Wow: British Airways Offering 50% Off Award Tickets (Last Chance)

Filed Under: Awards, British Airways
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A week ago British Airways launched its most lucrative award sale ever, though it goes without saying that this isn’t exactly an easy time to travel internationally.

Well, if you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet booked a flight, this is your last chance to do so (you need to book by Tuesday).

British Airways offering 25-50% off awards

British Airways’ Avios award sale is valid for bookings through October 13, 2020, and for travel through June 30, 2021:

  • You can save 50% off on long haul redemptions in all cabins
  • You can save 25% off short haul redemptions in all cabins

Here are some further things to be aware of:

  • The promotion is open to all Executive Club members
  • There’s no registration required
  • You must travel on British Airways metal
  • The discounted price should automatically appear when searching for awards, assuming your flight is eligible
  • Only the Avios requirement is discounted, and not the taxes, fees, and surcharges
  • Both peak and off-peak travel dates are eligible
  • Amazingly enough, this promotion can be combined with a British Airways companion voucher

Save 50% on British Airways long haul awards

For context, here’s the normal award chart for travel on British Airways (not factoring in the discounts):

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

For example, with this promotion an off-peak one-way first class award from New York to London would require just 34,000 Avios.

Meanwhile a one-way business class award from London to Los Angeles would require just 31,250 Avios.

This is a great deal, but expect high fees

We’ve never seen British Airways offer 50% off all long haul award tickets before, especially when you consider that you can travel over a period of roughly nine months. On the surface that’s incredible.

However, do keep in mind that British Airways is known for its ridiculously high carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as “fuel surcharges”), so you’re likely going to be paying a lot of cash as well for these tickets.

I’ll take it a step further — I’d bet that’s British Airways’ primary motivation for running this promotion. Sure there’s value to getting some Avios liability off the books, but this is also a quick way to get cash, since carrier imposed surcharges go directly into British Airways’ pockets.

This might be worth a speculative booking

I’m guessing many will be tempted by this promotion — while there’s a lot of uncertainty right now, this is also a really long booking window.

One strategy here could be to just make a speculative booking:

  • If your flight ends up being canceled or has a significant schedule change, you can always cancel it and redeposit the Avios for free
  • Worst case scenario British Airways Executive Club has reasonable redeposit fees, of just $55 per ticket

Of course let’s see how long it takes British Airways to refund fuel surcharges in the event of cancelations. 😉

It might be worth making a speculative booking with this promotion

Save on surcharges with the BA credit card

If you have the British Airways Visa Signature® Card then you can potentially save on the carrier imposed surcharges you’d be paying on award tickets. The card offers up to $600 per year in statement credits. You can earn up to three statement credits, as follows:

  • Earn a $100 statement credit for an economy or premium economy booking
  • Earn a $200 statement credit for a business class or first class booking

These are valid for transatlantic flights originating in the US, and the credit should post within 45 days. Earning a $100-200 statement credit for these bookings potentially makes this an even better deal.

Here’s everything you need to know about the British Airways Visa.

Save on carrier imposed surcharges with the BA Visa

How to earn British Airways Avios

British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can transfer over points from those programs at a 1:1 ratio. On top of that, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a great way to earn Avios.

Service on British Airways is limited right now

Speaking of the passenger experience, it’s probably also worth pointing out that service on British Airways is extremely limited at the moment, and we don’t know when that will end.

Even in first class you can expect your meal to be served in a box, with plastic cups, etc. I’m not opposed to airlines limiting service during the pandemic, but British Airways is also known for being cheap, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see few changes to the current catering for a long time.

British Airways’ current first class catering

Bottom Line

British Airways is currently running its best-ever promotion on redeeming Avios. If you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, this is your last chance to do so.

You can save 50% on all long haul awards, including in first class. This is a great offer on the surface, given that you can book nine months out.

Fortunately for British Airways, award tickets can be quite profitable as well, thanks to the high fees and surcharges. I suspect that’s a primary motivation for British Airways running this promo.

Many may find it worthwhile to make a speculative booking, since worst case scenario you’ll be on the hook for a $55 cancelation fee. It’s an especially great deal if you have a companion voucher, since you can stack the 50% off with a companion voucher to get a heck of a value.

Anyone plan to take advantage of this British Airways Avios award sale?

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  1. Departing from which countries are YQ and other similar “fees” still prohibited? IIRC HKG has allowed them again? Philippines? Kuwait?

  2. If an award is canceled and the Avios are redeposited, are the taxes and fees refunded to the original form of payment, or do I get a credit?

  3. These high surcharges ruin the value of this deal for me. I am not paying €600 in surcharges in addition to the Avios for a return LHR-HKG in First, when I could simply book Qsuites for €1.300 whilst keeping the (102.000) Avios in my pocket.

  4. @Andre
    I wouldn’t fly for pleasure on one of these “deals” anyway, but in what sense is BA “too risky”? They’re one of the cash-richer airlines in Europe.

  5. If we make the booking and want to change the travel date within the 9 month period, what will be the date change fee (55 dollars?) and plus additional avios after October 13?


