Vancouver to London, England (UK) | How To Get Flight Deals
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The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flights From Vancouver to London, England (UK)
|There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on airfares from Vancouver to London. They don't. |
They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on flights to London.
This guide will remove the noise and show you what those sources are, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best deal.
What are the unique sources of prices on flights from Vancouver to London, England (UK)?
Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines
There are 15 major airlines that offer fares from Vancouver to London, and they are: Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Finnair, Iberia, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
How many airports does London have?
From Vancouver, there are 2 airports that people commonly fly into and out of when traveling to London, England.
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- London Gatwick (LGW)
There's also London City Airport (LCY), but very few airlines use it, and flights to LCY tend to be very expensive. So you really only need to be aware of London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick (LGW). Both airports have good public transportation options to London's city center.
Most of the major airlines listed above use London Heathrow (LHR), except Aer Lingus. It's usually only certain charter airlines that fly from Vancouver to London Gatwick (LGW), and we'll be discussing this airport later in 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines'. The charter airlines can often be the cheapest (but with certain tradeoffs), so be sure to read that section.
Where should I look to get the best flight deals to London from Vancouver?
All you need to do is search all the major airlines, preferably at once. My current favorite way to do this would be using Google Flights Explorer because you can just enter 'London (all airports)' into the 'To' box, and see current airfares from all the major airlines, to all of London's airports, at one time. Not to mention how easy it is to browse through different date combinations.
Even if you're planning to go for a longer date range than Google Flight Explorer supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of what the typical bottom price is right now, and which airline(s) it can be found on. Use it as a starting point, and then use a tool with more precise search options, such as...
My second favorite way would be to search using Kayak. It has all the sort and filter options I need, and searches all major airlines. Click on 'Make my dates flexible' and set it to '+/- 3 days'. You may be surprised how often being a little flexible with your dates can result in a better price.
Similar to using Google Flight Explorer, in the 'To' box on Kayak, use 'London, United Kingdom - All Airports (LON)' as your destination, to make sure you search all of London's major airports.
With any decent travel search engine, if you use the 3 letter code LON you will be searching flights to all London airports. You can also click on 'airport map' right underneath the 'To' box, to pick and choose which airports you want to search.
What about the thousands of other vacation sites that have airfares to London?
This is the noise. There is no shortage of travel sites or brands trying to convince you that they have the cheapest flights from Vancouver to London. The truth is though, there's only one unique source of prices that they're gathering their prices from, and that's the major airlines themselves. They can't offer a lower price than the airline itself, as there's already virtually no markup.
There's a few reasons why I think travellers waste an enormous amount of time checking multiple websites, hoping for a better deal than the one they already found (studies show it to be an average of 22 different sites over 10 periods of research!). The first reason is just human nature. We all want to compare prices and make sure we're getting the best deal.
But I think the biggest reason is simply the noise of travel marketing. With so many travel sites and brands competing for your attention, all hoping you'll book through them, combined with the fact that not one of them will *ever* admit to you that their source of prices is the same as everyone else, it's little wonder Vancouver travelers waste so much time searching.
What about searching the airline's website directly?
There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's usually just a lot easier to search all of the airlines at once, with a better interface using a good search tool. It's amazing how poor many of the airline's search interfaces are. The fares found on any half-decent search engine will be the same as the fares found on the airline's own website.
One thing you can do is just use a search tool to search all the airlines at once, and then go to the airline's own site to book it once you've figured out exactly which flight you want, and what the price is.
Another thing to be aware of is that the more sophisticated travel search engines can combine flights from multiple airlines to find cheaper options, especially on international flights, that you won't find on the airline's website.
What about a Vancouver travel agency or independent travel agent?
They're seeing the same prices you are. Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' on top of the airfare price, for their time. As there's virtually no markup on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.
When should I book my flight to get the best price?
This is never an easy question to answer, as airfares are not 100% predictable. Airlines start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see. If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.
How long a person can wait it out in hopes of a better price is a personal decision. I am usually not afraid to watch prices on the major airlines up to about 8 weeks before departure in hopes of a better price without fear of the price permanently rising. But everyone has a different tolerance for risk.
What about last minute deals?
Last minute airfare deals to London on the major airlines don't really exist. Typical of most airfares on the major airlines, as you get fairly close to the departure date, if the airline has done their job correctly, and filled most of the seats on the plane, they feel the last remaining seats become more valuable, and often decide to permanently raise the price.
But later on, under 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines', we'll be taking a look at last minute fare possibilities, which are more common on the charter airlines than on the major airlines.
What's a decent seat price to London on the major airlines?
From Vancouver, flights to London on the major airlines tend to bottom out around $1100 - $1200 roundtrip after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year. And note that we're talking about the major airlines here. Charter flights can be cheaper, as we'll see later on under 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines'.
Airfare prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to London (such as dates when many people in Vancouver have holiday time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.
What about one way flights to London?
