Sometimes the oddest Avios redemptions can be the best value!

There are many articles on Head for Points about how to get the best value for your Avios points.  This article on ‘what is an Avios point worth?’ is the one I link to most often.

Sometimes, though, you can get great value in very obscure circumstances.  I just saved myself £1,000 over the weekend!

We are currently finalising our family holiday for the Summer.  My wife has already booked us into a family focussed hotel in the Dolomites near Innsbruck for a week.  Because she wants a two week break from the office, she wanted to add a week in Mallorca beforehand.  (You can the German out of Germany but …..)

This meant that we needed to get from Mallorca to Innsbruck on a fixed day in August.  You can imagine, when I typed that request into Expedia, I wasn’t very hopeful.

Amazingly, such a flight exists.  NIKI, the Austrian low cost airline now owned airberlin, flies it.  I couldn’t believe it.

NIKI plane

I then saw the price.  €331 per person, one way.  Impressive pricing for a ‘budget’ airline but it is a Saturday in August.  And I didn’t have many alternatives.

airberlin, of course, is a oneworld alliance member.  This means that I can books its flights with Avios points on


More out of hope than anything else, I went onto to see what was available.  Amazingly, there were SIX economy seats available for Avios on the flight.

I promptly booked four of them!

I was going to pay (€331 x 4) €1,324 which is £1,040.

I paid 30,000 Avios plus £35.

And you can’t argue with that.

I now need to get to the bottom of whether, despite having BA status, I need to pay for a NIKI seat reservation.  The evidence is confusing although the airberlin website thinks I should.  That is a problem for another day though.

(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. Excellent use of points :-) We used NIKI for a flight from MXP-VIE a while back (paid flight, it was very cheap). The weird thing is it was a Meridiana codeshare, which gave us seat selection and checked bags for free, whereas booking on NIKI we would have had to pay for all that. Check in was handled by AB, so we used my QF Plat (OWE) card to get priority check in. The in-flight experience was good, the hosties were young Austrian girls wearing jeans which made for a casual atmosphere, but in a good way. I think there was a snack and drink but can’t remember – you can preorder decent food though. The downside was that they lost our bags, and you get directed to AB for that – who are notoriously awful at handling lost baggage. We only got our bags after 4 days by leveraging a contact at the airport. Good luck and hope the holiday goes well!

  2. Waribai says:

    Nice work Raffles! Have you booked your accommodation? Mallorca prices seem to be fairly high this summer.
    I think 300 euros is to be expected. After all Easyjet are charging £250 from LGW in August.

  3. Londonbus says:

    Well done. I suspect the best use of Avios is for one way short-haul flights – on days like this.

    Devaluation has seriously reduced the value of long-haul premiums – and wih the possibility of cheap cash ex-EUs on Qatar or Cathay – looks better value to pay there.

  4. James67 says:

    I had a similar experience with BA. My partner needed a return flight from Edinburgh to Bangkok on specific weekend dates to meet commitments both here and in Thailand, and as usal insisted on BA (yes really!). After( a lot of grumbling I burned 111000 avios plus almost £1100 booking the flight far in advance, a CW redemption out and WTP-CW UUA for the return. In my view it was a total waste of avios given revenue fares available on other carriers at the time. However, as it happened, the flight filled up fast and soon after booking BA were already charging an astonishing £2000 WT and over £6000 CW for flexible tickets on the same dates. I still think it is a bad option compared to competitors revenue fares but at east now take some comfort that I got great vkue ehen compared to BAs own revenue fares for the flight.

  5. Henry C says:

    Less obscure, but I was surprised how cheap US domestic redemptions on AA are compared to back home.
    Also I can highly recommend the Es Molí hotel in Deia if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Mallorca. Deia is a beautiful village too, give it a go.

  6. V impressive! I just booked 3 tickets from my local airport DSA to jersey middle of August to visit family. Fully expecting to get nothing locally on flybe I couldn’t believe it there was 9 plus seats most days. Even Saturday had 4 seats showing on Cash price for the hop would have been close to £500 with a bag , but 27k avios and £100 was a fair price to me. Threw in another 5k avios I got a car from Avis for £75, cash price £175. So all in I hit 3 flights plus car for a week for £175 in August in jersey. I was pleased to use on a route I expected availability to be be on existent on. Only negative is I had to pay for seat selection to be certain sitting together.

    Avios on line chat also told me that I can use for Thomson package holidays didn’t know about that!

  7. timezonehopper says:

    I recently had to fly my wife and daughter from Hanoi to Tokyo in Business class (my daughter had had knee surgery and needed a flat bed configuration seat). The one-way JAL flights were an eye-watering £1100 each. I paid 37500 Avios and £20 for each flight.

    • Gavin says:

      8500 Avios and £17.50 in charges one way to Larnaca when Y fares are over £300 is my best redemption, getting EC261 compensation and 3000 avios back as service recovery made it profitable!

      • Danksy says:

        I’ve done exactly the same for 5 of us this summer return flights!

    • Was just going to add, we picked up some great value redemptions in Asia last summer. One way cash fares in premium cabins seem quite punchy (£500-£600 for a 3hr flight) and availability was prolific!

