Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Avios changes 3: understanding the new spending rates

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

The changes to, and devaluation of, Avios / British Airways Executive Club announced yesterday are hugely complex and the three articles today are simply scratching the surface.  I will return to this topic tomorrow.

Key link: ‘Club Changes’ page on

Here are the other articles in this series you may have missed:

1. Understanding the new tier point rules

2. Understanding the new earning rates

4. What is an Avios point worth now?

5. Exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule

6. Why are off-peak upgrades now more expensive than peak?

7. Save 43% of your Avios on long-haul redemptions if you fly Iberia

8. Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on

9. What will happen to airline partner earning rates?

10. Are you a winner or a loser overall?

Avios wing 15

Remember that you can continue to book at the current rates until April 28th.  The FAQ in the link above implies that date changes (but only date changes) made after April 28th will not trigger a repricing either.


The one upside on the spend side is that BA now guarantees to make two Club World / Club Europe and four World Traveller / Eurotraveller seats available on every flight for redemption.

Ironically, this was not done to benefit you but to help reassure potential purchasers of Avios Group that British Airways would make a guaranteed supply of seats available.

It is not yet clear if ‘two means two’.  airberlin, Etihad and Air Canada – off the top of my head – are airlines which do not release more than two seats in Business Class and are thus out of bounds for families.

It would, surely, be suicidal for BA to re-focus the Executive Club on business travellers – who are more likely to have dependent children than the students and pensioners who are being jettisoned – and then not make enough seats available for a family?

The peak and off peak calendar

The key change is the introduction of a calendar of peak and off peak dates.  Roughly 1/3rd of the year has been classified as ‘peak’ (marked with a ‘x’).

Calendar 2

When you think about it, there are some obvious flaws to this idea:

  • Peak dates are based around UK school holidays.  Whilst flights are busy at such times, they are very low yielding (see BA’s £1,007 tickets over Christmas in Club World).  Surely a good time to encourage people to burn Avios points is a time when you can’t sell many high priced cash tickets?
  • It takes no account of seasonality.   You will pay a premium to fly to Dubai in August even though you would have to be crazy to do so.
  • It takes no account of peak holiday periods in other countries.  If you live abroad and want to visit the UK when your kids are off school, it may well be a cheaper off-peak time.  UK families will be pushed into peak redemptions.
  • Whilst I don’t want to argue with BA’s modellers, Christmas Day is NOT a peak day.  Planes are generally empty and fare are rock bottom.  I have flown on Christmas Day in the past.

What no-one seems to have spotted yet is that the Iberia Plus calendar of peak dates is totally different to the BA calendar.  Iberia treats January 8th to March 17th as off-peak, for example, whilst BA has the two half-term weeks in February marked as peak.

On these peak days, it will be cheaper to transfer your Avios to Iberia Plus and book from there as you will be switching from a BA peak date to an Iberia Plus non-peak date.  The downside is that BA redemptions booked via Iberia Plus cannot be cancelled or changed.


The prices of economy redemptions are unchanged.  During off-peak periods they will actually reduce.

On long-haul, of course, economy redemptions are often terrible value for money.  This may change if fuel surcharges are reduced aggressively.  The only exceptions are when travelling at super-peak periods, when you are not staying over a Saturday night or when you only need a one-way ticket.

Redemption chart 2

For comparison, here is the existing chart:

Avios bandings

Premium cabins

The picture is not so rosy in other classes.

Currently BA runs a 1 / 1.5 / 2 / 3 system for pricing across World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World and First.

This is moving to 1 / 2 / 3 / 4.  Club World pricing goes from 200% to 300% of World Traveller so a 50% increase at peak periods.  First goes from 300% to 400% so a 33% increase at peak periods.

The increase is smaller off peak – Club World tickets increase by 25% in Band 9 whilst First tickets increase by 13%.

In practice, this means a California Club World ticket going up from 100,000 Avios to 125,000 or 150,000 depending on travel date.  Dubai goes from 80,000 Avios in Club World to 100,000 off-peak or 120,000 peak.

Partner awards

All partner awards are now priced as Peak pricing.

This effectively means a 50% increase in Business Class and a 33% increase in First Class.

At off-peak periods, two planes flying identical routes (eg BA and Cathay to Hong Kong) will cost a different amount of Avios points.

