BREAKING 2: See the ‘Pay with Avios’ for food and drink prices

As a follow up to my main story below on charging for food and drink on board, BA has now sent me some sample ‘pay with Avios’ prices:

Mature cheddar cheese ploughman’s – £3 or 375 Avios

Lightly salted hand cooked crisps – £1 or 125 Avios

Water – £1.80 or 225 Avios

Tea or coffee – £2.30 or 300 Avios

G&T (Anika, please note :-) ) – £6 or 750 Avios

Wine – £4.50 or 575 Avios


It could have been less generous, I suppose. At around 0.8p per point there are worse ways to spend your points (but obviously far better ways too).

(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.)

Bits: last day for Tesco ink deals, my Hertz President's Circle card arrives, Lufthansa to take over airberlin short-haul
BREAKING: British Airways 'buy on board' menu published
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  1. Ah!!

    Thank you Rob!

    I was about to ask if you were going to write a breaking post about that.
    You do.

    Five posts/threads today!!!!

  2. I guess the large numbers of people who collect small amounts of avios with no plan for them will enjoy getting a ‘free’ sandwich for them rather than pay – and BA gets to mop up a lot of outstanding avios.

    • They could have done much worse than 1p for Avios, e.g. £3.75 a sandwich.

      Redemptions are hard to find and taxes to pay on Avios are through the roof.

      Plus for an occasional, economy class traveller it is a problem to accumulate miles (you have to apply for an AMEX BA card or collect at Tesco!).

      Where BA/IAG will be losing out (if people think Avios are for “free” sandwich) is that less people get into habit/business of air miles collection, the loss of powerful loyalty tool.

      • Yes but someone who earns a few hundred avios from an economy flight might be more loyal knowing they get a free sandwich next time – compared to knowing they’d get a free flight if they hit a target they will never reach.

        With v low avios earning in economy, a divide may be opening between people earning avios in economy to only ever spend on snacks and people in other cabins earning to redeem on flights.

  3. Can we earn Avios for buying food is the question? lol

  4. so how does it pay for BA to be paid in Avios?

    or does it mean that its cheaper to pay for food than allow them to be used for flights?

    • I would’ve imagined (though Rob will know) that the quantity of outstanding avios are some kind of liability on IAG’s balance sheet, since they have to allow them to be redeemed in future. Letting people spend them at a poor rate for something which was previously free would reduce that liability.
      Obviously they’re no better off if the avios would’ve otherwise expired, but it might make sense from an accounting perspective?

      • Yes and no.

        BA has to pay cash to M&S for the goods now.

        • Surely they had to spend cash on catering all along? What else would they have paid for it with…?

          • A fair amount of their catering looks like it was wiped off someone’s shoe after the dog had done its business. That may be free…

        • Yes but there is a reason why they would do it. I’m thinking aloud here and I’ve no idea of numbers but assuming BA make a 100% mark up on the food and value avios at 1p on their balance sheet, using one avios to pay for food would:

          Dr Liability 1p. Decrease the value of the liability
          Cr cash 0.4p. BA would spend this on M&S food stuffs
          Cr P&L 0.4p. This would be the mark up on the food with my assumptions
          Cr P&L 0.2p. Ie. Releasing a small profit on the difference between the what the avios liability was charged at and what the avios was then used for.

          Perhaps if someone who actually does the accounting for FFSs reads this, please critique.

  5. If you want a night out (note: this is a BA comp, not a HFP one!):

    To celebrate the partnership, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the annual M&S food ball where guests enjoy a three course meal and celebrity entertainment. Five runners up will also win M&S goodies.

    To enter, simply email, quoting the name of the famous M&S pig in the subject line by 6pm October 4, 2016. Please remember to include your contact details. To attend the M&S ball you need to be available on October 11 at The Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London from 6.30pm.


    • Have you not tried to buy water at a Rail station lately? Always shocks me.

      • There is still competition, M&S Food, Boots and even Little Waitrose — rail stations in London have supermarket presence.

      • Buy water at a station?

        Only a fool would do that… When they could buy a Telegraph for less than a bottle of water and get a bottle of water “free”!