One way flights to London on the major airlines can be a terrible deal. They can even be more expensive than a roundtrip flight! This is often the case with international flights overseas on the major airlines, unlike flights to destinations within Canada and the U.S. where prices are generally 50-60% of the roundtrip cost.
To get a good one-way price from Vancouver to London, you'll likely need to look at 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines'.
What about direct (non-stop) flights to London from Vancouver?
From Vancouver, the major airlines that fly non-stop (direct) to London are: Air Canada, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. The total flight time is just over 9 hours each way.
You'll also sometimes see non-stop fares sold by Finnair, but the flights are actually operated by British Airways. This is called a codeshare in the world of travel. Delta also sells non-stop fares, with the flights actually being operated by Virgin Atlantic. The situation is the same for Lufthansa non-stop fares, which are flights actually operated by Air Canada.
All of these airlines fly in and out of London Heathrow (LHR). Later on, we'll look at the charter airlines, who use London Gatwick (LGW).
The distance from Vancouver to London, England is 7,596 km (4,747 miles).
The time difference between Vancouver and London is 8 hours. London is 8 hours ahead of Vancouver.
What about a multi-city flight? Such as into London and then out of another city in Europe?
Searching for multi-city flights in travel is still a bit of a pain. Even Google Explorer currently can't handle it, as there's too many possible combinations. I'm sure eventually someone (likely Google) will put enough processing power behind it and create something useful for searching multi-city fares.
But for now, you're stuck with searching one departure date at a time when it comes to multi-city fares and experimenting with different destination combinations. Most of the decent travel sites will offer a multi-city option (it should be right next to 'one-way' and 'round-trip').
Kayak would be my preferred option here. Just click on the 'multi-city' option and in the first box, enter in Vancouver (YVR) to London (LON), or whatever airport you want to fly into, and then in the second box, enter Barcelona (BCN) to Vancouver, or whatever airport you want to fly out of.
You never really know what you're going to get with a multi-city fare. From Vancouver to Europe, it can often be around the same price as a typical roundtrip fare to the same destinations (or an average of the two). Sometimes it can be slightly more. In rare cases it can even be cheaper. Of course, you're still left with figuring out the cost of getting between the two airports.
One little trick I've learned with Kayak is to keep it on the 'roundtrip' option, and make your dates flexible (3 days before and after). And then in the 'To' box, enter up to a maximum of 4 destinations, using the 3 letter airport codes, separated by commas.
For example, you could enter: LON, BCN, PAR, FRA - to search multi-city flight combinations to London, Barcelona, Paris, and Frankfurt.
This will search flights to all 4 of these popular European cities at once, and look for cheap multi-city combinations into one city and out of another. Many of the results will just be the typical roundtrip flights, but when you scroll down the results, look for the airport codes that are highlighted in pink. These are the flights involving two different cities.
To use this method effectively, you need to get to know the 3 letter airport codes for the destinations you're interested in. Just Google the name of the city, followed by 'airport code' and you should be able to find it quite easily. (Google usually shows it at the top, or on the right hand side of the page).
Is it possible to get flights with a free stopover in Europe?
Yes, KLM usually allows you to book a flight with a free stopover in Amsterdam. Air France usually offers a free stopover in Paris. You may wish to read the guide: Vancouver to Europe | How To Get Free Stopovers.
Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines
There are two charter airlines that offer fares from Vancouver to London: Air Transat and Condor. Air Transat flies non-stop from Vancouver to London Gatwick (LGW), while Condor offers connecting flights to London Heathrow (LHR) via their hub in Frankfurt.
Where should I look to get the best deal on London, UK flights?
In 'Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines', I showed you how to search the major airlines in the best way possible. Those same techniques will cover the latest charter fares on Air Transat as well, as they are usually included in the common search engines. Condor's fares however, are not always included in the common search engines.
So in addition to a search using Google Flights Explorer or Kayak, like I mentioned earlier in the guide under 'Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines', I would also suggest doing the following:
- Prices on Air Transat's own site, www.AirTransat.ca, on rare occasion can be different than what is listed in the common search engines. It's usually worth a separate search. After searching, hit the 'Flexible Dates' tab to make it a little easier to see what's available.
- Canadian Affair is just a re-seller of Air Transat flights. On rare occasions though, I've noticed their prices can be cheaper than what is available through the common search engines or through the AirTransat.ca website. It can be worth searching Canadian Affair separately.
Some people make the mistake of thinking Canadian Affair is an airline. It's just another website that sells Air Transat airfares, and they are in fact owned by Transat A.T. Inc., the same company that owns the airline.
- their airfares are often not included in the major search engines.
This will cover all your bases as far as charter airfares between Vancouver and London are concerned.
What about the thousands of other sites that have charter airfares to London?
