‘Part-Pay With Avios’ launches TODAY – use Avios to pay for cash tickets

British Airways Executive Club and avios.com will today announce the launch of ‘Part-Pay with Avios’.

Full details can be found at this page on ba.com.

I have mentioned on Head for Points in recent months that BA was planning to introduce this. It is now with us but, to be honest, it is less exciting than I hoped. That said, a lot of people will find it useful and it doesn’t disadvantage anyone, so I welcome it as an additional benefit for the Avios programme.

British Airways

This, in a nut shell, is what you will get:

When booking a UK or short-haul European flight for cash, you can redeem Avios to receive a discount on the price.

You can choose the level of discount:

Save £10 per person by redeeming 1,500 Avios per person (0.67p per Avios)

Save £20 per person by redeeming 3,000 Avios per person

Save £30 per person by redeeming 4,500 Avios per person

The discount will be available on one-way as well as return tickets. You can therefore double the maximum discount to £60 per person by booking a trip as 2 x one-way tickets rather than as a return.

Because you are buying a cash ticket, albeit at a discount, you will still receive the usual Avios, tier points and On Business points for the flight.

The other key rules are:

You cannot part-pay Air Passenger Duty or any equivalent foreign tax. What this means, in practice, is that you cannot redeem 4,500 Avios to reduce a £30 one-way ex-UK ticket to £0, because £13 of that is Air Passenger Duty. In such a scenario, the maximum discount offered would be £10 for 1,500 Avios.

Only BA operated flights are valid, not codeshares (so, for example, only BA flights to Madrid can be discounted, not the ones flown by Iberia with a BA flight number)

Any itinerary with a non-BA flight on it will not be offered ‘Part-Pay With Avios’ even if it also contains a UK or short-haul flight

You can only book at ba.com or via the BA call centre

It cannot be combined with promotional discount codes or ‘flight plus car’ / ‘flight plus hotel’ packages

It CAN be combined with Hotline and shareholder discounts, and presumably the MBNA Diamond Club credit card 10% discount

It works OK on the new ‘hand baggage only’ fares

If you are in a Household Account, you will be allowed to use Avios to part-pay flights for people who are outside the Household Account

The Avios are deducted from the account of the person making the booking, even if the other passengers have their own BA or avios.com accounts

Moscow and Tel Aviv are excluded as they are classed as long haul

What do I think?

I am a little disappointed by this. It does not nothing to help people who have large Avios balances and would be happy, for example, to redeem 100,000 Avios for £670 off a long-haul flight, assuming the same pricing logic applied.

The price of 0.67p per Avios is roughly what I would have expected. It needed to be higher than the 0.57p that BA values them at if you redeem for a hotel room, which it is.

Will I do it next time I book a European ticket? That is a good question. My gut feeling is that I probably would – I would be saving £240 on tickets for my family of four (assuming we booked 2 x one-way tickets instead of a return), and that is a noticeable amount of money. I also have a lot of Avios points, so I tend to value them lower than most people.

Let me be clear, though. For BA, this is a clever move which should pay off for them. On many routes, a member could use Avios to bring down the cost of a short-haul flight to less than the cash cost of easyJet or a similar low cost carrier.

It will also remove the common complaint of ‘I can’t use my Avios because there is no availability’ – although I would have been a lot happier if it was possible to pay for 100% of a flight this way.

Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below.  There are plenty of Avios staff who read Head for Points and who will see them!

Full details of the scheme can be found here.

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  1. Interesting…maybe it puts forward the question how many Avios would you trade per Tier Point?

  2. The lack of long-haul makes this pretty disappointing, the chance to be able to use points to pay the BA fuel surchage would be welcome. I don’t live in London so rarely fly BA short-haul , this doesn’t make the Avios scheme anymore attractive me for me.

  3. Phillip says:

    Completely agree Raffles. A welcome option, does not disadvantage anyone, but would be good to allow some wider spending. Even though the straight up calculation is 0.67p per avios, you are still earning so that can potentially be of more lucrative value, especially during sales! The only annoying thing with splitting tickets to maximise the discount, for status (especially silver and below) members, is the complexity of free seat selection at the time of booking!

  4. But 2 oneways will be more expensive, and the return will be priced in Euros/Francs/Krone(o)r etc. Can’t be bothered to do the maths before work today but you are saying that BA will still give you at least 500 avios for the flight so 0.67p is probably OK

    • Not necessarily, 2 x one-way should be roughly the same for European short haul flights. You occasionally get some technical differences based on point of sale, ie BA may be holding back some cheap tickets to be sold ex-Germany – which you would access if you booked 2 x one-ways – which are not available if you book an ex-UK return flight to Germany.

    • When I was commuting LHR-BRU, I found the price of 2 one-way flights to be consistently cheaper than the return – only by perhaps £1, but still different, and still cheaper.

  5. But how long before this replaces RFS?

    • Hadn’t thought of that as an eventual outcome, but considering that RFS has been dropped with no notice from Iberia Plus, I guess it’s not out of the question 😮 That would be detrimental to the program as it would course such a devaluation!

      Perhaps this is simply a move to offer more flexibility to those with low Avios balances though, rather than a move to replace, and of course it benefits BA since they get redemptions made at worse value to the customer, and they will presumably get more bookings from people who would otherwise not fly due to low point balances.

  6. Over the weekend I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the best value on flights to Prague. Looked at shareholder discount, one ways, part cash part Avios and book and upgrade.