  8. Paul L says:

    Could be good to run an article on how BA Gold status carries (lounge access, baggage allowance etc) across other One World partners… And including airlines such as Alaska.

  9. OT Flights begin from Inverness to Heathrow today. Had a look at using Inverness as a starting point for next years USA trip but the 10 am flight back to Inverness is no good for connecting overnight flights.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Last-leg droppers might think a 10am to INV (forcing an overnight in London and a return of bags there) might be a good thing.

      But have you priced INV-xxx-EDI/GLA – that sometimes throws up quite nice fares.

      • Yes I did price it back to EDI and it worked out cheaper but it would mean then having to get the train up to Inverness and then hoofing it back to Dundee from EDI with a ton of luggage after spending a month in the USA either on the train or paying for a taxi which in total would just about cancel out any savings. Mind you I would save the cost of airport parking for a month – will look again!

        • James6u says:

          You could do a ow avis rental and drop off at airport, alternatively europcar and drop off at Jurys Inn (former thistle). Frequent bust to airport from road right besides the hotel. We gave up on the luggage hassle years ago, now strictly handbaggge only. The convenience is worth the cost of hotel laundry service for us.

    • James6u says:

      Unless I’m missing something Liz you don’t need to return to INV to benefit from APD exemption, you can come back to GLA or EDI if you book 2 x oneway. Better still, use AB for return if you cany.

    • Alex Scott says:

      What are OT Flights ?

  10. I’ve routed through Germany using avios on AB several times from Majorca at peak season and short notice to avoid £200+ one way tickets. It’s amazing how much availability AB/Nikki have at peak times.

    • Also found 2 of the worst lounges in the world doing so, Cologne priority pass lounge and Stuttgart BA lounge.

  11. Brian says:

    Friends of mine with BA status generally got free seat selection when booking NIKI flights on Airberlin, so should be possible for you, too.

    Apart from at certain times, when a special offer is running, Airberlin/Niki don’t seem to allow you to buy one-way flights for half the price of a return. Hence the expensive figure you got – a return would have been significantly cheaper – probably even less than what you were quoted for a one-way. Makes it a very good use of Avios, as you say.

    • Concerto says:

      Yes, that was the case on another route that I use a lot (DUS-ZRH) but they stopped it and now offer sensible one way pricing. I’ve got a lot of value within Europe on short notice one way redemptions on both AB and IB.

  12. Sideysid says:

    I think I may of trumped you here Raffles with a flight to Mallorca as well amazingly enough. We are going for a couple of weeks later in the year, but some friends of ours that sometimes come with us on holiday were not sure if they could make it at the time of booking.

    When they found out they could make the dates, flights with reasonable times and preferably from Heathrow were coming up pretty steep. I managed to find a return flight on Iberia that worked out £138 for two adults, one child and an infant. As that’s including hold bags that in itself was a pretty good deal.

    I then used some BA Avios for their flight out. There was only Club Europe available but as it was off peak so this worked out a reasonable 39525 miles and £81 in taxes. The cash equivalent (although we would never had paid this) was £1766 which works out over 4.2p per Avios!

    • Brian says:

      Remember, though, that the value is immaterial if you wouldn’t actually pay the cash. I suspect that Raffles WOULD have paid the cash fares if there had been no Avios availability – after all, it would only be the equivalent of a night or two in Dubai for him! :))

      • Sideysid says:

        Well even at £684 in economy (which they would of had to be looking to pay) it still works out at over 1.5p per Avios which is decent ‘real world’ value

      • We don’t pay for our Dubai trips – they are always booked on Jumeirah Sirius points which you can still get by redeeming Amex points from the International Dollar Card.

        I send my UK MR points to my IDC MR account and then on to Sirius.

        I would have paid this, though, because I had little choice and the alternatives (PMI to xxx to INN) would have been a shocker with the kids and unlikely to be cheaper.

        • Worzel says:

          Seems to me that Mrs R(having booked up accommodation in the Dolomites) was well aware that there are PMI-INN flights when she suggested the week in Mallorca.

          Get those seats selected Rob! :) .

        • Rob, would QR not recognise your status as an AB booking and allow you to reserve the seats? One time we just couldn’t get our AB status recognised by QR but eventually it worked out. Just checking in case anyone else has similar bookings in future. Are they supposed to recognise all OW bookings, or does this not come into the OW category. Confusing, to say the least!

        • Are you finding Amex to be flexible about >1 UK to ICC transfer per year?

          • No, but never pushed it

          • RIccati says:

            Absolutely not, even if the second transfer is from a different charge card.

            It supposed to be a completely different contract/customer agreement. A separate fee has been paid for the second card.

            AMEX doesn’t seem to understand/acknowledge the difference between the physical person and “a cardmember” under the agreement/specific contract.

            One more thing, pointed to them that they can’t link accounts under the same rules unless cardmember agreements (contracts) explicitly provide for that.

        • Wally1976 says:

          Could you do an article about this??

  13. Agree with many of the comments above – we booked a £1200 Cathay business ticket HKG-BKK for 30000 Avios and £27 each! Saving £2400 for 60000 Avios – pretty hard to beat and a chance to enjoy Cathay’s superior (vs BA Club Europe) regional business seat & service!

