How I flew to Manchester for 0 Avios and £0 tax, return!

On Wednesday, I flew up to Manchester for the day to have lunch with a friend.  The total cost was a grand total of £0 in tax and 0 Avios, which made it excellent value for money.

How I did I do this?  By tagging a free UK domestic flight onto the start and end of two other Avios redemptions.

You may remember that I was in Amsterdam last month, to check out how easy it was to do a back-to-back flight there.  My actual flight back to London was ticketed like this:

XX February – Amsterdam to London Heathrow

(stopover)

XX March – London Heathrow to Manchester

The cost of this ticket (4,500 Avios plus Reward Flight Saver tax) is the same whether you fly Amsterdam to Heathrow or fly Amsterdam to Heathrow (long stopover) to Manchester.  This is because Avios allows UK domestic connecting flights at no charge on Reward Flight Saver redemptions.

Manchester

Coming back from Manchester, my ticket actually looks like this:

XX March – Manchester to London Heathrow

(stopover)

XX April – London Heathrow to Hamburg

Again, the Manchester to London leg is effectively free because I was booking the Heathrow to Hamburg flight anyway.

There is only one thing to be wary of here.   All of your trips suddenly become inter-connected, so it is difficult to cancel one.  If I had not taken the Manchester to Heathrow flight on Wednesday, my Heathrow to Hamburg flight next month would have been automatically cancelled.  (Of course, I could have called BAEC and paid £25 to cancel the first leg before the date of travel – that would have preserved the Hamburg leg.)

You should also note that this only works for European Reward Flight Saver redemptions.

Whilst you can add a domestic leg to long-haul redemptions for 0 Avios, these WOULD incur an additional tax charge for fuel surcharges and Air Passenger Duty if you wait a few weeks before flying the domestic leg.  As an example:

New York to London in Economy is 20,000 Avios + £149

New York to London (2 month stopover) to Manchester in Economy is 20,000 Avios + £190

In this scenario, it is relatively pointless adding on the extra leg.  Compare that to:

Paris to London in Economy is 4,500 Avios + £17.50

Paris to London (2 month stopover) to Manchester in Economy is 4,500 + £17.50

If Manchester doesn’t appeal, there is always Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle etc etc ….

Note:  these tickets can only be booked at ba.com, because avios.com does not allow stopovers.  If your Avios points sit in avios.com, you will need to move them to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’ on either website.

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Comments

  1. Am doing a trip to a Aberdeen to explore the North East Highlands using this trick later in the year… Very nice!

  2. darrenf says:

    I have an RFS return to DME next month in F – if I add a domestic stopover to the return leg, will I still be able to access the CCR a few weeks later? :)

  3. Romuald says:

    Nice tip and very good timing. I was thinking to visit Edinburg this month and from Luxembourg, prices are quite expensive. It seems I will burn some avios.

  4. Manuel says:

    Are this last part flexibel? Can I change dates of this part?

    Example:
    ams -Lon : 10/3
    Lon-man : 15/3
    And then rebooked to 15/4 the MAN flight.

    • Yes, you can change the final sector even if you’ve flown the first one. I did this only last month, you’ll have to call though but I didn’t pay the telephone fee.

  5. Interesting stuff Raffles!

    What’s the longest stopover you can build in? And is jersey counted as domestic?

    • As far as the booking engine will allow…. Perhaps a year? Jersey is domestic but has a European service I.e CE is offered.

  6. Sandgrounder says:

    Some of us need these seats- please dont book unless you will travel.

    • The domestic availability for non-Golds can also be a bit screwy. My folks were very pleased to manage a 241 CW redemption in November LHR-GRU/EZE-LHR, however despite being almost a year out at the time of booking they could get the domestic sectors. This was with cash prices on those sectors being at their lowest and obviously Gold availability for me being wide open. Very frustrating though to have to pay an extra 18k +£70 for flights that you’ve already paid for with your longhaul booking. Needless to say they’ve written in to BA, we’ll see what they say. I remember bmi used to be pretty good in these situations at putting a request through to revenue management to release domestic connections, which from their perspective was a good way to keep control on domestic redemptions whilst not disadvantaging those connecting to long haul flights.

      • The odd thing is that I live in London, and had no availability in CW on a route I wanted to fly in January; I was booking this in November so not unexpected.

        Having just learned about the free domestic segment, I decided to search for a flight to another UK airport and surprisingly, there was availability only with a domestic connection to NCL (in June), but not to LHR.

        So I’m sorry for taking up a seat, but I didn’t have any other option if I wanted to fly when I did. Anyway with all the free RSH vouchers I might just go anyway and take the train back for free too

        • Haha good use of the RSH vouchers!

