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Positioning flights from UK -> EU (-> BKK) avoiding UK premium APD


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I have read that it is possible to save £500 - £600 on a business class flight from UK to BKK by flying to mainland Europe first of all - avoiding the high UK taxes on premium flights.

I'm wondering if anyone here has tried this trick and how it worked for them? Is it worth the hassle and risk of missing a connection?

I had a look and Business Class Stockholm to BKK on Qatar did seem around £600 cheaper. Economy LHR -> ARN is around £100 (including 23 kg for a large suitcase). That was a BA price for November which would allow me to use up the Avios I've accumulated on a credit card. (I would allow 4 hours plus between ARN arrival and departure).

 

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34 minutes ago, nekkid said:

I have read that it is possible to save £500 - £600 on a business class flight from UK to BKK by flying to mainland Europe first of all - avoiding the high UK taxes on premium flights.

I'm wondering if anyone here has tried this trick and how it worked for them? Is it worth the hassle and risk of missing a connection?

I had a look and Business Class Stockholm to BKK on Qatar did seem around £600 cheaper. Economy LHR -> ARN is around £100 (including 23 kg for a large suitcase). That was a BA price for November which would allow me to use up the Avios I've accumulated on a credit card. (I would allow 4 hours plus between ARN arrival and departure).

 

I have flown Swiss via Zurich from Heathrow for under£1500 return; excellent service and in 2019 several flights form LHR to ZRH a day. Great lounge in Zurich and the flight from there to BKK is overnight leaving at 18.00 local time and arriving at 09.30 or 10.00 the next day. Return flight is about 13.00 and you get the last shuttle of the same day into Heathrow 

book direct with Swiss and you get change and refund options.

I also went via Middle East on Gulf air via Bahrain once for roughly the same money but that seems to have to over £2000.

both airlines offered really good service pre Covid 

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Thanks - good to hear your +ve experience on Swiss. I remember seeing good prices on Swiss this time last year before Covid kicked off and changed everything. I was put off them I think by a youtuber - Non Stop Dan IIRC - so great to hear they were good for you. I'll definitely keep an eye out for Swiss deals - so thanks for highlighting them.

Gulf also had lots of good mentions on here before I think, so shame their prices have gone up.

Qatar's price from Stockholm to BKK when I looked was around £1,200 - less the approx £90 worth of qmiles (Qatar's airmiles) that I have. Against that I would have a much longer trip and the risk of missing my connection ...

As an aside, on my two previous trips to BKK I flew Qatar, and I didn't mind the UK - Doha - UK leg in economy as careful seat selection left me with most of a centre row of seats to myself. The Doha - BKK - Doha leg was full in economy and on that leg I really wished for Business Class. Unfortunately I haven't found a way of getting a good deal on Qatar with just Doha to BKK and back in Business.

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It has been a good option in the past if you wish to fly more comfortably and have the time to save a fair amount of money. The principal can work for economy flights too, there are savings too, just not as much

One thing to be mindful of, if there are delays or issues with your positioning flight that cause you to miss your subsequent flight the airline will have no obligation to assist. refund or rebook even if is the same airline (as it is a seperate ticket) so allow plenty of time between flight to minimise this risk. In pre-covid circumstances I have done it, but now too many flights are being cancelled and rescheduled that even the best made plans may be scuppered too easily

Edited by gmingot
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3 hours ago, gmingot said:

It has been a good option in the past if you wish to fly more comfortably and have the time to save a fair amount of money. The principal can work for economy flights too, there are savings too, just not as much

One thing to be mindful of, if there are delays or issues with your positioning flight that cause you to miss your subsequent flight the airline will have no obligation to assist. refund or rebook even if is the same airline (as it is a seperate ticket) so allow plenty of time between flight to minimise this risk. In pre-covid circumstances I have done it, but now too many flights are being cancelled and rescheduled that even the best made plans may be scuppered too easily

Thanks - yes, that is a very good point. Probably wise to play safe until we are well past the pandemic.

I think I've seen Youtuber posts where they've stayed overnight in their "positioning" city, but I guess that just makes it even more elaborate and in the current climate does not eliminate risk.

