British Airways’ New Low Fee Award Tickets

Filed Under: Awards, British Airways

British Airways Executive Club is known for their outrageously high “carrier imposed surcharges” on award tickets. On transatlantic flights in first or business class you can expect to pay $1,000+ in cash in addition to the Avios required.

In my opinion one of the best uses of British Airways Avios is their “Reward Flight Saver” options. With this, British Airways offers awards within Europe for a certain number of Avios plus £35 in taxes, fees and carrier charges, which is quite reasonable.

Now they’re offering an even lower cost option on flights within Europe, at least if you’re looking to minimize the amount of cash you have to pay.

British Airways Executive Club members can now book a reward flight using Avios plus just £1 return. British Airways trialed this on select European routes several weeks ago, and they’re now expanding this to most flights in the UK and Europe.

This option is available to Executive Club members who have earned at least one point in the past 12 months, so it does require some level of account activity.

Paying just £1 sounds awesome, but is it a good deal? With this new pricing, here’s how pricing changes on a couple of routes, based on roundtrip travel in economy:

  • Fly from London to Edinburgh for 16,000 Avios plus £1
  • Fly from London to Venice for 22,000 Avios plus £1

How does that compare to the “regular” pricing?

  • Fly from London to Edinburgh for 9,000 Avios plus £31
  • Fly from London to Venice for 15,000 Avios plus £35

In other words:

  • You’re redeeming an extra 7,000 Avios to save £30 (~37USD)
  • You’re redeeming an extra 7,000 Avios to save £34 (~42USD)

In both cases those are horrible deals, as you’re getting 0.53-0.6 US cents of value per Avios, which most definitely isn’t how I would redeem them.

Bottom line

I suppose more options are always a good thing, especially for those who are hoping to minimize the amount of cash they’re paying for a trip. However, for someone looking to maximize the value of their Avios, I absolutely wouldn’t recommend redeeming Avios this way, as it’s a pretty lousy value.

See this post for the best ways to redeem British Airways Avios, and see this post for the best credit cards for earning British Airways Avios.

  1. UK residents may have a more limited set of options for using Avios other than flying BA. So it’s at least possible there are a lot of people with “too many” Avios and not enough opportunitiies to spend them.

    In which case reducing the cost of a flight to nothing may be a decent option.

    Personally I use my Avios on AA and JAL so don’t have that problem.

  2. @ Daniel

    This BA customer thinks it’s a good idea. I’m sitting on a mountain of avios I’ll never be able to use: any opportunities to reduce cash spend in favour of avios is great by me.

  3. @Daniel – it’s just an option.

    Just as BA also allows people to use avios to pay seat selection fees or for Buy On Board catering in economy short haul flights.

    Not everyone calculates a penny value for every avios they earn – especially if it’s only a small amount of avios they have.

    Don’t some of the US airlines allow you to buy lounge access with their points instead of cash?

    It will suit some people but not others but I wouldn’t deny them the option. And I certainly say the airline was ‘out of touch with consumers’ for merely offering this.

  4. I am horrified by some of the ways people use Avios and AirMiles in general, but the fact remains that the proportion of people willing to put time and effort in maximising value is tiny! Most people will see it as a great option and won’t think too much about comparing value! So unfortunately, BA is very much in tune with their customers’ behaviour!

  5. JustSaying,

    Why is an airline offering you more choice without taking anything away a reason to not fly them?

    You make no sense. Althugh I’d be curious to hear which US airline you’d rather fly than BA?

  6. Ben is absolutely correct : BA’s new offer is a lousy deal by one the worst airlines in terms of its treatment of its loyal customers (Ben mentioned their outrageous award fees that could run more than 1,000 dollars per one way award ticket!).

    Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning here that the last year, BA was forced to settle a class action, multi-million dollars lawsuit in the US for their deceptive practices to impose so called “fuel surcharges” on award tickets, which the court had determined had nothing to do with the price of fuel.

  7. Sam,

    And as Ben also said, it’s just an extra option so how can anyone reasonably complain? It will work for some folks.

    More generally I fly BA a lot and don’t see a problem. It’s certainly better than any US airline. Seems like it has become fashionable to knock BA when in reality they do a good job.

  8. The other benefit is that if you do end up cancelling such an award ticket, you only lose GBP1 for the cancellation fee (as opposed to the up to GBP35).

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