Sometimes, when you search for flights, you may not find, or there are no commercial airlines serving flights to and/or from your city. So, how are you going to travel when there is a need for it? This is usually possible using what is called a “positioning flight”. If you haven’t heard of such flights before, do not worry. We’ll tell you a lot about it in our travel guide.
In this blog, we are going to provide you an in-depth overview of positioning flights, what they are and how you can book one amid your trip.
What is a Positioning Flight?
In air travel, the term “positioning flight” often relates to an aircraft which is routed to its home airport without carrying commercial passengers. Such flights usually serve the purpose of ferrying airline staff, refuelling, maintenance, repair, replacement for a broken down aircraft, etc.
However, positioning flights can be used by fare-paying passengers as well, especially those living in cities that don’t have connectivity to hub airports or major airports. Therefore, in such situations, travellers can book positioning flights from another airport in order to get to the main airport from where their itinerary begins.
For example, if you are living in a city that is very far away from the airport where your flight is scheduled for departure, you could book a positioning flight from another airport in a nearby region.
In addition, a positioning flight can also be accessible via flight deals, award tickets, airline miles and other promotions that are regularly offered by airline carriers.
Are there Any Benefits and Downsides of Positioning Flights?
There may be a few benefits as well as some downsides of positioning flights. From the point of view of benefit, you can think of it as a saviour, particularly if you are living in an area that does not have an airport, or your flight is scheduled for departure from an airport that is situated miles away in another region or city.
However, on the downside, the availability of positioning flights is pretty uncertain, since their primary use is for some other purpose rather than transporting commercial passengers to and from airports.
Aside from this, a few other downsides can be that the flights might not be available in or offering the same travel class, and the flights from partner airlines might not be permitted.
How to Book a Positioning Flight for Your Trip
If you do the mathematics, you will realise that booking a positioning flight can likely add to your travel reservation expenses. Furthermore, the price of the tickets may depend on the location, route, and flight times. If you are using travel cards, like the Capital One Venture card or the Barclays Arrival+ card, you can alleviate the cost of the ticket. Whereas, you can use your accumulated points to pay for other travel expenses. You may also be lucky to have discounts on positioning flights.
You can easily book a separate positioning flight that can get you from your home airport to the airport your international flight or award flight is either departing from or arriving to. It can come handy, for instance, when you plan a round-trip journey to and from a foreign country.
The easiest way is to book your ticket online on the airliner’s website. You can book using your travel miles or simply pay with cash.
Another way is to book your ticket for a position flight through an online travel agency (OTA) or personally visit a physical office of a third-party travel agency in your region.
If you may, there is also the customer service centre of the airline carrier that you can contact directly via phone and book a ticket for a positioning flight. The representatives can assist you and get things done quickly. You can find their contact information on the airliner’s website.
Basically, you will need to look for deals and promotions that are offered by airline carriers, then check and compare the prices of the flights.
Things to Consider when Booking Positioning Flights
In addition, there are also a couple of things you need to consider when booking tickets for positioning flights. These are given as follows.
Choose your Airline Wisely
Before you start booking a positioning flight, it is crucial that you take a moment to choose an airline carrier carefully. It is a good idea to pick an airline that is the same as the award ticket for the reason that the carrier will fly from your home airport to their international hub. Also, the flights will be on schedule to make to the connecting flights.
However, in case there is no possibility of a flight’s availability with that carrier, you can always look for alliance airlines (or partner airlines) that usually cooperate with one another and even offer deals.
An advantage of having all your flights on the same airline for your itinerary is that you will be able to check in and check your bags. But, bear in mind the rules may vary depending on the airline carriers and the countries you depart from or arrive to.
The size of airports and their terminals also vary. Thus, if you are flying from an airport that is large, it is likely that you will need to change terminals quickly. Now, the connecting terminals and means of getting from one terminal to another can also add up to your time. So, you will need to figure this out on your travel plan as well. Not to mention that you may have to clear the security checkpoints on your way to your flight.
Delay in Flights
Sometimes, flights can be delayed due to reasons which may be in the airliner’s decision or because of the occurrence of an unprecedented event. If your positioning happens to be delayed, or even cancelled, due to the airliner’s decision, the airliner will be obliged to immediately rebook you on another flight, preferably a partner flight bound for your destination city.
As long as it is not you fault that your flight was delayed or cancelled, you will have a chance to get on to another plane and continue your journey, and without being far behind schedule.
If you book a different airline for your positioning flight, chances are, you will need to check bags when travelling to an international destination. It may also be possible that you will need to wait for your bags to be unloaded from the plane and sent for a re-check at the baggage check section with the next airline you are going to board for your trip.
Also, in case there is a delay in offloading your baggage, the airline operating the positioning flight will only be responsible for transporting your baggage to the destination airport that is mentioned on the ticket. Thus, if your destination is a different one, you will have to make arrangements in order to get your baggage transported to your desired destination airport.
Therefore, selecting the same airline for both your main itinerary and a positioning flight can make a big difference.
Overnight Travel and Stay
Sometimes, it may happen that you cannot get to the airport from your home on the same day. You could either fly late and find accommodation at the airport or in a nearby area or fly early, which will also give you plenty of time to board your departing flight. In this case, most travellers usually prefer flying the night before and find a suitable airport hotel to spend the night.
When you book a flight and/or a position flight, make sure not to book the last flight of the day. This is because if, for some reason, the flight gets delayed or cancelled, you will be left with none and eventually, have to spend the rest of the night at the airport or in a hotel.
Positioning flights are a great way to make your travel hassle-free, especially when planning a long-haul trip.