The infamous Dublin to Boston run in Business Class on Aer Lingus will increase from 50,000 Avios to 75,000 Avios return, for example, plus £75 or so of tax.  It will remain 25,000 Avios return in Economy.

Partner chart for two or more oneworld carriers

The little-know partner chart for rewards involving two different oneworld airlines, neither of which is BA, will presumably also change.  It has not yet been released.

Upgrade pricing

There will be some minor improvements here.  However, some of the comments I saw yesterday got the wrong end of the stick.

From December 2015, you can upgrade World Traveller tickets in Y, B, H, K, M, V, L, S or N ticket buckets.  This is an improvement over the current Y, B, H.

However, you will still only be able to upgrade by one class.  World Traveller will upgrade into World Traveller Plus.  As this is a very small cabin it is unlikely that very many seats – one or two per flight at most – would be made available for upgrades, and these seats will also be available for full redemptions.

On short haul, this may be a more genuine improvement as Club Europe availability is often OK.

The cost of long-haul upgrades will increase because it will remain the difference in cost between the ticket you have and the ticket you want.  Upgrading to World Traveller Plus to San Francisco will be 50,000 Avios return compared to the current 25,000 Avios.   The increase is due to World Traveller Plus redemptions increasing in price by 25,000 Avios.

Free domestic feeders are abolished on European redemptions

When Avios launched, both BA and Iberia offered free connecting flights domestically.  Iberia abandoned the idea within a year.  BA is now abandoning it for short-haul but retaining it for long-haul.

European redemptions now make little sense if you live outside London.  Hamburg would be 18,000 Avios + £70 per person with the ‘joy’ of changing in Heathrow thrown in.  easyJet would probably sell you a cash ticket from your regional airport for £70.

I see the logic in what has been done, because APD alone meant that 9,000 Avios + £35 was a bad deal for the airline.  It didn’t help that BA allowed stopovers in London because this meant APD was payable on both flights.

This could have been handled better.  The Reward Flight Saver taxes could have been capped at £35 even though the number of Avios doubled.  Stopovers could have been banned to save BA paying out additional APD.

What has been done has effectively disenfranchised a large part of the Avios customer base outside London.

Click for the next article – What is an Avios point worth now?

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2024)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (203)

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

  • ADS says:

    The changes make economy redemptions on AA look even better value – I just flew on a 10 hour flight for 4 gbp plus 25,000 avios – one way.

    And can we force BA to rename as London Heathrow Airways ?

  • jason says:

    On iberia plus can you use, the amex 241, on BA flights?

  • Colin says:

    So from what I can gather I need to make plans firm. We are looking to go to New Zealand Jan/Feb 2016. We have Total of 140k AVIOS and anticipate getting my first AmEx 2-4-1 Voucher by March .

    BA don’t go to NZ so how best to use the above? I can see it could well be in our favour to book anything before 28 April, on the understanding that fuel charges don’t change significantly.

    Or is there any possibility that BA may run some kind of promotion to encourage ‘savers’ further to depart with they Avios!

    • Rob says:

      Your best bet is potentially to get as far as you can with 140k in Club World (eg Tokyo, China, HK, Kuala Lumpur) and see where you can pick up a cheap cash ticket from there to New Zealand?

  • rich says:

    So, is it true that BAEC only guarantee the extra seat availability for one year? If so…cheeky.

  • nogoingback says:

    This is so frustrating. Was waiting for a Tesco bonus so I could convert the points I received from the Life Insurance deal.
    I would appreciate some advice please…
    I am intending on flying to Florida for my birthday next May with a 2-4-1 which should be issued at the end of Feb. So do I book in April with random dates? What happens when my preferred outbound date in May becomes available? Do I just change it and pay the fee and wait for outbound to become available? But surely the system won’t allow the outbound to be before the inbound?
    Thank you!

  • linda says:

    Can I just ask , if we book reward seats for say next March (when they become available) can we change to a later date in the year with just the change fee each. Have BA actually said they will allow this and not incur the new Avios needed. As surely most people on reward vouchers will be doing this?

    • Rob says:

      You (almost certainly) cannot move beyond 12 months from the date you book, because of the restrictions on booking airline tickets.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.