If you have only started to collect Avios points in the last three years, you won’t remember how the system worked when it was BA Miles. Instead of the £35 Reward Flight Saver fee to cover taxes and ‘charges’, you had to pay the full amount – well over £100. This made short-haul economy redemptions terrible value.
(On Business, the British Airways small business scheme, STILL charges full taxes and charges on short-haul redemptions. The upside here is that they have far better availability than Avios. When cash prices are high you can usually still find an On Business redemption seat and make a decent saving, even with £100+ of tax.)
Miles & More, the Lufthansa / Swiss / Austrian Airlines scheme, has always charged full taxes on short-haul redemptions.
I have often wondered how they manage to charge what they charge and keep a straight face. Frankfurt to Lisbon, using an example from their own marketing material, is 30,000 miles and Euro 142 for an economy redemption. Very scary stuff.
You do have the option of using another 18,000 miles to pay the taxes but of course that then means you are paying 48,000 miles for a European economy return flight!
Things seem to be loosening up though.
An email from Miles & More is offering me a Euro 66 discount (Euro 33 for a one-way) on redemptions booked and flown before 25th March. That Frankfurt to Lisbon flight would now be ‘just’ Euro 76 plus 35,000 miles return.
This ‘special’ deal is only available on the following routes:
Flights to/from Germany from Lisbon, Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome
All domestic German flights
It will still cost you 30,000 Miles & More miles, of course – or 15,000 if you redeem in the two weeks before departure, when redemptions become better value.
That said, if you have 30,000 Miles & More miles sitting around I still would not use them on a return flight to Frankfurt – you could get a one-way business class redemption for 35,000 miles to the Middle East from London via Frankfurt, Zurich or Vienna instead!