I read, I think on the BBC website, of a rush of summer holiday bookings being made by the over 50s in the UK so I guess some are confident enough to commit to plans now - though of course they may be covered if booking a package, whereas, as you quite rightly point out I would not be.

I've also been invited to a social event in the US in the summer - so at least some people seem confident over there.

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I live in the midlands and I have noticed big differences with Qatar pricing between LHR, MAN and BHX. The latter is closest to me and usually up to £400 cheaper than Heathrow the only problem being that they have now dropped form 3 flights per day to 5 flights per week; they show plenty of ongoing flights to BKK so as long as you don’t mind a bit of time in Doha you should be fine.

the opposite applies with Swiss with plenty of flights from London to Zurich but only one flight to Bangkok.

I have been told that Finnair are also a good option.

Qatar have altered their terms since the autumn in that the cheaper business class booking no longer includes access to a lounge although you can buy this if you fell you need separately for about $80.

I thought, possibly mistakenly, that if you booked direct with the airline they had an obligation to get you to your final destination if you missed your connection and that in most cases their software wouldn’t accept a booking where in theory this wasn’t possible. You can buy cheaper tickets from bucket shops but that’s where I think you take a risk

just needs careful planning; I always try to arrive in LOS before 13.0 so I can get to my hotel mid late afternoon.

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Thanks - I realised there was no seat selection (until checkin) in Qatar Business Classic - no lounge access as well is not good.

I try for a quick turnaround at Doha, so no lounge access probably not a deal breaker for me. In BKK I liked using the KLM / Air France lounge through Lounge Key membership. I got quite pissed on wine in that lounge before my last flight back from BKK, so took a quick shower, and gulped down two bottles of water in the Departure lounge in an attempt to sober up!

BHX and LHR both quite convenient for me. In the past I flew from CWL (Cardiff). The service had only recently started and there was loads of room in economy on a 787 on my UK leg flights. Just compared BHX pricing and I see it looks cheaper than Cardiff, so thanks for highlighting BHX. I'll check out Finnair too. :D

Yep - I too like to arrive at lunchtime in BKK - I find I avoid jet lag that way.

On my last flight back from BKK -> DOH -> CWL we missed the connection at DOH. Qatar put me up for a day in a 5 star hotel in the diplomatic quarter, with approx £50 credit (in QAR) to spend. I mainly remember the bed which was very comfy as I spent a lot of that day asleep. I did get room service breakfast in my room at 3 am which was nice - as we were to leave the hotel at 4 am.

 

Edited by nekkid
To correct statement on seat selection in Qatar Business Classic
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21 minutes ago, nekkid said:

Thanks - I realised there was no seat selection (until checkin) in Qatar Business Classic - no lounge access as well is not good.

I try for a quick turnaround at Doha, so no lounge access probably not a deal breaker for me. In BKK I liked using the KLM / Air France lounge through Lounge Key membership. I got quite pissed on wine in that lounge before my last flight back from BKK, so took a quick shower, and gulped down two bottles of water in the Departure lounge in an attempt to sober up!

BHX and LHR both quite convenient for me. In the past I flew from CWL (Cardiff). The service had only recently started and there was loads of room in economy on a 787 on my UK leg flights. Just compared BHX pricing and I see it looks cheaper than Cardiff, so thanks for highlighting BHX. I'll check out Finnair too. :D

Yep - I too like to arrive at lunchtime in BKK - I find I avoid jet lag that way.

On my last flight back from BKK -> DOH -> CWL we missed the connection at DOH. Qatar put me up for a day in a 5 star hotel in the diplomatic quarter, with approx £50 credit (in QAR) to spend. I mainly remember the bed which was very comfy as I spent a lot of that day asleep. I did get room service breakfast in my room at 3 am which was nice - as we were to leave the hotel at 4 am.

 

I had a similar experience to you in Bahrain with a stopover because I had actually changed flights and it was a 14 hour stopover; again a 5 star hotel. I have very funny memories of a girl in a burka taking selfies in front of a huge Christmas tree in the foyer, surreal!
 

