To Hub or not to hub?

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  • Anonymous


    I’ve made my BA status for another year, so was tempted based on comments here to give a competitor ago on a recent NYC trip. I live close to LCY, so the time saved on shorter check-in times and avoiding the x-London jouney means its not *that* much longer.

    The main drive of course was cost. I was quoted £2k WT+ return versus £1.5 J class on LX – so I thought I’d try it.

    Notwithstanding the complete balls up of my outbound journey (Which turned into LHR-GVA-CDG-JFK), which doesn’t make this experience strictly comparable, the stress of tight connections, hanging about in lounges particularly on the way home etc means you’d have to be looking to save quite a bit of money to justify it.

    So how much would you need to save to forsake a direct route to go via a hub? Would my saving make you think of trying it? Or would you hub just for accumulation of status credits, or even just to make sure you are on your fav. airline? Or to avoid an airline?!


    The cost savings would have to be significant, although even then it’s no guarantee for me.

    For example. Monday – Friday LHR – DXB in Eco (travel policy dictates anything less than 8 hours is Eco 🙁 ) is a cool £1500 with BA, yet approx £450 with Emirates…but I find it very difficult to turn my back on BA…especially in Economy where the product is pretty much of a muchness whoever you fly with…plus with BA and my status (I am a lowly silver card holder), I can access the lounge and pre-allocate my seating etc, plus the added possibility of being upgraded.


    Interesting questions Gooner–and by the way..sorry for the “bloke”–I am not aware that you are a “lass”. So back to your questions.
    Well, primarily I would take the direct connection with my fav airline and of course earn miles/status miles. Only if there is a huge difference on savings will I consider an other airline beside my fav airline..but this airline should be in the same airline alliance. Only in very few cases–would I consider to take an airline outside my fav airline and its alliance. For example EK–flying F in the A380 and trying their onboard Spa. Regarding the “hubbing”–well, if it is not that huge amount of time and should always be sensible..eventhough it might only be for the sake of accumalating miles/status miles.

    Main point–as long as it is sensible and you have enough money to waste for….go for it and don’t have any doubts…otherwise you spoil your enthusiasm of enjoying flying.


    GoonerLondon – Would I fly Business with LH for £1.5k with a hub bounce instead of WT+ direct for £2k? – In a heartbeat.
    Airline points etc. are secondary to a decent seat and sleep, and a good price.

    BABenji – Personally, I would think that a £1,050 saving for, as you say, much of a muchness equates to a responsibility on your part to whoever is paying for the ticket to go for the Emirates option; unless you have a Finance Director with deep pockets or have your own £1,050 to donate to the BA pension fund!


    When I looked at the option of travelling LHR-DXB and back with BA in Club World for £2687 or LX via ZRH at £1900, there were a number of considerations to take into account.

    Did I want to get up early to take an earlier flight, requiring a fight with the M25 traffic. What might happen if the outward flight is delayed and the connection missed, I had limited time.

    Coming back did I really want to leave at 0230 arrive in ZRH at 0530 depart about 0900 and get back to LHR 1000 ish, with no chance of a shower and change of clothes.

    Then there is the miles and tier points question. A number of things to weigh up as well as how one would feel a day or so later. In the end one has to think cost against ease of travelling and whether the additional money between the two is worth the investment for an easier journey.


    It’s difficult to compare direct premium economy with indirect business.

    Comparing like with like, say business with business, on my last flight to Singapore (a good 11-12 hours), BA CW non-stop from London was approx £3k and Lufthansa Business indirect was approx £2k. £500 each way will swing it for me to fly indirect. Although, I admit that on the return journey, waking up groggy after a night’s plane sleep, I would have paid quite a lot of money to be landing at Heathrow and straight into a taxi rather than landing at Munich and waiting 2 hours to transfer to another 2 hour flight.

    A transfer at the start of an outward journey seems easier to deal with than a transfer at the end of an inbound journey.

    Of course one could argue that LH Business isn’t the same as BA CW. The single biggest difference is that LH Business is angled lie flat, so really in the above example I’m making two compromises.

    This sort of difference is more obvious in premium economy – BA WT+ is basically economy with a bit more legroom; whereas a product like JAL premium economy is almost like business class without flat beds.

    And as we all know there are hubs and hubs. Transfering between two different terminals at CDG is a bit more wearing than, for example, a transfer somewhere like Munich or, so I’m told, Helsinki, one of the best of the lot.


    This thread is incredibly London-centric – there is a wider world out there, guys!! For those of us in Scotland who do not have the luxury of direct long-haul except to Islamabad, New York and Dubai, the choice is about which transfer hub to choose and what compromises each entails. From GLA and EDI, our choices are:

    One stop via LHR is almost invariably the most expensive in C class. Taking HKG as an example, the choices of B, CX, VS, Z and QF are much of a muchness price-wise and all face, for me, the clincher in terms of inconvenience – the likely pleasure of an hour plus slot delay or taxiway queue.

