Jun302017

International Ticketing Strategy for transit city long layovers

This article looks at British Airways AARP discount tickets and its limitations for booking transit city long layovers more easily found through Google Flights and Momondo.com searches.

After playing around the past couple days with British Airways AARP member discounts, I have learned some of the limitations for these discount tickets to Europe.

No age restriction to join AARP for $12 and get a British Airways discount of $65 off economy ticket and $130 off Premium economy tickets to Europe for travel in 2017 to March 2018.

After a couple hundred airfare searches for SFO/SJC/OAK to Oslo, Stockholm, Bergen and Copenhagen, I found lowest ticket prices were generally British Airways AARP discounts at $376 to $425 for San Jose or San Francisco to Stockholm or Oslo. Simple itineraries beat the low fares on Momondo.com and Google Flights.

But the specific itineraries and routings I really want were found through Google Flights at $455 to $490 (note $490 is $65 more than $425 AARP discount ticket prices). Momondo.com got some prices down to $435-$490.

There is no best website for a great deal after extensive comparisons of ticket options on Google Flights, Momondo meta-search and British Airways $65 AARP discount site on economy tickets.

I found unique  low fare ticket itineraries with each site that I could not replicate on the other two sites for the same low price.

Overnight Transit Tickets for visiting extra cities on one ticket

As a general rule, flights with overnight transit layovers in an intermediary city like London, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki were generally not an option most of the time through the British Airways AARP special booking site for the $65 discount rates.

Overnight transit stops up to 24 hours at an intermediate city to your destination on international travel are frequently permitted at no additional charge. This ticketing strategy offers opportunities to see another city or even two at only the cost of transportation and a hotel.

Ideal to me is to locate a ticket where I will arrive in a city between 12 noon and 4pm and leave the next day between 10am and 4pm. My aim is to get as close to 24 hours on a transit layover as possible to make the hotel and transportation expense worthwhile for a significant sightseeing or entertainment excursion.

The main point to share here is I found some highly creative, long transit layovers in different cities for California to Scandinavia routes through Google Flights (best) and Momondo.com.

Many itineraries I found on Google Flights did not appear on Momondo.com, even with significant filtering. But, Momondo.com was quite useful in pointing out some of the routings possible with a round trip ticket San Francisco or San Jose to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo and Bergen.

San Francisco Bay Area to Scandinavia tickets with long transit layovers.

Here are examples of potential routings I uncovered in my searches for a cheap ticket to Europe in Sep/Oct.

Commonly the least expensive tickets for California to Europe on a major alliance airline are flights to Stockholm or Gothenburg, Sweden; Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger in Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark.

British Airways tickets from San Francisco SFO, San Jose SJC and Oakland OAK are as low as $378 round trip with many tickets $410 to $450 round trip using the AARP $65 discount.

British Airways SFO – Oslo, Norway

AARP discount ticket with 19 hr. 20 min. London overnight transit layover

San Francisco SFO – Helsinki, Finland HEL – Oslo, Norway – London LHR (19 hr overnight) – San Francisco SFO

$411.02 round trip Tue Sep 5 – Mon Sep 18

SFO-OSL $411 BA Sep5-18

Oneworld Alliance partner Finnair offers nonstop SFO – Helsinki flights, however, I could only find the Finnair option on flights in August and September.

There is the option of planning a transit layover in Helsinki on some dates.

Momondo.com $484 Finnair/British Airways San Francisco to Bergen, Norway with overnight transit layovers in Helsinki and London.

SFO-BGO $484-ota AY HELxLHRx

Kiss&Fly $484 round trip SFO-BGO Momondo.com link.

Sun Sep 10 7:10pm  depart San Francisco – Helsinki, Finland

Mon Sep 11 3:50pm  arrive Helsinki, Finland

*** Helsinki, Finland Mon Sep 11 4pm – Tue Sep 12 7:55am for 16 hr. overnight transit layover.

Tue Sep 12  7:55am depart Helsinki HEL – Stockholm Arlanda ARN arrive 7:55am (one hour time zone change).

Tue Sep 12  10:00am depart Stockholm ARN – Bergen, Norway BGO arrive 11:20am

Thu Sep 21  1:35pm depart Bergen BGO – London LHR arrive 2:45pm

*** London Thu Sep 21 2:45 pm – Fri Sep 22 11:25 am for 20 hr. 40 min overnight transit layover.

Fri Sep 22 11:25am depart London LHR – San Francisco SFO arrive 2:20pm.


SkyTeam and Star Alliance airlines have overnight transit layover opportunities too.

Playing around with different routings, looking for itineraries with 30+ and even 50+ hours one way is a fun challenge, if you have the time to take your time getting to the final ticketed destination.

I have a free hotel night available at Marriott O’Hare I won for $30 in an auction. Here is one overnight in Chicago ticket I found with potential for redeeming that free night.

Chicago and Vancouver overnight on San Jose to Oslo ticket.

San Jose SJC to Oslo, Norway OSL Thu Sep 28 – Fri Oct 13

Momondo.com search

TravelMerry.com $433 round trip

United Airlines/Star Alliance

SJC-OSL $433 UA-ota Sep28Oct 13

Thu Sep 28 1:46pm San Jose SJC – Chicago ORD

***22.5 hr overnight transit in Chicago Thu 7:55pm – Fri 6:20pm.

Fri Sep 29 6:20pm Chicago ORD – London LHR arrive 8:30am Sat Sep 30.

Sat Sep 30 depart 10:20 am London LHR – Oslo OSL arrive 1:30pm.

Fri Oct 13 10:00am Oslo OSL – Munich MUC arrive 12:15pm

Fri Oct 13 3:25pm Munich MUC – Vancouver YVR 4:55pm

***21.5 hr overnight transit layover in Vancouver Fri 4:55pm – Sat 2:30pm.



About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Rick, have you ever actually booked a ticket that you found via Momondo? I’m curious because I tried to use it once and was very nervous about the actual booking website it pointed me to.
    IIRC, it went like this: I saw a deal on SecretFlying, which pointed me to Momondo. Momondo then pointed me to what I think was a foreign website (maybe in India). And when I researched that foreign company, there were loads of complaints.
    My impression was that Momondo was pointing to these foreign sites and purchasing the tickets in another country.
    Do you have first-hand knowledge? Or maybe your readers do???

  2. Hi Ric,

    Just curious, are you searching for specific dates or days or are you searching for the cheapest days (flexible travel dates)?

  3. @bluecat – I have purchased tickets through Momondo.com links with TravelMerry.com and Kiss&Fly.com online travel agencies in the past year.

    Both tickets were fine and better prices and routings than I would have otherwise purchased through the airline websites.

    Main thing I do is immediately register my flights with the airline(s) I am flying, enter my frequent flyer numbers, select seats and pay for bags online, if necessary.

    In London LHR last year I overheard an irate guy who had purchased his ticket from Expedia to arrive at the airport and learn the flight was canceled. The United agent told him customers should always register their flights booked through on online travel agency with the airline in order to receive updates from the airline.

  4. Jeannine – In this article I was selecting specific dates around TBEX Ireland, but in general, selecting the low fare dates for flights. Aegean Airlines tickets are commonly $150 to $200 on dates surrounding $80 ticket prices for some routes.

    Low fare flights are my primary objective for dates of travel.

    As far as my trip, I can travel anytime from September through November for 10 to 15 days in Europe. Marriott Monaco is the only set destination.

Comments are closed.