  6. @JackG, only BA metal. I’m looking for flights LHR-HND and see business class one-way on JAL is 92000 avios whereas on BA it is 45000 avios.
    I agree this is an easy way for BA to raise some cash during this period of uncertainty.

  7. I’m not biting until they bring service and catering back to an acceptable level. This food in a box stuff is an absolute joke.

  8. i want to book GRU-LHR-DME. If i book it as one booking in J, it comes to 648475 avios +$73.80
    But if I break it into individual segments, taxes are only $8.20 + $1 (yes, one dollar for LHR-DME). Plus, I do not care to book J on the LHR-DME leg and can save 9K avios by booking the second leg in Y. The flights are otherwise the same.

    Found a thread on flyertalk that says BA will not check bags to BA on separate tickets. Will there be any other issues with immigration in LHR since I am connecting on separate tickets (I am not eligible for entry into the UK without a visa). Will GRU agents at least print a boarding pass for me for the second ticket (assuming online checkin is not possible).

  9. Not that it really matters but this isn’t the first time BA have offered it.

    Back in 2008/2009 they offered either buy one get one free or 50% off all award travel.

  10. @ mike thank you for the link, was not aware of it. Nevertheless, my point remains:

    GRU-LHR-DME in J booked as one ticket: 64875 avios + $73.80

    same flights if booked separately:
    GRU-LHR in J 45000 avios + $8.20
    LHR-DME Y 10875 avios+S1, in J 19875 avios +$1.

    I don’t care about any difference in J vs Y on A320, especially in these COVID days, so my savings would be 9K avios plus $65 if booked separately.

  11. Like you and others said, super tempting and looked at a roundtrip between JFK and LHR since I have to go to Europe in December anyway. Zero issues finding availability in F at the 34k miles price, but $1875 in taxes makes it basically the same price as a roundtrip in J on most other airlines so hard pass (especially with limited catering).

  12. I just booked LIN-LHR-JFK in First for next April. (Taxes were only ~$400 before being offset by the $200 BA Visa credit in case anyone is interested).

    My seat map only shows 2 rows (8 seats total) on a 777. I’m not aware of BA having any 2-row F cabins on their 777 fleet. Is this a new seat or what’s going on? Anyone have any ideas.

  13. @Andrew Y
    The credit only triggers of your itinerary is departing from the US
    The 2 row F is for planes that have retrofitted club suites in business. You might get the new first seats with doors, you might not. It’s a toss up

  14. If you want to book from UK to elsewhere, you can set up another BA account in the UK (or in S. Africa for flights from Jo’burg elsewhere etc.) Strictly speaking not allowed to have multiple accounts per BA terms.

    You can transfer from a US credit card program e.g., Amex MR, to any non-US frequent flyer accounts.

  15. I have the BA credit card and getting the statement credit is a real argument. Multiple calls and messages, ended up chasing them with the financial regulator. The representatives just aren’t aware of this part of the credit card. Beware!

  16. Ben, does the discount also apply to upgrading with Avios? I.E. if I booked premium economy then upgraded to business with Avios, would that also be discounted?

  17. @Sam — you are right, this is a work trip so I expensed the whole thing and didn’t bother trying to get the BA visa credit.

  18. Lucky is BA raising the fees on these bookings? An example you have screenshotted is JFK to LHR on Jan 13 for 34K Avios and $584 – I found the same exact flight to be 34K Avios and $748. Why the discrepancy?

    Also, does this work on fifth freedom routes?

  19. Looks Like BA just pulled all the first class inventory (At least from LHR to LAX) for next summer/fall. I was going to do some future booking and the special must have caused them to pull back. Hopefully it returns, its still a decent deal at 70K on Alaska.

  20. Does this discount also apply to points requirements for book with money and upgrade with Avios? I’m seeing a WT+ and CW points upgrade from Dubai to Toronto pricing out to 44,000 Points round trip + 2,000 USD. Is that discounted or normal?

  21. Booked a one-way business class ticket from Tokyo to London for 37.500 Avios + 27 gbp in May currently scheduled to be on the A350. That’s a steal! Cancellation fees would only be 27 gbp as well. Great promotion!

  22. @Scandinavian traveler: how did you find a flight that only had £27 GBP in charges?? I’m looking at London to Tokyo too but charges are coming up to £550 per person…

    Anyone know what would happen if you want to move date of the reward flight? Do you have to pay difference in avios or will the 50% discount avios be enough to move date?

  23. To fly where? It looks borders will stay closed until at least Summer 2021 or longer. Australia MAYBE opens in 2022. Can’t see any sense to book any tickets now, esp with BA – to be even more traumatised by lack of any service and even more disgusting food than usual.

  24. Was able to snag a one-way ticket to Barbados in First for 57K Avios and $305 in taxes and fees for travel next month. Not expecting much in terms of the onboard experience but I should be able to have a decent meal and some Champagne in the lounge before boarding.

  25. Well they ended it before midnight on the West Coast, oh well. It would have been highly speculative booking.

  26. Was able to book last night just before midnight: Haneda to Heathrow to Inverness for 37,500 Avios + $80 and change. Great deal! Thanks for the tip Lucky!

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