How to avoid British Airways’ skyrocketing Easter ticket prices

Apr 4, 2022

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British Airways appears to have pumped up some of its most popular short-haul prices in an apparent bid to deter travellers from booking seats until after the Easter holidays.

The U.K. flag carrier has been forced to cancel more than 90 flights over the past three days after the latest wave of COVID-19 ripped through its workforce.

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Related: Travel is back but are UK airports actually ready?

The resulting staff shortage has left the airline in a fight to fulfil its busiest flight schedule in two years as thousands of U.K. holidaymakers flock abroad for the first restriction-free school holidays since the pandemic began.

What’s happening with BA prices?

Between now and Sunday 17 April the lowest fare for a BA flight from Gatwick to Manchester is £418. Image via Britishairways.com

In an apparent effort to avoid being further overwhelmed as reported by the Independent, BA has ramped up some of its short-haul prices to levels that no rational passenger would ever consider.

Between now and Sunday 17 April, for example, the lowest fare for a one-way BA flight from Gatwick to Manchester is £418 after fees have been included.

According to Google Flights analytics, that same trip three days ago would have cost around £89. British Airways is the only airline that services the Gatwick to Manchester route without stops.

According to Google Flights analytics, the cost of a flight from Gatwick to Manchester has rocketed in the last three days. British Airways is the only airline that services that route without stops. Image via Google Flights

But it isn’t just domestic British Airways flights that appear to have gone up.

Any BA flight from Heathrow to Athens between now and April 17 is £619. That same flight on Monday 18 April costs £127, and just £73 the day after that.

Any BA flight from Heathrow to Athens between now and April 17 is £619. That same flight on Monday 18 April costs £127, and just £73 the day after that. Image via Britishairways.com

Is it cheaper flying with other airlines?

Naturally, during peak periods such as during a popular school holiday season, one would expect prices to be higher than usual. But when you compare these prices to similar journeys with other airlines, they still appear way out of whack alongside the competition.

For example: an Aegean Air flight from Heathrow to Athens in economy on 15 April costs £207, while EasyJet will get you there from Gatwick for £204, all of which would be considerable savings on current British Airways prices.

Related: Travelling this Easter? You might want to get to the airport earlier than usual

As for anyone planning to spend the Easter bank holiday in Dublin, you could take the early-morning BA flight on Friday 15 April for £419, or go with Aer Lingus ten minutes earlier for £141.

Broken down, that 280-mile “hop” from London to Dublin costs £1.49 per mile with BA, and 50p per mile with Aer Lingus.

An Aegean Air flight from Heathrow to Athens on 15 April costs £207, while EasyJet will get you there from Gatwick for £204. Image via Google Flights

By those maths, the BA flight is cheaper by the mile than it charged passengers to fly Concorde from London to New York in 1989. And that flight included champagne, cigars and caviar.

Can I find better value using Avios?

While cash prices for flights can deviate depending upon demand, or other variables such as rising fuel costs, Avios prices are locked in. If you’re seeing prices skyrocket it’s always worth checking for reward availability on your desired route to see if it’s possible to make savings.

Related: How to transfer your Avios between British Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus accounts

In this instance, if we were to use the above Heathrow to Athens flight on 16 April as an example, we found that redeeming Avios for a business class ticket would save you a considerable amount versus paying cash prices for economy.

TPG currently values Avios at 1.1p, meaning that even at the highest Avios redemption of 27,250 Avios, plus £0.50 in fees, would have a cash value of £300.25, including fees. In this instance, you would save £390.75 for the business class redemption compared to the cash price currently being offered by British Airways for the same day with an economy ticket.

Related: The ultimate guide to British Airways Avios

However, the greater saving here would be in redeeming 18,350 Avios, plus £25 in fees. In cash value terms this redemption — including fees — would be £226.85 for a one-way business class ticket. This would save you £464.15 versus the current £691 price tag listed for an economy ticket.

Similarly, taking the Heathrow-Dublin flight referenced above as our example. Cash prices for economy on 11 April are currently listed as £419 including fees, or business class for £602.

Instead, you could find great value by booking business class on the same day for 8,500 Avios, plus £25.00 fees which would have a total cash value of £118.50 including fees.

This would save you £483.50 versus paying cash for business class; or save you £300.50 versus paying cash for economy.

Bottom line

British Airways are in the midst of a staffing crisis due to pandemic cuts and partly due to last-minute sicknesses within their workforce. As a result, a large number of flights have been cancelled or delayed, and the airline has increased the cost of short-haul tickets during the easter travel period. This appears to be a strategic move to reduce bookings while they get a handle on their staffing woes and to free up space on flights for passengers affected by earlier cancellations.

At surface level, the price increases come at a terrible time for anyone plotting a last-minute getaway in the coming weeks. Cheaper flights can still be booked with other carriers. However, if your heart is set on flying British Airways, and you have the Avios to spare, you could make great savings by checking for reward availability. Right now is a prime example of why Avios and other air mile programmes can bring huge value to travellers.

TPG has reached out British Airways for comment.

Additional reporting by Jordan Waller.

Featured image by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images.

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