    This offer would not have helped to be honest as we booked club Europe in the end using Avios. It would be interesting though if such bookings were eligible for upgrades either at point of booking or later. That might make them a bit more attractive.

  7. Disappointing ?, much much worse than that for me.

    Useless IMO, and what is worse, almost definitely the thin edge of the wedge.

    Avios from today now have a defined flight redemption value. Not be long before RFS is removed, and then possibly the notion of redemptions as we know it entirely. Instead of being able to get a biz flight to the USA for 50k plus taxes, will sometime in the future that 50k just get you £335 off the flight. And if that does come to pass, gone will be the zero/low taxes for AA flights within the US, EI flights etc, it’ll just be money off the full fare. On the plus side, redemption seats won’t be an issue !

    I fear this is a forrunner to a complete and major devaluation of the programme, possible on a drip by drip approach.

    • Sinizter says:

      I too feel that this is the beginning of making Avios only for cash equivalent discount.

    • I think that is too cynical. This move is primarily an attempt to win back short-haul leisure traffic which has been lost on price grounds to the low cost carriers.

      For the same reasons, I don’t see it being extended to long-haul and am a little surprised to see it on Club Europe short-haul.

      • It’s definitely an attempt to win back short-haul leisure traffic. One of the key messages in the press release is:

        “It enables them to realise real cost savings – as much as 38 per cent off in some cases – on European flights, so flights to somewhere like Barcelona could cost as little as £48 return and 4,500 Avios for someone on a hand-baggage only fare.”

  8. It may well be that BA just wanted to test the waters on short haul flights to begin with but with a view to extending it to long haul flights if it works and proves to be popular.

    • There were certainly long haul options given in the survey regarding this roll out.

  9. I too am disappointed that the valuation is on the low side, though it would always be as they are giving low-balance members a foot in the door, and traditionally you will always get worse value when only exchanging a few points for a redemption (ironic then that you actually get worse value for long haul redemptions). A bigger shame that there is no long haul option to complement it. I was a participant in the survey regarding this some months ago. While I can’t remember the options suggested, I do recall I was disappointed then and pointed out that I saw this as an option for BA to devalue Avios.

    On the plus side, it helps those with low balance, and gives “redemption availability” where there would previously have been none. That said, I’ve generally found good availability for RFS redemptions, and considering this is only offered short-haul, that’s all it addresses. RFS seats within South Africa are few fewer, so it would be beneficial there by offering greater availability and redemption options.

    Notice that if you can get £10 discount for 1,500 Avios, while that translates to an initial valuation of 0.67p/Avios as mentioned above, in reality on a redemption/RFS you would earn no Avios for the flight, while here you do. So on a short-haul earning 500 Avios oneway, it is effectively a redemption of only 1,000 Avios for the £10 saving, hence you are getting 1p/Avios value – not bad. Likewise, the £20 saving option is effectively 2,500 Avios or 0.8p/Avios value, while the £30 saving option is effectively 4,000 Avios or 0.75p/Avios. It doesn’t take a genius to see that far better value is attained from the smallest redemption option, namely £10! So if anyone is that short on Avios that they can’t afford a RFS, then they can still get 1p/Avios value through £10 redemptions and of course using less Avios per flight means being able to spread your low balance across more flights. The savvy flyer will realise that while a proper RFS or redemption earns no status points, this way you can achieve the same redemption value, yet also earn status.

    So as long as this isn’t the “beginning of the end” for redemptions, and while RFS options do still exist, there are benefits for all.

    • Phillip says:

      At the other end of the scale, the longer shorthaul flights to places like Athens, Istanbul, Paphos and Larnaca, can also prove of good value… With one way fares on these routes starting at £85 ish, and earning a minimum of 1500-2000 Avios each way, you can pretty much replenish all the avios used to get the discount in the first place!

  10. Remember as well guys that this can be used on any flight not just ones which have Avios redemption seats 🙂

  11. absolutly no interest to me. i do not save avios points with the grand aim of saving £30 off a short haul flight. Im in it for the long haul, business and first travel. althoughi am considering transfering some tesco points over to virgin as their 30% bonus looks quite attractive. And they have low economy taxes. iv been waiting too long for a ba bonus, and im sitting on £600 tesco points.

  12. My current feeling is it’s a useful option to have but I’ll only ever use the 1500 option to maximise value (I usually fly London-Stockholm which earns 900). I lost Bronze this year after using too many redemptions so this should enable me to get some sort of status back. I’ve also found that RFS availability has crashed on my preferred route until June so this is another short-term benefit for me.

  13. Frenske says:

    Not too bad. Basically this a permamently £10 discount on my regular return flight to Oslo since it earns about 1500 Avios. Unfortunately flights are usually ridiculous expensive.

  14. littlefish says:

    This initiative, and RFS, will need a good chunk of targetted marketing if BA is going to entice people to make a value call to BA from the LCCs.
    I just can’t see enough new punters using their 3,000 avios balances to save £20 to make this work for BA. But here’s hoping.
    For the rest of us this is normally going to be too much of a marginal proposition to make the BA business case.
    One thought:
    This might work as a way to keep large balances live past 3 years, by making a small 1500 avios spend whilst saving for a big redemption;

  15. Data point:

    MAN – LHR – MAN for a sunday to Wednesday in Feb. hand luggage only


    – £10.00 for 1500 avios
    – £20.00 for 3000 avios

    This booking will earn you 1000 avios