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Taking advantage of the new British Airways Colombo route

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I try to mention new British Airways long-haul route launches on Head for Points, but Colombo in Sri Lanka got missed.

From 14th April, BA now flies three times a week to Colombo from Gatwick. This is not really a new route, because it is being tagged on to the flight to the Maldives. The plane will now carry on to Colombo before turning back to Male and then back to Gatwick.

Unfortunately, unless British Airways intends to offer separate availability, I would imagine that Avios seats to Colombo will be very rare.  Almost all available seats are likely to be snapped by people travelling to the Maldives.

(Interestingly, a post on Flyertalk suggested that there was better availability Colombo-Male-London than there was Male-London, but I couldn’t prove this when I looked.)

There are a couple of things worth knowing, though:

You can buy tickets on the BA flight from Male to Colombo. Club World is around US$600 return for the 85 minute flight.

You SHOULD be able to use Avios points, at the Reward Flight Saver level of taxes. However, ba.com consistently threw up error messages when I was trying to test this.  The American Airlines site also does not show any BA availability.  This is a bit odd as the plane presumably empties massively in Male.

You can also get from Colombo to London on Avios on Royal Jordanian, changing in Amman (potentially to a BA flight)

I mention this because Colombo is one of the cheaper places in the world to start a flight.  If you can get reward flights to/from Male but not in the other direction, there may be good value cash ticket available via Colombo to get you home.

The next long-haul route to launch is Chengdu in China in September. Forward bookings for this are very poor, I understand, so there is a chance it may be pulled before it is even launched. This would be an embarrassing move for British Airways, though, as part of the push for a third runway at Heathrow is the supposedly hidden demand for more flights to obscure parts of China ….


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (11)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • James67 says:

    IMHO LHR to/from CMB makes little sense as an award given the competitive business fares frequently offered by Sri Lanksn. Particularly given thr oppottunity to collect 150% moles on a forthcoming ow member. Have flew them for first time this year and was quite impressed with both product and service.

  • Dominic says:

    Noting the launch of Chengdu being poorly subscribed – is it likely to be a way of getting a good premium cabin redemption en route to Hong Kong, or do visa issues make it not possible to transit through mainland China?

    • joe says:

      You can do international transit here, but timings could be a problem (maybe a 4 – 8 hour lay over), and as the airport is very basic, you would not want to hang around too long. At the moment they do not do the 72 hour visit visa.
      Do not expect, a luxury lounge, the international departure area is very small and you would not get more than a pot noodle and a coffee or beer.

      • pauldb says:

        They may let you leave the airport though during a <24hr stop – this was certainly possible in Beijing before they went to 72hrs. But you'd probably want confirmation from someone whose done it in Chengdu first.

  • R. Saunders says:

    I am aware that the loads in J and WT+ on the route to Male have been very healthy (but there has been a big down turn in holidays to the Maldives) but also noticed that the economy cabin has not often been anything like full.
    Perhaps B.A. are hoping to fill the Y cabin?
    ~Not for me….. there are easier ways of getting to CMB.

  • joe says:

    In Chengdu, there is a lot of investment in local industry. I have just spent 5 months working here this year and from what I know from other ex pats working here, the 3 times a week KLM flights to AMS are usually very full. Eithiad (and Qatar shortly, more Avios options next year) from the the middle east fly here and AIr China are about to launch flights to Frankfurt. I was also lucky enough to bump into the local Chinese BA rep here and was informed that, as its only a 3 day week schedule, if you wish to fly back to the UK on a non flying day, then you could be rerouted via HKG with Dragon Air to connect with BA overnight for the same price as a return from Chengdu. Its a hidden gem in China well worth spending time, in and around the area.

  • Phillip says:

    “Interestingly, a post on Flyertalk suggested that there was better availability Colombo-Male-London than there was Male-London, but I couldn’t prove this when I looked.”

    I have found this to be true too!

  • PB says:

    BA awards are an issue on continuing flights from third countries, even when BA has rights to transport passengers between them.

    BA GRU-EZE-GRU systematically shows non-availability… even though they sell revenue tickets for this segment and flight leaves far from being full on all cabins.

    I suppose the MLE-CMB route to be following the same pattern.

    • pauldb says:

      Don’t think BA have operated EZE via GRU for at least a couple of years now. Other short hops in the Caribbean do seem to show award availability.

  • Mikey says:

    Data point: Was able to book two seats at 4500 avios each for cmb-mle in april 2014. Taxes/fees were US$45 total. Couldn’t do this online; had to call in. Phone fees were waived, agent knew this wasn’t bookable on BA website.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Mikey, this is very helpful. Wonder why they can’t get it to show online?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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