Unless the storm has made BA have a last-minute change of plan, the Executive Club and avios.com will today announce the launch of ‘Part-Pay with Avios’.
I have mentioned on Head for Points in recent months that BA was planning to introduce this. It is now with us but, to be honest, it is less exciting than I hoped. That said, a lot of people will find it useful and it doesn’t disadvantage anyone, so I welcome it as an additional benefit for the Avios programme.
This, in a nut shell, is what you will get:
When booking a UK or short-haul European flight for cash, you can redeem Avios to receive a discount on the price.
You can choose the level of discount:
Save £10 per person by redeeming 1,500 Avios per person (0.67p per Avios)
Save £20 per person by redeeming 3,000 Avios per person
Save £30 per person by redeeming 4,500 Avios per person
The discount will be available on one-way as well as return tickets. You can therefore double the maximum discount to £60 per person by booking a trip as 2 x one-way tickets rather than as a return.
(Note that, today, you can only discount tickets starting in the UK. You will need to wait until next Monday to book discounted tickets which start in Europe, and therefore there is no point splitting a ticket – apart from a UK domestic – into 2 x one-ways until 4th November.)
Because you are buying a cash ticket, albeit at a discount, you will still receive the usual Avios, tier points and On Business points for the flight.
The other key rules are:
You cannot part-pay Air Passenger Duty or any equivalent foreign tax. What this means, in practice, is that you cannot redeem 4,500 Avios to reduce a £30 one-way ex-UK ticket to £0, because £13 of that is Air Passenger Duty. In such a scenario, the maximum discount offered would be £10 for 1,500 Avios.
Only BA operated flights are valid, not codeshares (so, for example, only BA flights to Madrid can be discounted, not the ones flown by Iberia with a BA flight number)
Any itinerary with a non-BA flight on it will not be offered ‘Part-Pay With Avios’ even if it also contains a UK or short-haul flight
You can only book at ba.com or via the BA call centre
It cannot be combined with promotional discount codes or ‘flight plus car’ / ‘flight plus hotel’ packages
It CAN be combined with Hotline and shareholder discounts, and presumably the MBNA Diamond Club credit card 10% discount
It works OK on the new ‘hand baggage only’ fares
If you are in a Household Account, you will be allowed to use Avios to part-pay flights for people who are outside the Household Account
The Avios are deducted from the account of the person making the booking, even if the other passengers have their own BA or avios.com accounts
Moscow and Tel Aviv are excluded as they are classed as long haul
What do I think?
I am a little disappointed by this. It does not nothing to help people who have large Avios balances and would be happy, for example, to redeem 100,000 Avios for £670 off a long-haul flight, assuming the same pricing logic applied.
The price of 0.67p per Avios is roughly what I would have expected. It needed to be higher than the 0.57p that BA values them at if you redeem for a hotel room, which it is.
Will I do it next time I book a European ticket? That is a good question. My gut feeling is that I probably would – I would be saving £240 on tickets for my family of four (assuming we booked 2 x one-way tickets instead of a return), and that is a noticeable amount of money. I also have a lot of Avios points, so I tend to value them lower than most people.
Let me be clear, though. For BA, this is a clever move which should pay off for them. On many routes, a member could use Avios to bring down the cost of a short-haul flight to less than the cash cost of easyJet or a similar low cost carrier.
It will also remove the common complaint of ‘I can’t use my Avios because there is no availability’ – although I would have been a lot happier if it was possible to pay for 100% of a flight this way.
Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below. There are plenty of Avios staff who read Head for Points and who will see them!