At the time, a lot of people felt deflated by the product. BA had been making noises for a long time about allowing Avios points to be used for revenue fares, but the actual implementation was a damp squib.
It turned out that you could only redeem for short-haul and you could only save £30 maximum. This was the offering:
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 maximum saving is reduced by 50% to £15 if you are booking a one-way flight.
British Airways has now announced two improvements to the scheme.
The maximum saving is increased to £50 per person at a charge of 7,500 Avios points.
This is valid on the following routes: Agadir, Athens, Bucharest, Beirut, Casablanca, Catania, Gran Canaria, Istanbul, Kiev, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Malta, Marrakech, Mykonos, Paphos, Pristina, Santorini, Sofia, Tenerife, Thessaloniki, Tirana
For BAEC members based in Europe, I understand that the discount is increased to £50 for 7500 Avios from any starting point, as long as you connect to a long-haul flight. I have not been able to test this, however.
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 remain unchanged:
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?
This change is a minor improvement to ‘Part-Pay With Avios’. I still feel it is a missed opportunity, though. 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 acceptable although – as you cannot redeem for the full cost of a flight – it would not have hurt BA to be a little more generous.
It remains a clever marketing move on BA’s part. 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.