This is the noise. There are *many* travel sites and brands that re-sell Air Transat's charter airfares to London. Most of them are based in Canada. You may already be familiar with some of the sites & brands that spend the most on advertising, such as:
|RedTag||iTravel2000||Flight Network||Sell Off Vacations||Tripcentral|
|Flight Centre||Signature Vacations||Sears Travel||Escapes||Marlin Travel|
This is by no means a complete list of all the Canadian-based travel sites. The only important thing you need to know as someone searching for the best flight deal from Vancouver to London is that they are all retrieving their prices from the same source, and all trying to sell you the exact same flights at the exact same prices.
One site or brand can't offer a lower price than their competition, as there is virtually no price markup on flights, and they can't legally change the airfare prices themselves anyways.
In other words, it is a huge waste of your valuable time to check any more than one of the Canadian-based travel sites. (And if you've checked out prices using the search engines and websites I already mentioned, it's a waste of time to check any of them, as those searches already cover the current charter airfares to London).
A large number of Canadian travellers have been fooled into thinking they are comparison shopping, since no travel site or brand will ever admit that their prices are identical to their competition.
When should I book to get the best price on charter airlines?
The advice I gave in Unique Source #1, about 'when to book' on the major airlines applies to charter flights as well. The one big difference though, is that there is a greater possibility of charter airlines offering a significant price drop around 4-6 weeks before departure (sometimes even less). The major airlines pretty much never do this, so you can typically 'wait it out' longer when watching charter airfares than when watching fares on the major airlines.
Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that a charter airline will drop their price, as it depends on whether or not they end up with some seats that they couldn't sell, which is an unpredictable event.
What are the drawbacks to flying with the charter airlines?
Compared to flying with one of the major airlines, the biggest drawbacks to the charter airlines are usually:
- The seats are more cramped
- No seat-back entertainment (Air Transat is working on upgrading their fleet to offer this)
- If something happens with your plane (cancellation, delay, etc) or flight plans, the charter airlines probably won't be able to do anything for you, since the number of flights they have is limited. Contrast that to the major airlines who typically have more flights on a regular basis, and might be able to do something about it.
What about one way flights to London on the charter airlines?
On Air Transat or Condor you can usually find one way flights to London for about 50-60% of the cost of a typical roundtrip flight. You may recall reading earlier in the guide that the major airlines usually have terrible one-way prices on international flights overseas. Charter flights can be of great benefit here.
What about non-stop (direct) flights to London with the charter airlines?
From Vancouver, Air Transat flies non-stop (direct) into London Gatwick (LGW), and the flight takes just over 9 hours each way. All of Condor's flights have a stopover at their main hub in Frankfurt, and then offer connecting service to London Heathrow (LHR).
What about a multi-city flight on the charter airlines? Into London and out of somewhere else in Europe?
The advice I gave about multi-city flights in 'Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines' applies here as well. Air Transat can be a good one to look at, as they sometimes drop the prices on their flights from Europe to Vancouver (typically Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Manchester, and Paris are your only options).
One thing about the charter airlines is that you can look for the cheapest one-way flight into a European city on one charter airline, and then look for the cheapest one-way flight back home from a different European city (either on the same airline, or a different charter airline) and have it possibly work out to a great price. This is a strategy that wouldn't really work on the major airlines, since their one-way fares are horribly expensive.
For example, you could look for a good one way price from Vancouver to London on Air Transat, and purchase a separate one way ticket from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Condor. Or vice versa.
What about finding value priced flights to somewhere else in Europe, and then finding a cheap flight to London from there?
You may want to read the guide: Vancouver to Europe | How To Get The Best Flight Deals, which contains ideas about which cities are typically the cheapest to fly into, to see if this would save you any money.
Typically though, London is already one of the cheapest European cities to get to from Vancouver, so combining a flight to another European city with a flight to London is not *usually* likely to work out to a lower price overall.
What about low-cost flights to London from U.S. airports within driving distance of Vancouver?
If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. airports within driving distance of Vancouver, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from a U.S. airport to London that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than from Vancouver.
How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're flying from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each airport, to be worth the drive.
From Bellingham (BLI)
I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from Bellingham to London that's at least $200 less per person than a flight from Vancouver.
It could happen, although usually, flight prices from Bellingham to London are more expensive than from Vancouver, as Bellingham Airport's strength is serving domestic U.S. destinations.
From Seattle (SEA)
I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from Seattle to London that's at least $350 less per person than a flight from Vancouver.
It can definitely happen, with Seattle being a major U.S. airport with many airlines. IcelandAir can be an interesting one to watch, as they can sometimes have great prices to London via their hub in Reykjavik (KEF) and you can usually get a free stopover.
I think I've found a great deal on a flight to London, England!
Excellent! Please share it with your fellow Vancouver travel lovers, they will appreciate it and thank you for it! You can post it in the YVR Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Vancouver are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.
Why should I trust this Vancouver guide to London travel?
|The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other. |
The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so people can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.
But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YYC Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!
I think I have some info that could help improve the London flight guide!
Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.
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