Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

It’s bye-bye to Air Passenger Duty on long-haul Avios redemptions from certain UK cities

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As I wrote yesterday, a selection of Flybe flights are now available for redemption using Avios points on ba.com.

I was probably a little harsh in that article on the value you can get from these redemptions – it seems I picked a bad example.  Readers were happy to show me Flybe flights priced at up to €360 which were available for 4,500 Avios points.

Flybe flies to a number of small airports in the UK where the Air Passenger Duty regime does not apply

Flybe London City

To quote from the Flybe website here:

The UK is the most taxed aviation market in the world, with the possible exception of Chad

The following [Flybe] departure airports are already exempt from APD : 

Benbecula, Barra, Campbeltown, Guernsey, Islay, Inverness, Jersey, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Stornoway, Tiree and Wick

The following routes are already exempt from APD:

London Stansted – Dundee

London Gatwick – Newquay

The ability to avoid APD applies to any flight which connects to a flight from one of the airports above.  This leads to some impressive savings.

Let’s take the Cathay Pacific flight from Manchester to Hong Kong.

A one-way business class redemption on that route costs 60,000 Avios + £187.

(By the way, Cathay Pacific is offering EIGHT business class seats for redemption on that route on some flights.)

However, if you book Inverness – Manchester – Hong Kong, the cost changes to 64,500 Avios + £70.  A saving of £117 may not be enough to make it worthwhile buying a one-way ticket to Inverness to start your trip, but if you live in Scotland it certainly looks attractive.  Similar deals are available via London if you fly down from Inverness and connect to a Heathrow or Gatwick flight.

Here is another example:

Heathrow to New York in Club World, one-way, costs 40,000 Avios + £351.

However, if you book Newquay – Gatwick and Heathrow – New York, the trip costs 44,500 Avios + £222.  You save £129 per person.

So, some good news if you live in Cornwall or northern Scotland.  The impact of the Avios changes has just been sharply reduced.  Other HfP readers with time of their hands will also be able to make modest savings if they fly to Inverness or Newquay to start their redemption.

(PS.  You only ‘lose’ the APD on the Newquay to Gatwick route.  If you use Flybe to fly from Newquay to Manchester or Stansted, full APD will be charged.)


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 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 £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. 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

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) 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 (37)

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

  • Marta Briongos says:

    Very nice sleeper train service to Inverness too, if you have Red Spotted Hanky vouchers!

    • Allan says:

      Nice Idea, but you can’t book the sleeper via RSH

      • Chris says:

        Sadly this is true, however there is an East Coast service daily at 12:00 from King’s Cross to Inverness that there is usually decent rewards availability on if you have EC Rewards journeys to use up.

        Stay overnight in Inverness (Pentahotel is recommended – there is nothing like checking in whilst enjoying a cocktail – avoid the Mercure at all costs, or there is a Thistle that Raffles posted about a few weeks back and you could avail of the Sunday night free and have a weekend in Inverness before your holiday) then fly the following morning.

        • richie says:

          there is no way i would take a train from london to aberdeen just to fly back to london to avoid apd. i would rather take a eurostar to bru

  • Phillip says:

    Do we think this was part of the plan to reduce alienation of people travelling from the regions following the Avios devaluation? Or just coincidence?

    • xcalx says:

      No Benbecula, Barra, Campbeltown, Guernsey, Islay, Inverness, Jersey, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Stornoway, Tiree and Wick have been exempt from APD for years…

      • mark2 says:

        surely Jersey and Guernsey are exempt from all UK taxes as they are not in UK.

  • DONE4 says:

    Wouldn’t using two BA partners mean the multi-partner award table is used?

    Or is there an exception for domestic connections using FlyBe?

    • xcalx says:

      “Wouldn’t using two BA partners mean the multi-partner award table is used?”
      That was my first thought also.

      • Rob says:

        No, I priced it yesterday. These Flybe flights are all BA codeshare routes – even though you are booking them with a BE flight number – which may explain it.

    • Rob says:

      It priced up yesterday as I show it above.

  • John G says:

    Is it not just easier to fly JER-LGW on BA and then get the free tag on rather than spend extra on flyBe?

    (If you are based in the south that is!)

  • Tom euflyer says:

    “The UK is the most taxed aviation market in the world, with the possible exception of Chad”

    Love it. My redemption flights to N’Djamena will just have to wait I suppose.

    • Rob says:

      I couldn’t resist pasting that line in, even though it is from a different part of the page!

      • Mike says:

        “The UK is the most taxed aviation market in the world, with the possible exception of Chad”

        Great line….but isn’t Canada right up there as well? For redemption and cash tickets, our next redemption trip will cost only $86 in taxes…versus appx $600 in Canada. Per ticket. (roughly same travel distance).

        Cheaper to fly from the US than from Canada (US border cities are great for North American travel).

  • Joe says:

    For most travellers not in Cornwall or the Highlands and Islands, the very modest savings made by routing via Inverness or Newquay are far outweighed by the time and expense of getting to any of these places from most urban centres in the UK. A train or flight ex London – Newquay or Inverness requires an extra day of annual leave for most people. But, at least it’s some good news to those who don’t live in London.

    • Rob says:

      Different people have different priorities, though. If you’ve got the time to kill then you can save a few quid and have a day out as well. It clearly isn’t for everyone, but neither is hubbing via Jersey or Amsterdam. There are people who enjoy flying around for the hell of it, and if they happen to save a few quid then even better!

      I suspect the lack of a fantastic airport lounge at any of these places will be more off-putting than anything else!

  • Adam says:

    To get this lower APD, i take it you would need to book the flybe and the connection flight in one transaction on avios or do you need to phone the call centre?

  • James67 says:

    Another great post Rob, I’m coming back round to avios! Some snags though. Dundee which would have been awsome is not loaded in BA. Inverness is loaded but does not seem to be offering me availability to HKG or BKK via London although it does for HKG via MAN. Presumably because initial flight isn’t BA the stopover option facilitating three sector itineraries is also not available. Do you think these difficulties could be overcome by going via call centre. Tip for those using Inverness.
    : Travelodge and HIE at retail park are only 5 minutes drive from airport and there is also a frequent bus service (10 and 11) direct to/from airport that also links rail and bus stations. These buses also stop outside Thistle Inverness which is nicer hotel only a few minutes further away. Inverness is a fantastic place for short break so makes the effort for savings more worthwhile. Even for those not taking a car you can have day trip around Sky by coach or a day skiing in Aviemoreis only 40 minutes away.

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

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