When I can remember an airline ticket’s booking reference off the top of my head it means there have been a lot of changes. For an upcoming trip, I lucked out with an excellent bunch of fun flights but cancellations have made these progressively less impressive the closer it gets to flying day.

Even with that being said, I have managed to tweak the flights to my favour and saved money along the way. Here’s the whole story of what has happened.

The Booking

9 October 2021. I am looking at flights to Australia for the middle of 2022 and luck out. A decent business class fare sold via British Airways has come up in the search, with a lot of other airlines involved, making it fun for me and so I book.

I end up with Dublin to London on Aer Lingus, London to Helsinki on Finnair, and Helsinki to Tokyo Haneda on Japan Airlines as the outbound. For the return it is Sydney to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong to London on British Airways and London to Oslo on British Airways.

Next I used my frequent flyer points to fly Tokyo to Sydney on Japan Airlines and booked a cash ticket with Scandinavian Airlines on the other end to get me from Oslo back to Dublin.

This booking promised my first visit to Finnair’s Platinum Wing in Helsinki, then first class lounges in Tokyo (Japan Airlines – also a first visit), Sydney (Qantas), and Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific). Good times, I was very pleased all round and looked forward to the trip.

The Cancellations

Very early in the year I noticed the Cathay Pacific service from Sydney to Hong Kong was cancelled. I received no notification from British Airways and you can’t do anything until they actually cancel it. No problem, I saw there was a later flight that would work and was running so I was all good.

On 23 April 2022, British Airways cancelled all their flights from Hong Kong to London and I was e-mailed about it. That meant the Cathay Pacific option was a moot point.

This part became one of those you win some, you lose some type deals. When I called, I was offered the Sydney to London via Singapore service, which was my only option. Dropping the London Heathrow to Oslo sector suited me too, as I had only booked that to get the cheapest price when I was booking, so I asked if that was possible.

They agreed to that (with no refund on the dropped sector – still a win!) and so the booking was duly amended. Dropping that last sector also meant I could cancel the connecting flight on Scandinavian Airlines, which resulted in a €200 total benefit to me after I rebooked it for a London to Dublin. The downside was not flying Cathay Pacific and having to deal with British Airways old Club World and the current abbreviated on board service for 24 hours, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Less Impressive Workarounds

So outbound is still unchanged – DUB-LHR-HEL-HND-SYD, while the return is SYD-SIN-LHR-DUB. In the meantime, Japan Airlines had cancelled my Haneda to Sydney flight, so I was refunded my frequent flyer points. Instead I rebooked on Qantas for the same day, just a couple of hours later, also on points. All good. Qantas then cancelled their flight.

Since transiting Japan is allowed but entering is not, I needed to get out of Japan the same day I arrived. As there were no direct flights on oneworld airlines, I had to book Japan Airlines from Tokyo to Singapore, then a cash ticket Singapore to Sydney on British Airways. Less impressive all round, as it’s a 10 hour direct flight Tokyo to Sydney, but Tokyo to Singapore is 7 hours, then it’s the same again to Australia. I was tired just thinking about it, and could have done without the expense.

But Wait, There’s More!

Everything at this stage felt held together by spit and string, especially when I then noticed Japan Airlines had cancelled their flights from Helsinki to Tokyo. I had to wait a few days for the official cancellation to come through, and come through it did.

During my wait for the e-mail, I had picked up that the best re-route would be Dublin to London Heathrow and then London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda, on British Airways and Japan Airlines. When I received the e-mail, I telephoned and got some bad news.

The only option with a codeshare was Finnair Helsinki to Tokyo Narita. Weirdly, the JAL flight from London to Tokyo did not have a BA codeshare on it (which I noticed on the website when searching). Turns out the agent couldn’t do anything but send me to Narita, which is no good, because it’s not the airport my connecting flights were booked from. For once I decided to do nothing and just wait.

Just a couple of hours later, I noticed that the codeshare flight numbers had popped back onto the BA website. I called back again and hallelujah, it was an easy switch and that was all done.

More Luck?

In even happier news, an award flight search turned up the fact that the Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to Sydney was actually operating. It looks like my original flight was cancelled due to an aircraft swap. I had booked into Premium Economy and the new plane did not feature this travel class, hence my ticket being cancelled. There had been no award seats when I looked, hence my rebooking with Qantas, which was then also cancelled.

Even better was the fact four award seats were available in economy. That meant I was able to cancel my Tokyo to Singapore award booking and get my Avios and money back. It also meant the cash ticket I booked Singapore to Sydney could also be cancelled and turned into a voucher. Said voucher will be applied to the main booking, as I still have some to pay.

So What Is The Route Now?

My final route, barring no more changes, will be as follows. Dublin to London on British Airways, London to Tokyo Haneda and then to Sydney on Japan Airlines. The last sector there is on points and is in economy class, but since JAL have what is considered the world’s best economy class (8 abreast on the 787 when almost everyone else has 9 abreast) I am looking forward to trying it.

Return is a straight through Sydney to London via Singapore, and then connecting to Dublin, all on British Airways. All of it will be worth it to see the family in Australia, that’s for sure.

Overall Thoughts

If your head is spinning reading this, I don’t blame you. It’s been some journey getting everything sorted and in place, but it’s all worked out fine in the end.

Missing Cathay Pacific and their gorgeous Hong Kong lounge is sad, but that’s China’s fault, not the airline’s. Regrettable too is not flying Finnair’s Airbus A350 and trying their lounge in Helsinki, but it is what it is.

I’ve managed to get away with it without any additional expenses or flying time, which at certain points were pretty substantial. Without frequent flyer points or British Airways’ Book With Confidence policy, it would have been a disaster. So I’m a happy camper at the end of the day and am looking forward to going.

Have you had a set of flights turn less impressive as time has passed between booking and flying? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Sora Sagano on Unsplash.
Japan Airlines Business Class via One Mile At A Time.
JAL Economy Class by Tadayuki Yoshikawa on Aviation Wire.
Finnair seat via Finnair.