How to avoid paying for your BA flight until 5 weeks before departure!

British Airways Holidays recently made a very quiet change to their terms and conditions.  I’m not sure why they didn’t publicise this as it is actually an improvement!  I mentioned this yesterday in my article on the BA sale but it was a throw-away remark and you probably missed it.

When booking on BA Holidays, you had to pay the final balance within 10 weeks of departure.  This has now changed.  You now only need to pay the balance within 5 weeks of departure.

It is VERY easy to turn a potential ‘flight only’ booking into a BA Holidays booking.

All you need to do is use the ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ options on  You need to add some accommodation or car hire to your stay, but this can be as little as two nights.

The added benefit of doing this is that it can save you money.  You will often pay less for a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ booking than just for the flight.  This is because British Airways sells you a different – cheaper – sort of flight ticket (don’t worry, you still get Avios and tier points!) which is made exclusively available to travel agents.

Even if the price is the same or is marginally more expensive, you may feel that it is a price worth paying to give yourself what could be a substantial period of interest free credit.

BA Holidays

How it works

Your ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car hire’ booking is confirmed as soon as you have paid a deposit.  This will be:

  • Package value £300-£999 – pay £150 deposit per booking
  • Package value £1000-£2999 – pay from £300 deposit per booking
  • Package value £3000-£3499 – pay from £350 deposit per booking

I’m not sure what the ‘pay from‘ element represents.  I am guessing you need to pay the higher of 10% or £350 on larger bookings.

Following the recent rule change, the balance is not due until five weeks before departure.

You can pay installments at any point up to five weeks before departure.  This is another benefit – you can split the cost across numerous credit cards if necessary, unlike a straight ‘flight only’ booking.

And an Avios bonus!

By booking a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ package, you get an extra bonus.  You receive 2 Avios per £1 for your booking.  This is in addition to the Avios from the flight and from your credit card spend.


There are a couple of small downsides you should note.  Flights booked via BA Holidays do not qualify for On Business points in the BA small business scheme.  Secondly, the comments below suggest that you will not offered cash upgrades via Manage My Booking on a BA Holidays ticket.


The deposit is lost if you cancel your booking, except in the rare circumstances where the flight you have booked was a fully refundable one.

This is another benefit of booking your flight as a BA Holidays package.  Whilst a ‘flight only’ booking is normally non-refundable, you can – via a BA Holidays ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ package – walk away from your booking by forfeiting the deposit up to five weeks before departure.

Full terms and conditions of BA Holidays packages can be found on this page of

(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. Although they charge you to pay with a BA American Express card….

    • I found the same. Quite annoying

    • I think that they charge on the deposit (unless you have recently relocated to the Ukraine). Balance payments don’t charge for credit cards.

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        This is correct – they charge you on the first payment but not on any subsequent ones.

  2. Mud Island Mlungu says:

    I paid off the difference on Thursday and no extra charge on my BA Prem Amex card.

  3. James67 says:

    Great post Rob, thanks for focussing our thoughts on full potential. It struck me that this is a good way of booking an expensive trip and delaying payment until you need to hit a spend target on a credit card that might otherwise be difficult to meet due to timing. There is potential too to improve cancellation benefit to being effectively free of charge. I am sure most of us in the regions are familiar with the majir seasonal timetable adjustments and which flights BA have a habit of cancelling. Adding one of those connections to an itinerary could potentially result in a fully flexible ticket if schedule changes are unacceptable.

  4. Do you get tier points for flights on BA holiday bookings?

  5. Rob. Useful article to remind people. Few observations from my experience of ba holidays.

    Customer service with any issues has been excellent pre travel. Talking to a human in Newcastle really is useful! Also I often find its worth taking a screen shot of the extra avios due to you on the booking, as they rarely post the correct amount. Last time I rang I was asked how many extra avios are you due then?!

    Also check very last minute aswell. IE this coming weekend if you can. I’ve found some cracking bargains by booking flight and hotel last minute, if your able to shoot off with no notice. Finally make sure you print off vouchers that come with the holiday. Most car rental companies and hotels didn’t need it but one was a real pain so don’t assume they will have you down and just turn up.

  6. Cheshire Pete says:

    It should be said that there are disadvantages too with booking a BA Holiday just for flights. As BA view the booking as a 3rd party travel agent, you will not be offered any potential PAUGs. Your class of flight will often be booked into very low selling classes, quite often only generating just 5 tier points. It is so hit and miss as you cant control this at all. You might get 15 on your outward leg and then only 5 on your return as BA Holidays books block seating. I then discovered one time that when you try and then upgrade your ticket on the day or try and use Avios to upgrade they look at the initial booking class and then it turns out far more expensive or simply not do able at all.

