Friday, June 02, 2006

Non-stop flights from Washington (Dulles) to London

This was revised on September 3, 2006. Note that starting on October 1, the MAXJet flight will leave at 20:15 (8:15 in the evening.) Click here for details.

The traveler looking for a non-stop flight from Washington Dulles (IAD) has a variety of options. Here they are with a few comments:

Flight: BA 224 (British Airways)
Departure: 08:05
Arrival: 20:15
Flight Time: 7 hours 10 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777

British Airways offers four classes: First, Club World, World Traveller Plus, and World Traveller, which mean First, Business, Economy Plus, and Economy respectively. The First Class product is outstanding. Business Class offers a completely flat bed. World Traveller Plus gives you a significantly better seat than World Traveller, but there is no difference in the food and wine service.

It is rather nice to be able to leave the United States and arrive in the United Kingdom last thing at night, and frequently there seems to be great availability of this flight. Free drinks in all classes.

The serious shortcoming of British Airways is that, if you fly on a discounted ticket, they reward you with only 25% of actual miles, which means that you need to fly 50 times before you get a free ticket!

British Airways uses Boeing 777 on this flight, which is a good modern plane.

Flight: UA 922 (United Airlines)
Departure: 09:28
Arrival: 21:45
Flight Time: 7 hours 22 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 767

The other morning flight. United has really become a little bit spartan during these troubled times, and they no longer server caviar and Dom Perignon in first class. Business class is OK although, unlike much of the competition, it does not offer flat beds. And you have to pay for drinks in Economy. Economy Plus gives you more leg room, but the seat and the food are the same. You usually do not have pay for Economy Plus as this is one of United's ways of rewarding its elite members of the frequent flyer plan, but they seem to be experimenting with charging passengers to sit in this area.

You earn miles in United's Mileage Plus program, and you can spend these miles on any Star Alliance flight. If you are Premier Executive you can earn a free transatlantic ticket with just 11 flights. (That is why I fly United rather than BA.)

The 767s are becoming a little old, and I see that as a disadvantage of this flight.

Sometimes I have found it easiest to get the deepest discounts on this flight.

Flight: UA 918 (United Airlines)
Departure: 18:03
Arrival: 06:20
Flight Time: 7 hours 22 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777

My previous comments on United apply here, but note that UA 918 is on a 777, which is much nicer than a 767. Economy seats on United's 777 at 2-5-2. Unless you get stuck in the middle of the center aisle, which has never happened to me, this turns out to be a pretty nice arrangement. For me, I dislike the timing of this flight because you cannot get a full day's work done and then travel, In other words, it combines the disadvantage of an overnight flight without the benefit of being able to do a day's work.

Flight: UA 920 (United Airlines)
Departure: 18:28
Arrival: 06:55
Flight Time: 7 hours 32 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 767

Too early in the day, and a Boeing 767. Avoid this flight.

Flight: BA 216 (British Airways)
Departure: 18:35
Arrival: 06:55
Flight Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 747

Although I have not taken this flight for some time, I am beginning to find 747s a little bit too old for my liking. And I don't like the time of this flight. Avoid.

First and Business Class passengers have the advantage of being able to use BA's wonderful arrivals lounge at Heathrow, and they can eat in the lounges at Dulles Airport before they leave.

Flight: VS 022 (Virgin Atlantic)
Departure: 18:40
Arrival: 07:05
Flight Time: 7 hours 25 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus 340

Virgin does everything a little bit differently. The Upper Class is quite an experience, but passengers need to remember that it is a Business Class product -- not First Class, although it beds are certainly comparable to first class beds, the food and wine are not. Two wonderdul features in Virgin's Upper Class are the on-board massages and the bar.

The departure lounges and arrivals lounges are outstanding

Passengers who accumulate miles on Continental and Singapore Airlines will be happy to know that this flight runs as CO 8242 and SQ 2522. (However, although you can fly on Singapore Airlines using United miles, they will not let you book flight SQ 2522 using Mileage Plus miles. A pity!)

Flight MY 200 (MAXjet Airways)
Departure: 19:30
Arrival: 08:30
Flight Time: 8 hours

This seems like a very interesting way to get to London, but I have never been on this flight. You pretty much get Business Class quality at highly discounted rates. The lowest available fare at the moment seems to be $2,503 including all taxes. Note that this flight arrives at Stansted Airport (STN) and not Heathrow (LHR). This is a disadvantage for travellers wishing to go to the West End or west London, but it could actually be good for people wishing to make connections on discount airlines like EasyJet to the rest of Europe. People on this flight get to use the Northwest Lounge in Terminal B. Reports say that there are some beverages, but little food.

I have never traveled on this flight, reviews of this flight can be found here.

Flight: UA 924 (United Airlines)
Departure: 21:53
Arrival: 10:00
Flight Time: 7 hours17 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777

Nice aircraft. Good frequent flyer plan. And you can do a day's work and then fly. This is the flight I usually try to take.

Flight: BA 292 (British Airways)
Departure: 21:55
Arrival: 10:10
Flight Time: 7 hours15 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777

The timing of this flight suits me, and I like British Airways. The only bothersome thing is their frequent flyer plan if you are flying on a discounted seat in economy. I have been on this flight all of BA's four classes. First was the best!

They also gave me a bottle of the delicious Louise Champagne from Pommery as a gift at the end of the flight!


Mr. Anthrope said...

But what about pricing for these flights? Is there one better than the rest?

Moyey said...

Good question. But there really is no easy answer.

For business class, MAXjet is by far the cheapest.

Among United, Virgin, and British Airways, it simply depends on who is running the best offer. None is really cheaper or more expensive than the others.

Moyey said...

A very good way to figure out who is offering the best fares is to go to:


These sites go through all the travel sites to pick out the best deals.