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mrmatt
Post subject: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 14:33 on 22nd Jan 2014

Joined: 14:31 on 22nd Jan 2014
Posts: 2
So, this is my experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney for the 5th Test of the Ashes.

In short, I’m not a happy camper (at least not for the purposes of this post that’s not because of the result!).

I don’t know about everyone else who went, but I felt we got incredibly poor value for money. Let me expand on this.

A friend and I went together, sharing a hotel room. Between us, we paid almost £3,000 including the upgrade to the ‘Superior’ hotel option. That is approximately $5,500 AUD (approximate due to exchange rate fluctuations etc).

Having chatted with some Aussies (I know I know!!) who sat near us at the SCG, I got a pretty good feel for what they paid for their tickets. It seemed that if I were to budget $100AUD per person per day, you’d get change. So, That’s $1,000 AUD on tickets leaving the Barmy Army the thick end of $4,500AUD for accommodation and everything else.

Of course I’m aware that they’re not a charity and have to make money, however this really is taking the piss. The Metro Hotel on Pitt Street is fine for one night that you may pay £70 for - I have stayed in nicer TravelLodges. For the thick end of £200 a night however, I expect a lot more. I was terribly disappointed.

(the above prices are all assuming Joe Bloggs is booking this stuff without bulk rates/kick backs etc)

Not only that, but it appears that we’re now being shafted by them on the refund with regards to the 4th and 5th day (see below)

They sent me an e-mail asking for feedback on the experience and this was my reply:

In your e-mail requesting feedback, you state “we hope the whole experience was like no other”. That is certainly correct - never before have I booked a holiday or trip of any sort where afterwards I feel that my pants have been pulled so far down and without any KY Jelly either!

You then go on to ask for “feedback on how we can improve your experience for the next time”. Now, as it stands at the moment, it’s a given that I won’t be travelling with the Barmy Army again - believe it or not, I don’t appreciate being shafted. However, I’ll humour you and respond on the assumption that I’m happy to get raped on price.

Your ‘tour’ that was booked with us was incredibly poor value for money. Between my friend and I, we spend almost £3,000 with you (or somewhere in the region of $5,500 AUD depending on exchange rate). If you allow $100 per ticket per day for the cricket, that leaves $4,500 AUD for the hotel. Our ‘Superior’ hotel was worth somewhere in the region of $1,500AUD for that period…funnily enough exactly what they charge the room out at to the great unwashed (not taking into account what price you’re buying it at with a group/bulk discounts).

Now, I appreciate you have to make a profit, but that really is taking the piss…especially as you offer terrible value for money to your customers.

Now, to add further insult to injury, now we’re back home, you’re trying to screw us further! What do I mean by this? Well, in your e-mail you state that we’re entitled to a refund of 65% of the face value of the ticket for the fourth day and nothing for the fifth day. However, the National Refund Policy for 2013/2014 that you sent all of us on 9th December 2013 actually implies that we’re entitled to a full (100%) refund for the fourth and fifth day of the match. Why is this different? FYI, Section 2 (d) (i) of that National Refund Policy. I also wonder which type of ticket we had…I assume from the questionable seating we have either Silver or Bronze which again highlights the shocking value for money we received from the Barmy Army.

Would I travel with the Barmy Army again? Would I fuck...unless they provide copious amounts of KY to go with it!

Anyone else think the same and feel that this is/was one hell of a piss take?
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Cuthbert Rizla
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 15:50 on 22nd Jan 2014

Joined: 20:14 on 21st Mar 2012
Posts: 233
Some people prefer to have all the organisation for a trip like this carried out for them which is why they pay a premium and travel with tour groups, not just the Barmy Army.

I think you'll find that most seasoned BA followers on these forums prefer to travel independently, booking flights, hotels and hostels and match tickets themselves.

Certainly with all the price comparison sites as well as the info shared on here
it works out considerably cheaper.

Why anyone uses a tour operator or travel agent to go anywhere for anything these days remains a mystery to me.
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mrmatt
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 16:04 on 22nd Jan 2014

Joined: 14:31 on 22nd Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Cuthbert Rizla Wrote:
Some people prefer to have all the organisation for a trip like this carried out for them which is why they pay a premium and travel with tour groups, not just the Barmy Army.