    So you need to weight this up with your style of travel.

    • Strange as for Europe I have found BA Holidays often using the class that earns 10 TP’s.

      By the way, you can check your booking class before you book by clicking on the flight number.

  7. Cheshire Pete says:

    Oh, and as I travel from the regions, the recent change in policy for interlining now rules out making it worthwhile transiting via Heathrow via BA Holidays. Often the best deals are for starting your journey in London and not Manchester. So being able to wrap your Domestic around a BA Holiday is now not worth the extra inconvenience. Sometimes you actually have to book the domestic separately as unlike booking Flights only, BA Holidays is unable to wrap around a thru tickets if one of your legs requires an overnighter due to an early or late flight to/from Heathrow. So you can’t physically make a thru booking. This would now leave you open to also losing your entire Holiday if BA cancelled your Domestic and you couldn’t get to Heathrow in time. Dum-de-Dum

    • BA-BA interlining is now generally being reported as continuing as per the old days. Not seen any official BA memo on it but people on FT saying check-in agents are happy to book your luggage through to final destination on 2 BA PNRs/ bookings.

      Probably doesn’t give you extra legal rights though? (in the event of missing connection)

      • This is apparently ‘discretionary’ ie at the discretion of the check in agent. So, basically, pointless – you can’t rely on it.

  8. Can you book the same holudays via and get their higher earning rate?

  9. Stephen Coulter says:

    Is there a penalty if you don’t actually use the car hire or hotel?

    • no

    • Genghis says:

      No. Flying on Norwegian yesterday something made me laugh. Stated in the magazine, I could buy a 50ml Jäger from the cart for SEK50 or a 500ml from the shopping trolley for SEK110 (v reasonable price IMO). It said that you are not allowed to consume shopping items onboard. What they gonna do if I did? Chuck me off?

      • The_Real_A says:

        Consuming your own alcohol on a flight is actually a serious legal matter. If you did this, and refused the crews request to stop – i would expect priority exit of plane (escorted by local police)

        • RIccati says:

          But in this case that would also be an alcohol sold on board.

          One can argue that airline should foresee and take appropriate care, e.g., by offering the on-board shopping closer to the end of flight.

        • Genghis says:

          After all this flying, I didn’t actually realise it was illegal to drink your own alcohol on a flight. Not that I ever have.

          • Maybe a UK thing. I’ve seen cans of beer for sale in the CDG / LCA version of WH Smiths i.e. not a Duty Free shop, presumably you can take these on the plane and drink them.

            • 500ml Lowenbrau cheaper than mineral water in ‘our’ airport, about £1.25.

              Not sure you can drink it on board, though!

    • No

      • In theory no. The T&Cs for the car hire for mine tomorrow says they can charge no-show fees. Although I needed the car so getting flight & car for cheaper than HBO fare was good. Particularly as it includes checked luggage and gives seat selection which is a big bonus!

  10. Bluejosh says:

    Looking for summer holiday with family. Flights to Crete in August 1900 quid for 4. Too much for me. Flights plus apartment plus half board – 2000! Combo saving was 1300 so suddenly 12 nights in Crete in August went from being very expensive just for the flights to being very reasonable indeed. Thanks HFP – would have given up at he flights stage if didn’t follow this site.

  11. MozTravels says:

    Can you use GUF1 and 2’s against BA Holidays?

  12. Re: charging for Amex. Last time I did this – I paid the tiny deposit via debit card. The balance could then be paid off via Amex without fee.

  13. also worth knowing: I was told even if you’ve already booked an Avios redemption flight, say with a BA Amex 241 voucher, but want to add a hotel, you can phone BA Holidays up and they will quote you a lower hotel price than the one you see on an online enquiry.

  14. I just ran this on a seven ticket booking I want to make to Boston in October [2 Adults, 4 children, 1 infant] and the ticket price with a hotel came up as the same, no change whatsoever.

    The points made about AMEX insurance, tier points and the cost of upgrading, even if that is possible, are ones that should be carefully borne in mind. Booking a combo deal may be great if the price is much less or you really think you may need to cancel, but the drawbacks otherwise make it a risky exercise.