          Not sure if BA do this but with Lufthansa they used to have ‘married sectors’ for some availability, therefore I ended up having to fly EDI-LHR-FRA-JFK on a bmi redemption rather than miss out the LHR bit as it was ‘married’ to the FRA-JFK availability.

        • Very odd. ‘Married segment’ rules usually only apply from another country. May be worth me having a dig into this.

          • Hmm, well it was a one-way from HKG, as I avoided APD on my way to Asia by using airberlin

          • Lady London says:

            I would like to know more about this too.
            I do recall an airline claimed married segments forced them to charge me higher taxes on an award ticket once! Fare calculations for award tickets always were a variable adventure with them…. you will know who I mean.

  7. signol says:

    I’m doing this to EDI next week, 6 months after my MAD trip :) as an aside, aren’t there special APD rates from Belfast?

  8. Graeme says:

    Another great tip!

    Now if only Combine My Avios was working……

  9. I fly to Manchester all the time! Sounds amazing!

    Can you change the onward flight?

    • Yes, you can change the date (and even destination) of the domestic leg after you’ve flown the European leg. However, if you are not BA Gold there will be a £25 change fee.

  10. Hi Raffles,

    I’ve spoken about this before but you’re technically wrong when you say a Domestic is included free in a reward flight.

    You’re allowed 2 legs per sector for any reward trip. It used to be 3 in the old BA system. This can be a disadvantage when coming from Manchester, for instance as I did last year was routed to Alicante via Madrid. I was unable to book it as one 9000 return because it required 3 legs.

    So the regions are disadvantaged if your hop via London requires 2 legs from London.

    It has nothing to do with a Domestic flight being FREE as you state!

    • Brendan says:

      But Alicante (and all of Spain) is 15,000 return anyway?

    • But that is no longer possible, because Iberia no longer offers Reward Flight Saver. You can’t add on an Iberia Alicante flight for free because the existence of the Iberia leg will lead to the taxes being charged in full.

      London – Madrid – Alicante (one way) now costs 12,000 Avios plus £91 tax. Price is the same whether the London leg is BA or IB.

      • Meant to say it was another 9000 for the Manchester leg on a MAN>LHR>MAD>ALC on top of the 15,000!

        I now see it is 24,000 and lots More tax just for the LHR>MAD>ALC routing! I didn’t realise this had been removed from flight saver and even total avios spent for Iberia internal routes now taken fully,

        To me it’s just a further watering down of the Avios system compared to the old BA. Long gone are the days when I did MAN>JFK>MCO then MCO>MIA>JFK>MAN all on the standard return redemption for a US return flight.

        • It is a bit odd and I don’t know why Iberia did it, especially as it was all part of standardising the two schemes.

    • Trevor says:

      I think your own statement of “You’re allowed 2 legs per sector for any reward trip.” is also technically wrong, or at least needs some qualification.

      If you try book Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (yes, it’s a standard reward trip on BA), there are limited flights, so while a oneway should cost 4,500 Avios, the most options are indirect via Johannesburg and you’ll be charged an extra 7,500 Avios for the pleasure of the 2nd leg!

      Likewise, flying longhaul to Cape Town should be 25,000 Avios oneway, but the most availability is via JNB, so again you’ll be charged an extra 7,500 Avios for the trip.

      I’d say “You’re allowed 2 legs per sector for ‘a very restrictive few’ reward trips.” as generally you are going to be charged.

  11. Just to clarify, You can use Avios held with avios.com to book an itinerary with a stopover, however the http://www.avios.com booking engine does not support such bookings, you need to call.

    Ba.com of course allows you to make bookings online with stopovers.

    • I don’t get the point of Avios.com, I know they have some partner offers.

      But from what i’ve seen the only use is EuroStar which u have to call and book anyways!

  12. andy stock says:

    Raffles old pic, the wheel is now in Piccadilly Gardens. I got paid to go to Manchester recently. Paid For off peak return from. London to Buckshaw village via Manchester with. delay Repay vouches,, sat in first class, never charged the weekend upgrade fee and then got £22 refund for a 30 mins plus delay.

  13. Given that you still need to get to and from the airport at both ends of your journey, plus you need to check in an hour or so before your flight, I would have thought you’d be better off, in terms of convenience, time and cost, by just taking a train, even if the flight itself is ‘free’!

    • Dropped my youngest at nursery, tube to Heathrow (5 mins walk to South Ken) then champagne breakfast in Galleries First. Minimal difference to taking the tube from South Ken to Euston for the train, and brekky in Costa is not quite the same!