    • This is a classic example of “real” versus perceived value:

      Would you honestly be willing to pay £1200 for a 2.5 hour one-way flight in J? You can buy a return flight to BKK from the UK in J for sub £1200 in a QR sale. My personal valuation would put this around 1p/avios at best.

      • harry says:

        Yep but we do like to theoretically pat ourselves on the back & where’s the harm in that? There’s generally a decent value saving, at heart. If not the huge one sometimes claimed :)

        On my regular route to our place in the sun, they have gone sticky about CE fares – you won’t get them for less than £500 @ T-355 or anything in peak (school hols).

        But you can easily get them for 15,000 Avios + fees – MASSIVE saving!

        On principle, I wouldn’t do that for a 2 hr flight. Except – they have also just gone sticky on Economy pricing in Peak (yikes!). £125 or £150 gets close to 15,000 Avios + fee.

        And we need 5 tickets! (Only 4 Avios redemptions in Economy).

        So I came pretty close to getting a CE redemption for Easter back next Easter, not much in it but at the end of the day the £ difference swung it, I couldn’t drink anything in the lounge to justify it as a 4 hr drive awaits.

        • I see your point, the “harm” is if you have a limited pool of avios you could be better using them elsewhere, a real valuation helps to maximize your return. I agree though that it feels nice to see the saving against full-price, it’s a similar feeling to buying a discounted sofa for £500 against a MSRP of £2000 (hence why the retailers do it!)

          The HKG-BKK example is interesting as you can buy one-way flights in J on Hong Kong Airlines for sub £200 on most dates. Granted it’s not Cathay, but it’s not Y either!

      • Genghis says:

        +1. I’d like to see an article on avios valuation. Perhaps I should offer to write one…

      • Yes, because I would have no choice in this instance. We paid more than that to get to Salzburg in Y at Feb half term and that involved an overnight and plane change in FRA on top.

      • Londonbus says:

        Quite. How much is Air Asia HKG-DMK with premium on this run?

        • No need to go to DMK, there are plenty of options with Hong Kong Airlines or Thai for £200-300 in J HKG-BKK. There’s even an Emirates A380 feeder flight which can be flown for around £300.

  14. MIA -GCM 9000 avios + £58 round trip instead od £331 cash fare

  15. Jordan D says:

    LHR-ABZ up on the last flight, back on the last the following day to attend a funeral. Cash price was upwards of £500, but secured Avios availability for the round trip. Outstanding value!

  16. JamesR says:

    O/T – I received an email today from Amex/Kaligo with regards to bonus avios on top of usual avios earned for hotel stays. spend £250 – 5000 avios, £500 – 10,000 and a spend of £1000 gets you 20,000 avios.

    What I want to know is.. Does it all have to be on the one hotel? or can it be over various, like the last bonus offer they did?

    • I haven’t seen the email yet but it usually cumulative over the booking period.

    • Polly says:

      I priced up our HKT hotel for nov, and it was £300 more than, the exact amount I would buy those avios20k for, or in and around that. But it was refundable for a change. They are often more strict regards refundable bookings.

      • JamesR says:

        I still think Kaligo can give you a good deal. My last trip I booked 2/3 hotels with them and made about 8000 avios. I think I might have paid £10 above the cost from

        • Genghis says:

          I think with Kaligo you need to do your research. I got 3,200 avios (with sign up bonus) on a £40 hotel on recent holiday to Turkey. Not too shabby

        • I agree James, last year we managed about 40k bonus by dividing up our booking into three chunks. It worked well as the pricing was competitive. It’s just this time it’s more expensive. I always check them first, actually.

  17. OT – 15% bonus on Clubcard transfers to Virgin announced.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Has to converted by June 10th which is tight, or impossible?, for voucher to post and then convert as collection period ends on 28th May

      Don’t know if I should auto convert as would want to wait and see if theres a BA deal

    • Arun T says:

      Also a 1000 mile one off bonus if you set up an auto convert between 1st May and 10th June.

      This along with the Virgin ISA sign up bonus is nicely topping up my Virgin account!

  18. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked in to it Raffles; but the train Innsbruck to Zurich is stunning and pretty decently priced. Not sure how old the kids are but it creates further options, and adventure, for travel to/from Innsbruck … and airports to consider.

    • Seconded – although I started the journey in Vienna. Absolutely beautiful way to spend a day.

  19. Wally1976 says:

    Can anyone beat the value I got for my flights to Nice for the Monaco Grand Prix? 9,000 avios + £35 RFS for flights initially quoted at £956 (10p per Avios) return but now over £1040 (11p per Avios)! If I was paying cash I’d probably have paid £300-£400 for an indirect flight from BHX but even so that’s 3-4p per Avios.

  20. David says:

    I think I’m in the top 10 at least: Had to fly Hong Kong to Chongqing during Chinese New Year (only a 2.5 hour flight), and the low cost airlines had sold out months in advance. The cheapest seat left on Dragonair was quoted as £1,600 in economy (this was only 3 weeks before departure). Booked for 2500 Avios + £52.30 tax instead!