        • Or just buy the water from one of the numerous shops near the train station.

          Or be less wasteful and drink the “free” water from the tap!

          • I don’t buy water full stop but millions do. I was reflecting on how much is charged for it.

          • Would love to find a tap I trust to top up my water bottles at a train station!!!

            Heathrow T5 has, if I remember, 2 maybe 3 across whole terminal – one water fountain at each end of the terminal. At least the US ones I have frequented have one at every “bathroom” (aka toilet).

          • Lewis Watson says:

            Am not sure I would drink the water from the tap in a train toilet

      • You have the option to take from home / work. With airlines you have to take an empty bottle through security and then fanny around trying to fill it up.

  7. 1 months subscription to the Sunday times travel magazine will get quite a few items for £2.50 😉

  8. Off topic: there’s an increased sign up bonus of 40 000 nectar points for Nectar Amex for October applications. Found on the Nectar app.

  9. I can see the screen the only people buy food on board will be those paying with avios points!

  10. They bloody better provide free food to status holders that have lounge access otherwise I’m taking a bottle of champagne and a picnic with me from the lounge when I fly economy and I expect thousands of other status holders will too.

    I just flew Club Europe on a short trip. The outbound was on an ex-BMI A319, it had the blocked off middle seat but the larger (34″?) seat pitch. It was OK, though I missed the wider, more comfortable, 2×2 seats. The seat and the meal reminded me of what it was like to fly economy 15 years ago. Standards have fallen but it was OK.

    The return leg was unacceptable. The A320 had the new 29″ seat pitch. It’s one thing to offer club passengers a decent meal on porcelain plates, and it was a good meal. However, I’m 5’9″ and not pudgy and I had to eat with my elbows out to the side because the plate was too near. It was awkward to eat and no one else was able to eat with dignity either.

    Speaking of dignity, I was on another club Europe flight in March. An large but not obese American was in 1D in front of me. The seats are narrower in the first row because of the tray tables in the arm rest. The poor man literally whimpered while stuffing himself into his seat (I would have offered to swap but I was travelling with my partner). He probably booked club expecting a true 2×2 layout as the US carriers have, and a couple years ago he would have been able to fly comfortably with his dignity intact.

    I spend 10k+ a year on flights. Less of that will go to BA. If you are going to give me the same mean space as a low cost carrier, not provide me food or even with complimentary soft drinks, and charge 50% more for the privilege why should I fly BA. Oh of course, it’s the bottle of champagne from the lounge..

    • I think they’ll just about manage to cope without you…

      • But it isn’t only one person BA are alienating., it’s people paying biz rates.

        Put together with the lounges being full of third party payers to the point that biz custs can’t get in then what’s left for biz pax apart from the little dividing curtain between Club Europe and econ?

  11. What is not mentioned that you will have to pay tax, handling fees and service charges in cash, about £3.50 per item.

  12. going to be cheaper to pay for lounge access & fill your pockets

  13. Whoops! :-)

  14. So what about existing bookings. I have 4 return flights coming up which promised free food and drink when I paid for the ticket and entered into a contract with BA.

    I typically have 2 G+Ts on a flight plus a snack.

    (2( £6 G+T) + £2 snack)8 = £112 BA has cheated me out of. And the same again for each of my three family members.

    £112 x 4 = £448 which is enough to make a Small Claim Action worth it.

    Any chance of getting £448 out of BA (or 60,000 ish Avios if they would prefer)

  15. OT Nectar amex: 40,000 (at least £200) for application in OCTOBER with £2000 target spend. Check under ‘my offers’ in your online nectar accounts although it might get advertised more widely. Be wary of going via TCB if it is a special link for the 40k. Personally I’m a bit gutted as I applied earlier this month but I hope a few others benefit. Sorry for the OT here as opposed to Bits thread today, I thought more would see it here.

  16. @alastairtravel says:

    Personally I dislike the overall concept but I think the pay with Avios while not great value is a very good softener for passengers.

    It will also encourage more people to join the Executive Club which BA will be very happy with from a marketing / data point of view.