Swiss use Thai air lounge in bangkok which wasn’t great to be honest; next time I would probably try another star alliance lounge.

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On 15/01/2021 at 16:25, Chrisrs said:

I had a similar experience to you in Bahrain with a stopover because I had actually changed flights and it was a 14 hour stopover; again a 5 star hotel. I have very funny memories of a girl in a burka taking selfies in front of a huge Christmas tree in the foyer, surreal!
 

Swiss use Thai air lounge in bangkok which wasn’t great to be honest; next time I would probably try another star alliance lounge.

The best star alliance business lounge in bkk is the Eva Lounge by a long way, the Thai lounges are very poor in comparison 

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1 hour ago, mercmanrob said:

The best star alliance business lounge in bkk is the Eva Lounge by a long way, the Thai lounges are very poor in comparison 

Agreed, first two trips I made were both with EVA when you could get a decent deal on business but now you can save nearly £1000 by 1 stopping with other airlines. £1000 equals 40,000 baht or more importantly 20 LT or 40 ST. Comfortable flight important but mongering more fun 5555

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  • 4 weeks later...

In the current climate i would have thought these positioning flights were a greater risk because of the extra leg and additional potential for things to go wrong in the event of covid restrictions being imposed.

That said in pre covid times it was often much cheaper to start BA business class flights in Amsterdam and the middle Eastern airlines often had good deals out of Scandinavia.

Swiss / Lufthansa have recently released good premium deals from the UK. From £2100 for two in Business and a tad under £4k for two in first.

The Flyertalk premium fares forum is a good resource for such deals

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The webpage https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-allowances-for-air-passenger-duty says

Duty is charged on each passenger at the rate for the place where their journey ends (their final destination).

 

So presumably you would need to book two tickets, one from the UK to the european city and one from the european city to the final destination and then collect your bags at the european airport, go round to check-in again and check-in again? Maybe less of a hassle if flying business class as shorter queues?

Possibly a helpful desk person at UK check-in may check your bags through to the final destination so you did not have to get them at the EU airport, but single EU flights can be quite expensive and would likely eat into some of the savings from booking everything on a single ticket?

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Swiss currently offering LHR to BKK via ZRH for under £1100 for November departure and December return.

the big question is will we be able to travel without quarantine otherwise you have to allow 24 days for this 14 in LOS and 10 in UK; that’s just too long

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2 hours ago, Chrisrs said:

Swiss currently offering LHR to BKK via ZRH for under £1100 for November departure and December return.

the big question is will we be able to travel without quarantine otherwise you have to allow 24 days for this 14 in LOS and 10 in UK; that’s just too long

Thanks for highlighting. Looks a great offer. If only ... remaining hopeful "normality" is not too far away. :Cross_Fingers:

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Some good BC deals on FinnAir, flew with them in Biz a few years ago via Helsinki for 1600 euros

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I have often bought a ticket from Amsterdam to BKK often flying back through London often saving c£500 and getting extra BA tier points !!.   To avoid the risk of missing connections I have flown over the night before staying in a cheap airport hotel.

If you are in London / South-East it is possible to travel overnight to Holland by Sail-Rail see seat 61 for details.    

 

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i should of flown etihad business from oslo last may but got cancelled due to covid, flight to oslo was 100euro but on way back i could skiplag and exit at heathrow,was 1100 euro for the flight so 1200 in total or 1050 pound at the time,about 800 cheaper than just going from london with etihad,oslo and stockholm are usually the cheapest places close to uk to do this type of trip

 

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On 20/02/2021 at 14:40, Gr JBB said:

I have often bought a ticket from Amsterdam to BKK often flying back through London often saving c£500 and getting extra BA tier points !!.   To avoid the risk of missing connections I have flown over the night before staying in a cheap airport hotel.

If you are in London / South-East it is possible to travel overnight to Holland by Sail-Rail see seat 61 for details.    

 

Have also done this route with BA in BC costing £1350 (SEPT) No overnight stay in Amsterdam KLM ex Manchester.

Only problem was BA using old 777-200 however now BA will be using B787-9 on LHR-BKK as from Nov21 i will

be looking for bargains in 2022.

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