What is the best value Avios redemption per minute of flying time?

I had lunch with a reader last week and he gave me an old spreadsheet he had put together.  I agreed to update it and tweak it, and we now have a comprehensive list of the flying time of British Airways long-haul routes compared with the Avios required for a Club World off-peak redemption.

Or, put more simply, “What is the cheapest route per minute of flying time for Club World Avios redemptions?‘.

The results were a little surprising, with the winners being the mid-haul routes.  Cape Town is known to be a great deal because it should, technically, be in a higher pricing zone than it is based on distance, but the new San Jose (Costa Rica) route is up there too.  Similarly, Las Vegas and other US West Coast cities are pushing the boundaries of their zone.

The ‘best value’ winner is Moscow.  This is not surprising as it is operated – on some flights – by long-haul aircraft but is priced off the short-haul list.  It is Reward Flight Saver as well!

Note that some of the ‘best value’ routes are only on the list because the flight has a stopover.  In theory you should discount the time spent on the ground, especially as you usually need to get off the plane.

The ‘worst value’ route also came as a bit of a shock.  I would have gone for Boston but there are actually plenty of long-haul routes which are even worse, mainly to the Middle East.

Flight times are based on flights FROM London.  This overstates the average North American flying time, due to the quicker return trip, and vice versa.  Some flights are also slower than others due to the aircraft type or to fit in with airport opening times – I used the first BA flight of the day in all cases.

Take a look and see what you think. This shows you the Avios you need to redeem to get 1 minute each-way of Club World flying time.

DestinationHoursMinutesIn MinutesOff Peak CW returnAvios per MinuteDirect?
Moscow35023034,000148
Grand Cayman1225745125,000168Stops
Abuja61037062,500169
Kuwait61037062,500169
Jeddah55535562,500176
Mexico City1150710125,000176
Turks and Caicos1150710125,000176Stops
San Jose (CR)1140700125,000179
Cape Town1135695125,000180
San Francisco1120680125,000184
Oakland1115675125,000185
Tobago1115675125,000185Stops
Los Angeles1110670125,000187
Cancun115665125,000188
Johannesburg115665125,000188
San Diego115665125,000188
Chicago850530100,000189
Sydney2201320250,000189Stops
Port of Spain1055655125,000191Stops
San Jose (CA)1055655125,000191
Phoenix1050650125,000192
Austin1045645125,000194
Grenada1045645125,000194Stops
Las Vegas1040640125,000195
Baltimore825505100,000198
Washington DC825505100,000198
Houston1030630125,000198
St Kitts1030630125,000198Stops
Santiago1440880175,000199
Philadelphia820500100,000200
Male1020620125,000202
Amman5530562,500205
Dallas1010610125,000205
Sao Paulo1210730150,000205
Toronto85485100,000206
Beijing105605125,000207
Kingston105605125,000207
Tampa105605125,000207
New Orleans100600125,000208
New York80480100,000208
Hong Kong1155715150,000210
Mauritius1155715150,000210
Buenos Aires1350830175,000211
Fort Lauderdale950590125,000212
Miami950590125,000212
Seattle950590125,000212
Bermuda750470100,000213
Tokyo1145705150,000213
Chennai945585125,000214
Orlando945585125,000214
Atlanta940580125,000216
Beirut45029062,500216
Cairo45029062,500216
Tel Aviv45029062,500216
Vancouver940580125,000216
Rio de Janeiro1135695150,000216
Boston740460100,000217
Bangalore930570125,000219
Bangkok1120680150,000221
Montreal730450100,000222
Shanghai1115675150,000222
Calgary920560125,000223
Abu Dhabi720440100,000227
Hyderabad910550125,000227
Punta Cana910550125,000227
Singapore1250770175,000227
Seoul1055655150,000229
Muscat715435100,000230
Dubai710430100,000233
Bridgetown855535125,000234
Mumbai855535125,000234
St Lucia855535125,000234
Kuala Lumpur1225745175,000235
Antigua845525125,000238
Luanda840520125,000240
Nairobi835515125,000243
Doha650410100,000244
New Delhi830510125,000245
Lagos640400100,000250
Accra635395100,000253
Bahrain635395100,000253
Riyadh625385100,000260

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Comments

  1. O/T Rob – Read your replies re. “50 Shades” advert auto scrolling. This page auto scrolls to the bottom ad too.

    • There is no ad at the bottom – the 50 Shades ad ended last night.

      • Adey, you need to get over this – there were only 10 complaints apparently. No big deal. Few people use Apple Macs nowadays, its no longer 1984.

        Move along now, nothing to see here.

        [tongue firmly lodged in cheek]

  2. I think the avios per minute need to be halved given your pricing is for a return while your timing is for one way?

    An interesting table, though the cash component should probably also be included if you want to find the “best value redemption” (much more complicated I know!). My best value, for example, would be Hong Kong – especially if you’re only flying to London where the total cash component is around £25.

