When a BA Gold should book a ‘Gold Priority Reward’

Last Summer we were with some friends when the conversation turned, as it always does when the other person is a traveller, to miles and points.  The wife was unleashing her frustration about being unable to get the short-haul redemption seats she wanted to fit around her kids school holidays.

“But John is BA Gold and, as he flies to New York every fortnight on BA, is clearly not short of Avios points.  Why don’t you just book a Gold ‘double Avios’ ticket?” I said.

This was met with confused looks all around.  For some reason, British Airways does a bad job of communicating Gold Priority Rewards to its Gold members.

British Airways BA

What is a ‘Gold Priority Reward’?

Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios.  The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.

You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.

There is some further information on the BA Gold benefits page here.

Normally, these rewards are poor value for long haul.  Let’s take one of our family runs to Dubai.  4 Club World tickets on a peak day, including one on an Amex 2-4-1, cost 360,000 Avios.  Using a Priority Reward, it would cost a crazy 960,000 Avios – plus the standard taxes.  You won’t catch me doing that in a hurry.

Are they a good deal for short haul though?

For short-haul European bookings, these rewards have some use.  Let’s take our standard run to Hamburg to visit the parents in law.

A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day is 9,000 Avios + £35 taxes.

A ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 18,000 Avios + £35 taxes.  In theory, changes to Gold Priority Rewards are meant to be free although I have had mixed success with that in the past, and it is not written anywhere that this should be the case.

Importantly, I can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point, as long as seats open up.

Let’s look at the costs here.  If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight.  This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average.  Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.

You’d be looking at £175 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy.  Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and I am saving £140 for using 18,000 Avios points.

This is not the greatest use of Avios by any means – we are looking at 0.78p per point.. However, I am locking in a hard cash saving and I get to travel on the exact flights I want.  0.78p per point is also not a terrible deal.

If you are Avios rich – and especially if you got most of your points from work-funded business travel and do not need to justify a minimum value when you spend them – the Gold Priority Reward can work well.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. I made good use of it recently to book a specific evening flight I wanted to be on from LCY to GVA, although would never have paid the crazy cash fare so its not straightforward to work out the pence per avios value I gained.

    Both times I’ve phoned to book one, the agent didn’t initially know what I was talking about and started telling me the avios availability.

    • You shouldn’t be able to book LCY as its not operated by BA mainline but BA Cityflyer – well done though !

  2. Actually, it is written that changes to Gold Priority Awards are free – see footnote 2 here: http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/spending-avios/booking-and-service-fees

  3. I booked one a couple of years ago but with the loss of short haul connections I’m paying double Avios already for all RFS – this effectively makes it quadruple Avios and not worth it compared to LCCs direct – even on a conservative 0.5p per Avios rate 36,000 + £35 means £215 in cash equivalent.

  4. OT but BA: looks like any extra a380s are not coming from MAS, they have reportedly now withdrawn all six from sale.

    • Amazingly we got two in F to KUL jan 17, so very grateful, using our 241. Just wanted to ask you James if that VIP bus or train up country exists from KL? Or to SIN?

      • Hi Polly, many vip coaches to Singapore and quite a few to Hat Yai too. The ones I have seen in HY are Alisan. Just google and try TA for up to date info. You also can go by train all the way from KL to BKK via HY. Air Asia have flights from KUL direct to HDY, as do Tiger from SIN. I love HY, great small city and the beach at Songkhla is huge, stunnimg and almost devoid of tourists. Both cities are very Thai and feel it but HY gets quite a lot of tourists from Malaysia and Singapore at the weekends. You can take bus up coast from HY to the ferry to Samui. when we did that it was awesome. We paid for vip bus, what actually turned up was an old banger by Thai standards, or a typical UK coach to you and me but it did have air conditioning. Observing the drama and bartering of people and produce etc getting on and off along the way was so entertaining. You can get to Trang, another beach resort in two hours from HY by van and a bit longer by bus. Krabi is about 4-5 hours by bus and Phuket about 6-7 if you want to go back there. You might want to see Malaysia though and make Hat Yai and Songkhla your end points. You will find the south of Thailand noticeably more prosperous than the north.

        • Thanks James, think we will be heading for H Y and or Songkhla this time… We also loved the local bus from BKK all the way up to the north, into the Hill tribes area and Burmese border, again exactly as you described. It was 30 yrs ago tho! So def time for another bus ride methinks! And yes a final week in HKT to end the trip. Love Asia, love HFP too, thanks…

    • They’ve only committed to keep them until 2018 though when they are getting A350s.

      So whilst I still don’t think BA is genuinely interested in acquiring second hand ones, it’s likely that MAS will still want to off-load them and as BA is in no particular hurry to acquire more the wait if anything may make it more likely not less.

      • Time will tell, I hope if they can sustain their loads to LHR then they will keep them on that route at least. I’m curious to see where the others will be deployed going forward.

  5. Sussex Bantam says:

    This might be very interesting for hard to secure school holiday seats to Europe. Can you book more than one seat per Gold Card ? Could I book seats for my wife and kids as well if I have enough Avios ?

    • You can book unlimited seats, you don’t even need to travel. Booked loads for my parents in law in the past.

    • Yes you can, that’s one of the best uses of this feature along with last minute bookings

      • Indeed it would. We are in Austria this week. We ended up paying £400 per person to get to Salzburg because my wife only decided at 6 weeks notice to come here – and that involved changing planes in Frankfurt.

        (In my experience, the most expensive BA short haul flights of the year are those on the Friday and Saturday of February half term to the main ski resorts. Why BA does not increase capacity is beyond me, it isn’t as it Salzburg Airport is near capacity and weekend Heathrow slots are easy to create.)

        18,000 Avios plus £35 would have been a massive improvement on £400 (x4 people). If I’d known we were going to do this I might even have taken an ex-DUB trip purely to ensure I got back to Gold – it would have been a better use of the money than giving it to Lufthansa!

        • Sussex Bantam says:


        • Raffles – I think you need tell your wife she needs to decide where she wants to go on holiday over a year in advance. I’m sure Harry could offer some advice on how to go about it…

          • Wouldn’t dare. Extremely difficult to get dates out of my wife. It has taken a few years but she does at least now let me get her tickets for T-355 days at Xmas & Easter – but when it comes to summer hols, she is a bit of a dragon. We finally sorted summer 2016 (for her) just a couple of weeks ago – whereas the kids & I were ticketed @ midnight on T-355 both outward & return. (She doesn’t get enough hols to do the same dates as the rest of us.) Of course it costs a bit of money extra by delaying but it’s miles better than in the past :)

          • I feel your pain. Have now resorted to just booking dates into OH’s diary – he gets early input into “where” but not “when”.

          • It’s pretty easy when you know your dates of travel a year ahead :)
            Flew into Innsbruck on Saturday, although it was booked a year ago.

        • Wally1976 says:

          Try LHR -> NCE on Monaco Grand Prix weekend! Got my Avios redemption in for the most convenient times at T-355 and shortly afterwards those flights were pricing up at £956 return (economy!). Last time I looked they’d come down a bit but still £800+ I think.

  6. If the Gold Card Member is not travelling and books for someone else, let’s say their mother, can the mother’s credit card be used to pay the fees or does the Gold Card holder have to pay with their credit card?