DEN-GVA (part 1)

Despite the fun in Lanzarote, I’m still looking to use my Mountain Collective pass at Chamonix, and for that semi-elusive Denver to Geneva deal. I wrote the following in August.

British Airways runs sales from Denver to connections out of London Heathrow from time to time — this is what spurred my Canary Islands trip last year. I would love to know what spurs such deep discounts — one in particular was immediately after the Brexit vote, for example. If it’s just winter excess capacity, why doesn’t BA replace its 747 to Denver during those months with a smaller plane? Maybe the logistics are too difficult.

At the time, I was tempted by Denver to Geneva, Switzerland, with one stop at LHR for about $450. I use the Mountain Collective Pass for skiing (and highly recommend it), which includes two days of “Le Pass” at Chamonix. “Cham” is only a few hours by bus from Geneva, and “voila” (as they say in France), let the fondue flow. Instead, I let the opportunity pass, and this winter I have been looking to see if they’ll run similar deals.

So far, it has been frustrating. DEN-LHR is, again, astonishingly cheap — I can get a R/T direct flight on BA for $490 in Feb/March, or one stop on Iceland air for $340. It’s a race to the bottom between BA’s decrepit 747 flying bus and Icelandair’s decrepit 757 flying buses — who will win? Plus, I still have some leftover Avios points on BA that would drop their flight to $270.

However, the lowest BA one-stop connection from Heathrow’s lovely Terminal 3 (?) to GVA during this time period is over $900 (including a doable-but-irritating airport transfer to Gatwick) and the best Google flights can offer is about $750 on a two-stop Newark/Dublin marathon on United and Aer Lingus — no thanks.

A few obvious options:

  • First, BA will probably panic again and offer better fares.
  • What about separate tickets? Flights from LHR to GVA are between $150–180 on Swiss, BA, etc. This Tripadvisor forum suggests that’s a bad idea, and basically impossible with luggage (I especially liked esteemed commentator “ibgardyloo” — 6,321 posts! — describing it all as all potentially going “pear-shaped”). However, I’d like to take a bag of my ski stuff, and given that I live near plenty of good skiing, I’m not desperate to try separate tickets.
  • -I’ve been playing around with Skiplagged. They say I can get there for $590 R/T by…deep breath:

First a leg on everyone’s favorite, Spirit Airlines, to the very-loud and bright Las Vegas McCarran for a few hours, before boarding a Norwegian Air Shuttle flight to Copenhagen. I’d then have an 18-hour stay there before boarding a luxurious easyJet for GVA. On the way back, I would take the easyJet to Stockholm instead, have a few hours, then Norwegian to Los Angeles, and after another few hours (and potentially collapsing from exhaustion) join Spirit for the last leg to Denver.

I mean, this all sounds totally legit, right? And I can purchase all the tickets at Kiwi.com, which, like separate tickets through LHR, does not appear highly regarded by the Tripadvisors. As this would only save me about $200 over the one-stop BA flight, a night in Copenhagen and potential madness hardly seems worth it. However, someday I’m going to test all this by buying a crazy six-separate-ticket extravaganza from a potentially-dubious ticket aggregator just to see what happens — stay tuned.

  • Another option would be to just take the flight to LHR and enjoy a scenic train ride across rural France to Geneva. This looks to cost about $200, but would eat up a substantial portion of my travel time.
  • Back to that $900 BA deal, the potential $250 surcharge simply to avoid buying separate tickets is a potential dealbreaker. I ran searches on Hipmunk, BA’s site, and a few others, but was unable to find much else. One that did jump out at me was $840 for United to Dulles, connecting to GVA, returning on Lufthansa with one stop in Munich. Booking was on Vayama, which, again, the Tripadvisors dislike (I’m sensing a trend here).