    • There must be a way to “web scrape” the average cash price of a business class ticket to each of these destinations over the course of a year, and thereby factor in the opportunity cost of using Avios, which makes this a full and relevant analysis. (I’d be surprised if somebody out there hasn’t done this already!)

  3. Interesting read.

    I’m a little confused though. The calculation used is for the Avios per minute based on the 1 way flight time but the return mileage therefore all the Avios per minute should be half what is shown??

    I.e. Moscow should be 34,000 miles (return cost) divided by 460 minutes (return flying time) = 74 Avios per minute.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I would agree but dividing by two would not alter the order so in that respect the table remains valid in showing the best value.

      However for me, without price factored in it is an interesting but meaningless proposition.

  4. Hingeless says:

    Surely the best value should relate to other factors including the price of the ticket?

    I would personally rate the best value Avios redemption I have made on other criteria such as getting to where i wanted when i wanted

    • Agreed on the above, Time should match the Avios.

      It should also show cheapest and avg cost of a CW ticket.

      CW 241 Aviois rtn to Maldives is pretty good value if you want to fly in CW and were wiling to pay ££££

      • 11 hrs 20 to San Fran and 9 hrs 45 to Orlando. Official timings, yes but the last time I flew to SFO and MCO it was around the 10 hrs 30 and 8 hrs 15 respectively.

        • Pricing is meaningless though. There are cheap alternatives to pretty much everywhere if you want them and are prepared to go ex-EU. Even places rarely reduced, like Tokyo, are a short hop on Avios from somewhere like Seoul which is easily available cheaply.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            Yes, other carriers are available as our other loyalty schemes and other modes of transport. But it’s not meaningless to have BA prices for a BA table. The headline after all is “which is the best value Avios Redemption”.

    • Agreed. What are we supposed to do with this info? I choose places I want to go and then work out the best way to get there. Knowing Kuwait is towards the top of the list would not make me want to go there

      • You’re not meant to do anything with it :-)

        Just a bit of fun, for info only.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Don’t buy into the logic of using minutes as it’s inherently inaccurate due to the wind variable.

          Wouldn’t it be easier to calculate Avios needed per distance flown?

          • Don’t buy into the logic of using distance flown as it’s inherently inaccurate due to the wind variable (and other factors). 😉

          • And flight times often differ substantially on the return leg.

    • Agreed. For me, flying to Boston is better value than flying to NYC, as I have friends there (saving hotel nights!) and can easily pick up a cheap Jet Blue flight to anywhere else I want to go. Plus availability is usually better than to NY. And I’d rather go Virgin UC!

  5. Would a points savvy Nigerian who wanted to fly LHR-LOS increase risk levels and fly to Abuja and then pick up a domestic, saving 37,500 avios less say £150 return for ABV-LOS? Answers on a postcard.

  6. Some people have too much time on their hands!

  7. OT – Has anyone NOT had the 250 avios post for joining the Aerlingus Aerclub?
    Supposed to post end of January but nothing yet – the avios helpdesk have no clue whats going on and said to contact aerclub, guess what aerclub say? to contact avios of course…. going round in circles which doesnt seem worth the effor for 250 avios quite honestly

    • Neither I, nor my wife, have had them credited. Haven’t bothered chasing though as it hardly seems worth it for 250 Avios. I just know that I won’t go out of my way for any other promotion that they may offer in case they won’t work either.

      • Neither Mrs G or I have received the 250 avios.

        • A couple of well placed Facebook posts will put them to shame at least…

          • Nothing, haven’t bothered chasing. Flying EI in a few weeks so will see if earning Avios for flying triggers the bonus (though seems unlikely).

      • I also haven’t received them!

        • avidsaver says:

          +1. Flew EI for the first time Gatwick/Dublin/Orlando return Dec/Jan. Requested Avios to be credited to BA Exec A/C. Nothing posted to date. Have telephoned and sent email request to customer services three weeks ago and still waiting for a response. Luggage was also mislaid and delayed for three days. NOT impressed with Aer Lingus so far.

    • I haven’t had them either.

    • I avoid flying domestic in Nigeria due to safety of domestic flights so for that reason I would fly Lhr-Los direct.

  8. I’m a data nerd so think this is fascinating. Is anyone surprised at how little different there is in ApM between destinations. It’s as if the zone-based pricing actually works.

    • I’m a lowly, “mere” nerd, with time on my hands!

      I Should have even more time in a couple of weeks (holiday), when I’ll look into the question posed by Genghis at 7:17 am.

      Might have difficulty writing my findings on a single postcard though?

      We’ll see :) .

      • :)

      • Use the twitter approach – write the url of your 20 page thesis on the postcard!

        • Blimey!

          The question posed by Genghis was difficult enough; and now you mention a “twitter approach” and “writing a url” !!