  15. Just a few observations from a long time lurker:
    – deposit seems to be straight 10% for higher value trips
    – if you book Club Europe or WT+ or above with a domestic connection you are put in J for the connection so 20TPs and min 500 Avios. The point about low fare buckets must be for Euro/ World Traveller
    – if you need a late flight day before for a morning connection you can book that over the phone for no extra cost – and you get all the benefits of single ticket and J connection
    – if you have made additional payments they are refunded if you cancel a holiday (we did this because First sale was cheaper than a Club booking plus lost deposit – no problem at all)
    – Bonus Avios are slow to post but they will do this manually after a couple of weeks if you phone
    – as others have said, phone service is great
    – you only get hit with one £5 service charge when paying with AMEx, top-ups don’t have a fee. It doesn’t remember your card details, address etc which is a bit of a pain though.
    Hope this helps – we have used holidays loads of times and never had any issues. Flights are no different to a flight only booking and there are often deals which make the hotel or car free (or better than free) if you book in a sale.

  16. OT :
    on travelzoo site you can now buy 25 GBP eurostar vouchers for 5 GBP
    might be useful for those who are planing to book eurostar soon

    • Thanks – and since you can buy more than 1, at 1 per booking, looks like you could redeem 1 on an outward trip and 1 on the return if booked separately. Or indeed 1 each for two people travelling together if you manage to figure out how to get seated next to each other, or don’t mind if you’re not.

    • Good deal. Only 1 voucher per booking.

  17. After extensive research and much reading of HfP, I was happy to use BA Holidays for our honeymoon a couple of years back. We booked 12 nights in St Lucia flying PE and paid for it in instalments using my BA Amex. On the £8.5k spend we netted about 53k avios (25k spend on card, 17k from BA Hoidays, 11k from flying) and virtually all of the spend for a companion voucher. This earned us back the 50k avios which had we spent to UuA to Club on both legs (pre-devaluation, if only you could still upgrade to the Caribbean for 12.5k each leg). I found the service from the holidays team to be excellent and would definitely recommend them.

    If you are planning a big trip it can be a lucrative way to earn some extra avios, spread the payments, have some additional security with the ATOL guarantee, whilst also getting good customer service. As ever though YMMV.

  18. Sussex Bantam says:

    Sorry – 9 months between booking and paying the balance not the deposit.

  19. Kenneth says:

    Can anyone post a quick example of a holiday that works out cheaper, or only slightly more expensive, than a flight-only? Whenever I’ve seen it mentioned on this site, I’ve tried searching and am yet to find one anywhere. It’s it more prevalent in some destinations over others?

    • This weekend: Friday to Sunday to Venice: Flights & hotel is £198 for 2 people (BA598 there, BA599 back) with 2 nights a Tulip Inn hotel.
      Flights (without checked luggage) would be £529

      • Kenneth says:

        Fri 15th BA598, return Sun 17th BA599. Cheapest hotel is Tulip Inn, Padvoa = £554.50 per person. What am I doing wrong?

        • Nothing wrong. It shows as £99/person on first page but once you click through it reprices to £554/person.

    • Matthew says:

      I just pointed this out to a mate today and he’s now booked!

      LHR-SEA 7 Sep to 17 Sep = ~£800pp and so for 3 people = £2.4k
      Now add a car and it reprices to approx £640pp inc the car! = £1.9k.

  20. Doing dummy bookings on the BA page flight + hotel for a week in January with hotel for 2 nights and after entering all details it does not offer you to pay a deposit. Tried the hotel for the 7 days and it lets you do a deposit.
    Tried it with car hire for 2 days too but again it wants full payment. Using safari on my iPad (but not the BA app)
    Any ideas why it won’t let me do a 2 day hotel for a 7 day trip and pay just a deposit?

    • Now you mention it, there may be a 3 day minimum. Try that.

      • Just tried four days and it’s still requiring full payment
        LHR-BOS 21/1/17 – 28/1/17

        • wetboy1uk says:

          Same problem here with only booking hotel for 2 nights out of a 10 night trip to orlando – no option to pay deposit. May work if your trip is only two nights in total but does not work when only booking a hotel for part of the trip no matter how many nights you book

    • 2 nights should be fine, I booked a 2 nighter recently and it offered a deposit. I was going to say is it over £300, but it must be if you are going to Boston.

  21. Damien Keegan says:

    Hi there, the wife and I booked a few weeks ago to go to Barbados 1st October. Club World return flights and Hilton Exec rooms for 2 weeks, just shy of £5K for the 2 of us. Deposit was £500 and we don’t need to pay the balance until 27th August…result!

  22. Damien Keegan says:

    Did it over the phone rather than ‘net.


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