I think you'll find that most seasoned BA followers on these forums prefer to travel independently, booking flights, hotels and hostels and match tickets themselves.

Certainly with all the price comparison sites as well as the info shared on here
it works out considerably cheaper.

Why anyone uses a tour operator or travel agent to go anywhere for anything these days remains a mystery to me.


Just for clarification, we only booked the hotel and match tickets with the BA.

To be honest, I agree with you, but we were Australia Test Match Virgins (is that a real thing?!) and it was the "we're the only people who guarantee tickets" line that caught us green behind the ears people out.

A real shame because they take the piss and rip the arse out of it, I'll never travel again with them...and if anyone asks I know who I won't be recommending in the future.
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Jeeder2
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 20:31 on 22nd Jan 2014

Joined: 21:59 on 8th Dec 2011
Posts: 103
I understand your frustration but CR is right. You will pay a premium to have the admin done for you. A quick search on this forum will tell you that from many seasoned tourers. I booked a package for my 1st Sydney ashes trip a few years back but for all other tours I've done I've always booked it myself and saved a fortune as a result. It won't please you to hear but i stayed at the same hotel as you but by booking it myself it was £80 a night and the match tickets varied but were about £30 a day. But to get these deals I had to spend hours trawling hotel websites and sit up til 2am back in the summer to buy match tickets (after begging a mate in Oz to register with Cricket Australia for me) and I had no guarantee of being sat with the Barmy Army - it was purely fortunate that tickets in that bay became available after I had already bought tickets in another part of the ground which meant I had to advertise then on this forum - more aggro. So, what I'm saying is that all this aggro can, of course, be saved by booking a package but you pay for it. Its the customers choice but I always save the cash for the sake of a few hours of my time.

My advice would be to use the advice of many helpful and knowledgeable people on here for future tours. But in fairnes to the Barmy Army they're offering a service and have never hidden their prices. It's all pretty transparent including knowing in advance which hotels they use so you can always do your own comparison before booking.

Valuable lesson learned or future tours.

For me, even despite the cricket result, the tour was superb.
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Marine
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 18:28 on 23rd Jan 2014

Joined: 18:21 on 23rd Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Here what you say, but you can't blame the BA as a business selling a trip, taking in supply and demand.I have done two trips this year one to New Zealand as an independent and Aus with the BA, and I would take the Ba trip anytime for sheer fun. I am off to Bangladesh in March and I spend hours reading BA forums for advice and if they were to run a trip I would pay the premium.
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PeterT
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 13:04 on 24th Jan 2014

Joined: 18:20 on 17th Oct 2008
Posts: 173
Marine Wrote:
Here what you say, but you can't blame the BA as a business selling a trip, taking in supply and demand.I have done two trips this year one to New Zealand as an independent and Aus with the BA, and I would take the Ba trip anytime for sheer fun. I am off to Bangladesh in March and I spend hours reading BA forums for advice and if they were to run a trip I would pay the premium.


I would never book with a travel agent or tour group unless there were obvious logistical or safety reasons, eg travelling to Bangladesh or Pakistan. I definitely would not recommend a tour for a country like Australia that is really well set up for independent travellers.

You can often price it out and conclude that the premium is enormous. Even if they guarantee tickets, it is normally cheaper to sort tickets out yourself and even if you end up buying them from Viagogo or similar, it is still cheaper than paying for a tour.

Now that the BA tours are booked through Thomson Sport, they are definitely not cheap. But as others have said they are not hiding anything and the prices are fairly quoted up front.
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blueandy1mac
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 17:07 on 24th Jan 2014

Joined: 12:30 on 14th Jul 2008
Posts: 2149
Location: Preston UK
PeterT Wrote:
Marine Wrote:
Here what you say, but you can't blame the BA as a business selling a trip, taking in supply and demand.I have done two trips this year one to New Zealand as an independent and Aus with the BA, and I would take the Ba trip anytime for sheer fun. I am off to Bangladesh in March and I spend hours reading BA forums for advice and if they were to run a trip I would pay the premium.


I would never book with a travel agent or tour group unless there were obvious logistical or safety reasons, eg travelling to Bangladesh or Pakistan. I definitely would not recommend a tour for a country like Australia that is really well set up for independent travellers.

