Christmas travel in the UK is similar to Thanksgiving in the US and Chinese New Year in Asia – really busy! In London, offices close up a couple of days before that signals the mass exodus which clogs up the roads and makes the airports less than pleasant places to be, and is sometimes compounded by poor weather.
It is also really expensive to travel, understandably so given the demand. My parents live in the north of Scotland and we like to visit them for a week every other year over the festive period. Thanks to the introduction of the Heathrow – Inverness link, there is now an option to fly on BA. The other direct option was to fly with easyJet from Luton or Gatwick. As I found out when I took my trip up to Aberdeen earlier in the summer, the transport links to Gatwick are not the most reliable. I would also not want to have to be driving across London and down to Gatwick at Christmas.
The flights from Luton up to Inverness are actually but very civilised times. The outbound trip to parts at around about noon, and the return about 2 PM. This leaves plenty of time either side to get to and from home in daylight which is particularly welcome in the winter. The price, including a bag each, was over £360, but this didnt include the cost of parking the car for the duration.
Compare this to the BA flights, whcih comes out at almost £650.
Even with the perks of being a silver executive club member, like the fast track security, the extra bag and lounge access, not to mention collecting some more Avios and tier points, this price differential is far too big to justify paying a premium. This is one of those times when be able to get a reward flight saver would be fantastic value, however these have all sold out. There was an option to use Avios as part pay. I could have spent 70,000 Avios in return for a £400 reduction in the fee but I’m sure I can make more exciting use of them.
I did both a look at flying up to Aberdeen and then hiring a car. Whilst there were award flights available the combination of flight plus car and the added hassle was too much for me.
In the end, we chose the sleeper train as is something that will be very exciting and given that it is an overnight journey, we will be able to maximise our time in the Highlands. It also worked out cheapest as we can get to Euston on the Tube and there is no baggage limit meaning we can take lots of presents for the family. We even managed to save over £150 on the cost of the tickets – find out how we did it here!