    EWR is a theoretical option to Asia but the pricing is always horrible and there is the US transfer hassle to face. For points collectors, however, it is Star Alliance all the way…….

    CDG, as righly pointed out, is not a pleasant experience at 05.30 in the morning. AF C class is OK, no more.

    Schipol is great for transferring and one of the best. KL World Business, as regularly noted, is not really up to the competition against any criteria. It is usually the cheapest by some margin.

    Frankfurt works well and is usually a good option and, notwithstanding the middle of the road C product, is usually a good price as well, if you can get a seat – its well patronised on that route.

    DXB means an unpleasant, middle of the night bus transfer (up to 20 minutes) through the desert (or so it seems) to join massive security queues. Outbound to HKG, the second leg that connects with the GLA flight also involves a stop in BKK so the whole experience is not conducive to sleep.

    Then there are LX or TG two stop options………..

    So how do you decide? I tend to opt for price and convenience over comfort and KLM win out. However, probably moving to London is the best practical option for us Scots but that is a compromise any sane person would consider many steps too far…………


    Dear all,

    A fair amount of readers of this forum is UK based, and have perhaps LHR has home airport. This means more direct options, and different airlines to consider. Many have spotted the “revenue management issue” that home carriers with local brand name and direct routes can charge more.

    However, from many decent sized communities and cities around Europe and the UK, there is no choice but to connect. My home airports are Stockholm-Arlanda and occasionally the small Stockholm-Bromma (serviced by Brussels Airlines). From Stockholm, there are direct routes to EWR (SK, CO), ORD (SK), BKK (TG), PKK (CA) plus seasonal service to JFK (DL) and PHL (US). Choices are limited.

    Hence, I have no choice. I tend to use Star Alliance carriers LH, LX, OS, and SK with connections in FRA/MUC, ZRH, VIE, and CPH. I tend to prefer MUC, ZRH, and VIE. I have started to use BA more, but find the transfer process at T5 cumbersome to say the least. I have been put off by AF and CDG, and sadly by KLM due to their inferior European product.

    Would I fly more direct routes if they were available? Well it depends on timing, price, service etc. Connections do not bother me too much as I am easily entertained by my iPod and my stack of the Economist. My biggest gripe (like most others) is when returning home from a US or Asian trip early in the morning to a hub, and then wait another 4-5 hours until getting home. Then I always wish I was on a direct flight.


    The combination of airline and hub is a tricky one to get right. 2 hours in Amsterdam doesn’t make up for half a day on KLM.

    If I was offered two connecting flights in Suites on SG interrupted by a transfer in Singapore I wouldn’t grumble.


    Tom – this thread is unapologetically London centric (or indeed any Hub city which has lots of choice of direct options) ‘cause that’s where I live see? I’m not the BBC with a remit to treat the regions as equals, so I’m not so interested in which hub is best, because all sorts of things come into play, which are less relevant for me. As you say living in remoter parts has its benefits but also its drawbacks. Which is why so many Scots appear to be living ‘down south’ perhaps? Or are they all mad as cheese?

    I’ll indulge you a little though – I have hubbed to get to Scotland a few times, and the key driver (for me) here is how many short haul connections are available to make the long haul. If there are only a few flights to Scotland a day, chances are you are going to be sitting in the lounge for a couple of hours after a long-haul flight. From my experience and other contributors, this seems to be the worse part of hubbing – the last wait before you finally get home. And if you miss your connection, that couple of hours can turn into several. That’s why I assume LHR is able to still charge Scots a premium because you wont wait much longer than an hour for your next connection. For me that outweighs the lack of C class domestically, but like my London centred problem, I could be tempted for savings – but they would have to be significant. Again though, you lobbed in a few pejorative LHR statements which are more perception based that reality as things are at the moment. LHR T5 is very good for Scotland to Long haul connections and the runway queues seem to be factored into the timetable these days. I fly weekly to Glasgow and /or Edinburgh and the flights have been 90% on time, granted though when LHR has problems, domestic flights are the ones that suffer most. I understand though that, for everyone, perception is reality.

    But to return to the point – I was specifically interested in the trade off between a direct flight (which invariably costs more, but could be with a carrier you care less for) versus a hub (which will cost less, and might let you fly in a class you couldn’t normally afford, or with a carrier you really like- but with all the inconvenience and stress that might entail)

    My LX example meant a saving of £500 plus upgrade to C class. Would I do it again? It’s by no means certain. I had major hassle on the outbound with missed connections and cancelled flights AND lost luggage (and they’ve still not responded to my letter despite faxing it and emailing twice), and I share the loathing of the home bound stopover.

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