Sure you love my witty remarks, casual banter and frequent flier guidance but let’s be honest no one loves anything more than a steal of a deal and thankfully, I’ve shown you quite a few. One element to many of the greatest deals is a technique known as “throwaway” ticketing. Throwaway ticketing is when you buy a ticket with intent to skip out on one of the legs of your journey, usually the last one, in an effort to save money versus just buying a standard ticket from your home city. By leaving from an inconvenient city and transiting through your actual home city you can often find flights for half or less. On the way home you transit through your real home city and simply hop off without continuing to the last city which activated the deal. Like strawberries in the summer it’s been an incredible season for throwaway ticketing with British Airways. Apparently the airline wants to shut down the strawberry fields…. forever.

a person sitting in a chair on an airplane

It’s been discussed (and leaked) by several high level sources that British Airways are now proactively targeting obscure itineraries primed for throwaway ticketing, sort of. This practice is nothing new and no one has ever really been punished but the severity and aggression of the pursuit are newsworthy. The obvious aim in doing so is to strip Executive Club members found intentionally skipping the final segment in these deals of frequent flier miles, tier points and possibly even introducing fines. I’ve highlighted some truly unreal British Airways deals departing from both Dublin and Germany in which you fly back to London and then fly onward to an incredible far off destination like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo or Singapore for a fraction of the cost making even business class possible. Whereas departing from London you’d be hard pressed to ever find business class for under £3000, departing from one of these other cities often found fares lower than £1000 round trip for business class while still flying through London both ways. Go figure. Why not just offer compelling fares all over? Of course I am going to blow a few miles and a couple hours to save £2,000 plus when available. On the way home, when arriving at Heathrow passengers simply “hop off” without continuing to the deal city, namely Munich or Dusseldorf in Germany or Dublin thus allowing people not actually living in or from these cities to reap the rewards of competition without the final hassle of arriving there on return. With fair reason, British Airways doesn’t like this practice and it’s no longer being swept under the rug or warned about, they mean business and they aim to shut those fliers down.

a woman talking on a telephone

As you could well imagine combing through every ticket purchase with the aim of turning strawberries into sh*t is hard work and the odds are on our side. It’s virtually impossible to prove that I intentionally skipped a leg and therefore any business related change to plans more than justifies your “change”. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to stop you, hassle you or punish you and with that in mind, when possible it’s always safest to take your last leg. SO what are they going after specifically? British Airways are specifically targeting flights where the last leg is booked for a much later date than the beginning of the return segment. In the example of Dublin to Hong Kong. If you booked Dublin to Hong Kong on the 18th of August and the return from Hong Kong to London on the 28th of August with the final leg London to Dublin taking place on the 29th of December, your itinerary will be flagged and it’s all but guaranteed they will try to void your rewards. If you keep the last “Dublin” leg on the same day you return to London, it would be much harder to prove that you are intentionally deceiving and therefore are much more likely to receive your due miles and of course the massively hailed tier points that go along with them….

a close-up of a seat

This is just fair warning. When you pay for a flight, especially one in business class you deserve your miles and elite qualifying points. It’s a shame that British Airways is trying to weed these itineraries out and frankly they have no way of being “right”, it doesn’t mean they won’t do something wrong. If you book a throwaway be sure to keep the last leg in line with your return and be prepared to offer up an excuse if questioned. Worst case, just take the final flight. Considering you need just 4,500 avios to get to one of these cities its a small price to pay for thousands in savings. Strawberry fields forever.

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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