reference unintended!)
To illustrate let’s take a look at a roundtrip journey from London to Tokyo in June. Here is the price for non-stop flights from London on a combination of British Airways (BA) and Japan Airlines (JAL):
Now here is a journey on the same dates leaving from Frankfurt, Germany.
‘Starting’ your journey in Frankfurt in this case would save more than £300.
The following example however is where the savings on offer become incredible.
Let’s take the example of a family with 2 adults and 2 kids flying to Johannesburg, South Africa over Christmas and New Year.
Here is the price for the cheapest direct flights from London:
And here is the price when ‘starting’ the journey in Madrid.
As you can see in this second example, by flying from Madrid you would save over £2,700!
HOW IT WORKS IN PRACTICE
You can take advantage of this trick in a couple of ways. Often the best way is to book a separate Reward Flight Saver (RFS) ticket with BA from London to your European starting point.
For the purposes of the above examples Frankfurt would cost no more than 9,000 Avios and £35 return per person and Madrid would be 15,000 Avios and £35 return per person.
Alternatively, you could book a cheap return with the likes of Ryanair, Monarch or easyJet.
The choice is then yours; you could either arrive in Madrid for example, the night before and make a day trip exploring another new city. Or you could book a same day connection and even manage most of a day’s work before setting out.
These immense savings are not limited to flights in economy either. Using this method you can often come across business class flights ex-EU for the same price as economy flights to the same destination from the UK.
IS IT ALWAYS WORTH IT?
No, it isn’t. In shorter routes such as London-New York, the hassle of changing planes on what is only about a 7-hour direct flight to start with means that it is probably simpler to just fly direct. In fact, prices don’t actually tend to be that much cheaper ex-EU following the emergence of the likes of Norwegian Air who are dragging prices way down on flights to the US departing from London.
Starting your journey ex-EU is something everyone should contemplate before booking flights. With such significant discounts available, this could allow you to take more frequent holidays or reach places that you previously thought were too expensive.