          Apologies Genghis, I’m going to have to renege on the idea and will now dust down the half read Enid Blyton book I took to Corfu last September- hoping to finish it!

          :) .

  9. Fun article Rob. The best one (though not using Avios) I found so far was Sao Paulo – Barcelona – Singapore – Sydney in Singapore Airlines First/Suites Class with a total of 31 hours of flying for 119,850 KrisFlyer miles :) I’d argue that beats the miles per minute price and BA Club World 😉

  10. SCL-MAD is 13:55 for 51,000, giving Moscow a thrashing.

  11. the real harry1 says:
  12. Fascinating methodology and some surprising results, but given that BA (with the exception of SYD) doesn’t charge Avios by sector for direct one-stop flights, it might be more accurate and objective to calculate Avios per minute for destinations such as GCM and TAB by using the result for NAS or ANU and adding the extra time (from ist to 2nd landing) as a cost rather than a quantifiable benefit.

    • Agreed, which is why I flagged those up. Seemed a bit of a low return on effort to separate out the calcs for those few, however.

  13. Thywillbedone says:

    Agreed re Moscow. Just booked a trip in J which is good value …they used to run a 747 on this route which was great to get upper deck on such a relatively short route. Now it’s either a 777 or the ex BMI A321 which are not bad either.

  14. It would be interesting to see the extras per person (apd, departure tax, etc) needed for a reward flight from the UK on a similar comparison table.

  15. Great post Rob. Some of your followers are ungrateful miserable old gits.

    • +1 (although I suspect some are actually young gits)

      Personally I like a bit of variety in the posts

    • …and some of us are grateful, cheerful old gits!

      • You could be jumping to conclusions here?

        I’m just a grateful, grumpy old git!

        Cheerful…..?

        I wonder what happened to young Ben this morning ( comment 7:34 am ) -maybe he/she(?) got out of bed the wrong side- having not allowed enough time…….?

        :) .

  16. I’ve just been starting to think about where to blow some Avios and a 2-4-1 this year, so this is really timely for me. I didn’t have a specific place I wanted to visit so this should help make the decision. It’s interesting to see some of the places that I would have thought would be a decent deal, really aren’t at all.

  17. Excellent table Rob. As a collector who wants to travel to far-flung places around the world getting the best value for my points is great. Knowing I could travel a few hours more hours on the same amount of Avios would definitely alter where I visited next, just to enjoy the full experience.

    • many people would prefer to travel for less time, including me.

      • This table should be useful to you then so you can find places with little travel time :)

    • The table is so full of caveats and missing information I don’t think it would be any use at all in calculating the best value.

      Even if you’re going to ignore things like the additional charges or what the equivalent cash ticket costs (in itself a big mistake – im flying Hong Kong to London then Spain to London to Santiago (Chile) for Avios plus £160, MUCH better value than most of that list!), I would personally find the maps I saw on one of the Flyertalk guides showing the band boundaries on a map to be more useful anyway.

  18. Can’t believe people are proposing enhancements to make this useful! Its for fun people, not a tool to help you chose which flights to take.
    Me: I fancy a trip to Kuala Lumpur
    Rob: Wait though you are paying nearly twice as many Avios to fly there per minute as you would to go to Moscow!!
    Me: OMG….you are right, I’ll go to Moscow. I’ll make sure to Putin a good word for you whilst there!!!

    I love things like this Rob, thanks for publishing it.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Tbf 1 way distance and return Avios means all the avios/min were doubled that’s probably worth a fix.

    • Well I can’t believe people find a useless implementation of a potentially useful idea to be “fun”, so I guess we’re both perplexed!

    • If you are going to KL, Simon, rather than hang around and see the sights you’d actually want to see, you should absolutely take an internal malaysia airlines flight somewhere on business promo fare (book 7 days in advance) as you’ll be getting 40 tier points for about 50 USD, and experience business class for a brief amount of time.
      No but seriously, places like Penang and islands on the east coast are well worth seeing I’m told (and good tier points, avios meh..)

  19. Rob, I notice that Denver – where we are going with our next Amex 241 – is missing from your table,

    • Wouldn’t a similar short haul table be more useful because at least the tax is same for all flights? Although it doesn’t tell you anything meaningful that the map with bands can’t tell you anyway.

  20. Less fun but of potential more interest perhaps is the total financial cost of Avios flights where you assign a value to the Avios and you compare it to a cash fare.

    If you value an Avios at 1p each then long haul redemption flights, even using an Amex 2for1 are terrible value in business class.

    Here’s some examples per person using peak dates (Amex 2for1 in brackets)
    New York £1,730 (comes down to £1130 using an Amex 2 for 1)
    Singapore £2,660 (£1,610)
    Dubai £1,720 (£1,120)
    Sydney £3,700 (£2,230)
    Moscow £450 (£250)

    Scary numbers.