A HIGH-quality, low-cost way to reach Eastern Europe: that was my view of the Independent's recent two-for-one flights deal with Lufthansa. Not only was I happy to endorse it, I have saved up all my coupons and am looking forward to a cut-price midwinter excursion to Siberia. But a two-for-one offer in another newspaper seems to be stretching the notion of 'bargain'.

Here's the deal: two people can fly business class from London to Bangkok for the price of one ticket. And here's the catch: all flights have to be on Northwest Airlines, and the only way this carrier can get you to the Thai capital is from Gatwick via Minneapolis (in the Midwestern US), Los Angeles and Tokyo, using a different aircraft for each of the four sectors.

This is not an especially popular way to reach the Far East; the flying time is 30 hours 50 minutes, compared with 11 hours 25 minutes on one of the many non-stop flights from London. This is without taking into account connection times, which add at least five more hours and could include an overnight stay.

Northwest's economy class is jolly good, so presumably its business section is splendid. But because of the extra distance, Northwest's fare is a whacking pounds 4,671. One further drawback: even if you have an annual travel insurance policy, you are required to pay an 'administration charge' of pounds 25.