Making Brussels Interesting – with TravelMagic and Brussels Airlines
- Travel? TravelMagic! (THIS SECTION)
- Saturday Morning fun and games
- SN2050 Birmingham Airport to Brussels National Airport
- TravelMagic overview
- The Pantone Hotel
- A Day in Brussels
- Back to Brussels Airport
- SN2047 Brussels National Airport to Birmingham Airport
From super big planes to things with propellers. Welcome to another GhettoIFE trip report in which I’m going to Europe After the excitement of missing a flight, and flying A380s, it’s time for something a lot smaller over a similar distance, as I go to Belgium and Brussels for a weekend – and also go to meet fellow frequent flyers at TravelMagic.
My usual rules apply on this trip report – so for those of you who are aghast at the thought of bad grammar, please head to http://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2012/03/18/blog-admin-a-message-to-the-grammar-checkers-out-there/ for an explanation of why my grammar may not be up to others high standards.
I was contemplating the TravelMagic conference for some time when Lucky announced he was speaking. As I dug around a bit, more I found some more of my fellow Boarding Area bloggers would be there too.
As I haven’t seen some of them for some time (since BAcon and before that), I decided that I would attend too – mainly to be social and catch up whilst learning what is going on in the European miles game.
Now, Birmingham to Brussels isn’t that far in real terms – 288 miles as the crow flies. However, there are multiple ways to crack the nut of getting there:
- Flying from Birmingham
- Flying from Elsewhere
Lets cut the coach out-of-the-way straight away. There is no way in hell I will ever do that again (regular readers know why, inquisitive minds might want to look at Multi-Modal Mayhem http://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2011/09/25/trip-report-multi-modal-mayhem-back-to-toronto-with-a-multi-modal-bevvy-of-madness-with-eurolines-brussels-airlines-air-canada-and-lufthansa/ , on why I’d rather find another method).
Eurostar is a VERY tempting option – with centre-to-centre travel, and some reasonable fares – however (and this is a big however), its centre of London to centre of Brussels… and living in Birmingham adds major travel costs – and in some cases, time as well (those of you who have tried to travel at peak in the UK and trying to find cheap train ticket will understand).
So we’re down to flying from London or Birmingham. I decided to try Birmingham first (as flying from London involves… well, going to London), and I thought I’d try to give my local airport some business.
This turned out to be more interesting than I wanted it to be, as the Saturday Night Away Rule and High Single Fares were alive and well with Brussels Airlines direct flight (and if I was blunt – KLM, Lufthansa were showing high, with FlyBe and Ryanair not serving Brussels).
Yes, that’s £460 Return. This price of no competition and being the only operator on a route when the Saturday rule is in effect can be detrimental on the wallet (for that price, I can fly across the pond).
Adjusting my plans so I departed Saturday and returned on a Sunday changed the cost down to a much more acceptable £126… with a £4.50 booking fee (even throwing in train fares, Diablo surcharges, etc), it was the best option of the day. Of course, this didn’t prevent me from having a good olde whine about the idiot Saturday away rule http://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2013/08/05/the-only-reason-the-saturday-away-rule-applies-is-to-make-cash-as-brussels-airlines-demonstrates/
Booking was done through Brussels Airlines website… and lets just say whilst it looks pretty on the outside, it’s not what I’d call the most refined booking engine out there (for example, the massive hunt for where did they hide the Miles and More earning number, and why you have to input the airline code of the airline you want to credit miles to is beyond me… never heard of a pre-populated drop-down box with a list of airlines?)
The route would be flown on Bombardier Dash8 Q400s on both ways. Those of you who are observant will know that Brussels Airlines don’t own these aircraft in their fleet, and have instead wet leased a fleet of five aircraft from FlyBe and Tyrolean Airways (or what is Austrian Airlines these days). This should prove interesting to see how they compare to Brussels Airlines mainline (admittedly, last time I was asleep in a BAe146 when I travelled on them last).
For the hotel, I decided to split from the pack and instead of staying at the host hotel, I checked in to stay at The Pantone Hotel – partially because it was reasonable at £59 with some cashback, but also in my past I spent far too many hours with a Pantone Colour Chart, so it seemed a good idea at the time.
So a simple there and back, with a travel conference built-in, as well as the fun of SNCB and… Brussels. Enough to fill a weekend of fun and games.