    Even if you are not interested in saving for flights – on many flights you take you would effectively have a ‘free’ sandwich or drink.

    Probably not very interesting for readers of this forum, but I can see this going down well with the occasional traveller or even the regular traveller not bothered about redemptions.

    • Just a thought but does this give avios a hard value that HMRC may be able to use to value them as a taxable benefit? In the past they were hard to give a value as taxes needed paying and the cost of the redeemed service was so variable.

      • No, they have always had a hard value if used for certain items like hotels.

        If Avios went 100% redemption on revenue then there could be a view taken that it is revenue. However, cashback, credit card points etc are seen as a rebate on spend.

  17. Barry cutters says:

    I love percy pigs

    • Colin The Caterpillar. What I miss most about banking is that when someone had a birthday (one every 10 days) they would head down to the More London M&S and buy a couple of Colin The Caterpillars.

  18. Just called them regarding on a few economy short haul flights I booked in advance for next year. The assistant offered 1,000 Avios per passenger per booking. I am not able to cancel them and book with other airlines since the flight prices on other airlines are roughly the same as what I paid or even more expensive now.

  19. Scott Rice says:

    It’s a disgrace – they are penny pinching everywhere now – pay for luggage (even if gold); pay for seats; pay for food and now for a bottle of water.

    I like using avios on short hall breaks etc.

    The lounge is going to be full of people ‘panic stocking’ for the flight.

    Soon scratch cards !?!?

  20. If they take it a step further maybe it could be a good thing.
    1. Widen the food selection
    2. Allow you to pre order and pay in advance
    3. They simply bring you your order to your seat with no faffing about.

    They need to genuinely make the quality something worth charging for and get around the stress in the cabin of payments.

    I also think they should offer free drinks,

  21. Will the next step be restricted lounge access like in the US?

  22. I actually think BoB will make my weekly shuttle runs more entertaining. Filling an empty coke bottle with 2 cans of the Cornish beer in the GF lounge. Lift one of the loo rolls too. Hell why not hey? If BA are going to be petty I will be too. EU261 when applicable ? I’ll claim instead of taking the view that flying is public transport and I won’t always arrive on time. Treat me like a thick piece of meat and I’ll behave like a cow. Moo moo.

  23. I may be in the minority here but this is actually a BIG improvement for me. Before this I had basically no food anyway as no real free alternative for my wife and I was available. This made BA basically a non-option. Now I have a reason to utilise Avios short haul especially as i can buy food with Avios as well. RFD is actually back on the menu for us now, no pun intended.

    • * previously no gluten free option

    • Barry cutters says:

      I’m not gluten free but agree with you. Before you were given a biscuit or a mini pack of Crisps. Now I will have the option to buy something more substantial. I think this is an improvement . And paying for drinks . It’s not the end of the world , how many drinks do you really want on a 2h flight, I guess it’s different if you are going on holiday as a family of 4/5 , but 90-% of my Europe flying is for work, so I’m entitled to claim food/drinks anyway. this was bound to happen. How could they possibly afford to keep up against easy jet/Ryanair if they have to provide unlimited free drinks -never mind the lost sales revenue

      • How they compete is simple, they’ve got a monopoly on LHR, their prices are higher than LCC’s and they still get full planes plus they have things like lucrative contracts with Royal Mail to put European mail in the cargo bay (that’s why there are about a million flights a day to Düsseldorf afaik).

        If the prices come down then great. If they remain expensive and there’s buy on board, hmmm.

        You actually get more leg room on Ryanair!

  24. Surely people will simply buy their food at the airport and take it on board? Good news for airport shops.

  25. Barry Smith says:

    I have to say that I wondered whether this could work against BA in the long run. Many people are unaware of avios and don’t collect them. Therefore, many people are losing value without realising it, while BA saves this.

    I think this increased awareness of using avios for purchases will mean that this value is realised but also add administrative issues which is undesirable when passengers aren’t loyalty focused.


  1. […] how many Avios you earn in Economy Class these days, using it on food is a VERY poor use of Avios. Head for Points has done the mathmatics already calculating it at […]