You can often price it out and conclude that the premium is enormous. Even if they guarantee tickets, it is normally cheaper to sort tickets out yourself and even if you end up buying them from Viagogo or similar, it is still cheaper than paying for a tour.

Now that the BA tours are booked through Thomson Sport, they are definitely not cheap. But as others have said they are not hiding anything and the prices are fairly quoted up front.


Have to concur with these, apart from the Bangladesh issue. Travel and accomm are cheap and easily bookable either in advance or at the time.
If you're new to touring the option to travel with a recognised organisation, and with the carefree ability to just relax and enjoy the trip, is surely tempting. Breaking it down afterwards and realising it was cheaper in its component parts is a little naive and rather missing the point.
Put it down to (hopefully overall enjoyable) experience and have a go on your own next time.

ps I'll guarantee your bag doesn't turn up :D
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Big Harvey
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 08:21 on 25th Jan 2014

Joined: 09:14 on 23rd Apr 2008
Posts: 2364
I have only ever toured independently and have never even thought about going with a tour group. I think the only way I would consider a package would be if I had severe health/mobility issues or something. If you take a package you are paying someone quite a lot of money to organise something that you could in principle do yourself in a matter of minutes. For official Ashes packages, I think I'm right in saying that Cricket Australia get a cut as well as the tour organisers, on top of the massively inflated ticket prices CA charge tour groups.

Regarding India/Pakistan/Bangladesh type tours, you will be no safer when it comes to security concerrns going as part of a tour group. In fact I would argue in the latter two cases that the risk of a terrorist incident is potentially greater, especially if your group is staying in a Western-owned hotel.

I do recognise that everyone's priorities are different when going on tour. For instance if your priority is a guaranteed ticket in the same section as Vic, Billy, etc., and saving money isn't that high on your list of priorities, then I'm never going to tell you not to buy a BA package.

Personally though, I like to do my own thing, and allow spontaneity to play a big part in my touring. I do end up staying in some right dives from time to time, but given the amount of time I actually spend at my digs while touring, that's usually of little consequence. Independent budget travel is not only massively cheaper than buying packages, it's also more fun. Most of the time, anyway!
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Marine45
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 13:53 on 25th Jan 2014

Joined: 18:39 on 5th Jun 2013
Posts: 45
So on that note best way to travel to Chittagong would be travel alone use trains and local transport, looking o give it a ho and live on the edge. Any tips have read the forum on previous tours
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Big Harvey
Post subject: Re: My experiences of travelling with the Barmy Army to Sydney
PostPosted: 13:49 on 25th Jan 2014

Joined: 09:14 on 23rd Apr 2008
Posts: 2364
Marine45 Wrote:
So on that note best way to travel to Chittagong would be travel alone use trains and local transport, looking o give it a ho and live on the edge. Any tips have read the forum on previous tours


A bit off-topic, but here goes: The Asian SR Hotel near the station is a comfortable mid-range favourite with BA regulars. The friendly Railway pub (selling cans of cold Hunter's) is about a 10 minute walk away. Do try and make sure you have transport back to your hotel or the pub waiting for you after the game! Obviously the more people you can get to join you or tag along with, the cheaper it will work out.

Try and book trains as far ahead as possible, although the trains don't tend to sell out as quickly as in India, and tourists do seem to be given some kind of priority. If you can't get the train, buses can easily be booked at short notice.

Did you manage to get tickets OK? Because I'm not able to go, and was in and out of hospital at the time, I wasn't watching for the release of tickets, and last time I looked they were showing as "sold out."

The Indian tourist visa restrictions preventing a return within 60 days (under most circumstances) that made it all such a pain when planning for the World Cup have now been lifted, so you shouldn't have a problem getting back into India afterwards. If you want to save money, instead of flying to Chittagong, there's a very civilised twice a week train (The Maitree Express) to Dhaka from Kolkata, and you can make your way to Chitters from there. Alternatively (for a more chaotic border crossing experience!) you can get a through bus ticket from Kolkata to Chittagong. I bought my ticket from an office on Marquis St and the bus left from nearby. It takes about 22 hours.
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