I have recently been trying to plan a school trip to New York. As a geography teacher, I firmly believe in the positive benefits of a field trip and how travel can broaden peoples’ mind sets.
Sadly it was not possible to make it happen this time, but I am hoping that a trip closer to home and then New York the year after will work with the wider school calendar. However, in doing so I had my first experience of planning group travel with British Airways.
The same booking horizon exists, where seats are released 355 days prior to departure, but the two things that are different are the payment schedule and the price.
I was able to phone up and hold 20 seats on a flight at about T-340 days. In order to keep them, I would have needed to pay a £20 per seat deposit at the beginning of May, 8 weeks after putting them on hold. The balance would be due about 8 weeks before, with the possibility of confirming names of travellers only 2 weeks before departure. This is tremendous flexibility and fantastic payment opportunities.
The second interesting thing was the price. I was quoted return fares LHR – JFK of £381.25 per person. Of that, £301.25 was the taxes and charges; making the fare component £80 per person! This is incredible; tickets on the same flight at BA.com were £681.25 – a fare component of £380 per person. The taxes and APD are the same, but you can look to reduce them somewhat as I discussed in this article.
Whilst this was for a school trip, there is no requirement for it to be so; anyone can book a group fare. For Economy, you need 10+ passengers; Business is seven and First is four passengers, although I don’t know how the cost would change. Say you decided that you were going to organise a family outing to New York from London. 10 seats with a group booking would cost you £3812.50 and you wouldn’t have to pay anything until 8 weeks out. Booking only 6 tickets on BA.com which were not flexible and required payment upfront would cost you £4087.50.
If you are booking for a larger number, it could certainly work out a lot cheaper to book with a group tariff. I hope to be able to go through with a group booking in the future and will, of course, report on it here when I do.
Have you used a BA group booking?