BA ‘40% off Avios economy redemptions’ offer – not so great, except for …

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

British Airways launched its annual ‘big discount on World Traveller tickets using Avios’ promotion yesterday.

On the face of it, it sounds good:

You save 40% on the standard number of Avios required

You pay full taxes and charges

You have until 2nd November to book

You can travel until 20th March 2016

Only selected long haul destinations are included

The reason the deal is not so great is that, such is the scale of BA’s taxes and charges, the deal is still poor.

British Airways

The details are on the Executive Club News & Offers page, you need to scroll down to get to to it.

Here are the participating cities and the taxes required:

Heathrow: Moscow £70, Tel Aviv £167, Cairo £171, Beirut £172, Amman £194, Kuwait £282, Bahrain £284, Doha £286, Jeddah and Riyadh £287, Muscat £289, Abu Dhabi and Dubai £291, Mumbai £293, Luanda £297, Montreal £300, Nairobi and Toronto £302, Montreal and Hyderabad £303, Chengdu, Beijing and Shanghai £311, Chennai, Baku, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur £312, Delhi £315, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York JFK, New York Newark, Philadelphia, Washington Baltimore, Washington Dulles, Bangalore, Seoul and Singapore £317, Abuja and Lagos £322, Vancouver £325, Cape Town and Johannesburg £329, Calgary £330, Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita £336, Accra £342, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle £343, Mexico £344.

Gatwick: Barbados £268, Tobago £274, Orlando £288, Bermuda and Antigua £296, St Kitts £303, Las Vegas £314, Providenciales £318, Punta Cana £327.

Out of season, you can pick up a cash ticket to many of these places for little more than the level of taxes shown here.  Take Dubai, for example. £325 for a return economy flight with a Middle Eastern airline is relatively common these days.  Paying £291 of tax – plus 15,600 Avios in this sale on an off peak date – is still poor.

The BA low fare finder tool throws up the following prices, for example, over the period to March:

Cheapest Dubai ticket £370 vs taxes in this sale of £291

Cheapest Cape Town ticket £705 vs taxes in this sale of £329 (looks good)

Cheapest Tokyo ticket of £546 vs taxes in this sale of £336 (not bad, gets you nearly 1p per point based on using 23,400 Avios off peak)

Cheapest New York ticket of £361 vs taxes in this sale of £317

Cheapest Barbados ticket of £525 vs taxes in this sale of £268 (looks good)

On some days, to some cities, it will be a good deal – see Cape Town and Barbados above.  You could have predicted that these destinations would work well as it is peak season.  Most of the time, I would think twice before redeeming.

One factor which makes the deal better this year is the cut in Avios earned on cash tickets.  Now you only earn 25% of miles flown, compared to 100% last year, it is no longer worth factoring in.

There are three ‘tweaks’ which most people will not spot.

One way redemptions are included – in either direction.  This will benefit some people.

Hong Kong is on the list.  There are no fuel surcharges out of Hong Kong due to local law as long as you are on a one-way or return starting in Hong Kong.

This is the cost for a one-way flight from Hong Kong to the UK:


11,700 Avios plus £19. You can’t complain about that!

Finally, the emails sent out by and British Airways states that ‘No changes or cancellations permitted.’ This line also appears on both the and pages promoting this deal – see here for example.

Is this really true? Some airlines, eg Lufthansa, have different rules which apply to mileage sales. Your booking is non-changeable and the taxes non-refundable. British Airways has never played this game.

If I make a dummy booking at, the cancellation policy shown on the screen is the same as usual – “For bookings cancelled up to 1 full day before outbound departure, a charge may be levied. All Avios will be re-credited to the member’s account and cash will be refunded.”

I am assuming that the latter is correct, as these are the terms showing during the booking the process.  I doubt that the small print of a marketing e-mail would, in court, trump the large print shown on the page before you pay.  In any event, many people will book these discounted seats who never got the original email.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

Exclusive: First review of the new Emirates lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3
Book UK Accor hotel rooms for this weekend for £25-£60 with 'Happy Mondays'

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Nutmeg ad
Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Completely off-topic, but:

    How long do people find that it takes for IHG points to transfer from the IHG Barclaycard to their IHG account? I opened one about 6-8 weeks ago and there has been no transfer yet. I raised this with Barclaycard and they ‘assured’ me that they were looking in to it but I’ve heard nothing. Is this unusual, or just typical Barclaycard ineptitude? Thanks

    • If you want to see ineptitude try to get a Lloyds Avios Reward card and then try to get the Avios!

    • My original sign up bonus and monthly points post about 3 weeks after the statement is produced.

    • It took them 6 months to post my sign-up bonus from the 3x offer ealier this year. And this was only after a threat to report them to the Ombudsman. Even then my bonus pts posted by the spend pts are still missing. Its likely because they dont have your IHG number on file, but good luck explaining that to them on the phone. I would hang on for at least for a couple of weeks after 1st statement before contacting them though

      • Wow. Thanks. I dug out something that said it could take up to 8 weeks, which is next week for me.

  2. Do promotions like these effect availability elsewhere? I’m planning to book at trip to Japan in a few weeks and there’s always been a minimum of 4 first class seats available on each flight but just checked availability now and first is not available for pretty much every flight!

  3. OT – has the 3v scheme completely crashed it would appear you can no longer activate previously purchased 3v cards through the website. Have have gone into administration!

    • I’ve got 1 upstairs, waiting for activation 🙂

      I can test it I guess, hang on there! I doubt if it’s anything like them going bust, they already previously announced they were stopping the cards from supermarkets.

      • £25 paid out, nice & simple, same as always.

      • Your card wasn’t waiting for activation – it was activated when you bought it, I imagine. You simply had to register it online.

        No new cards can be bought anywhere.

        • Yep I bought it a few days ago, which is when it was activated. So sloppy language but you know what I meant 🙂

          So I got the Visa numbers etc same as always.

          • Hi was the card bought after 15 oct 15 – it would appear cards bought after 15 oct 15 can not be activated

          • Here is a quote from a thread on PaidToshop

            “Email sent to 3V customer queries on Sunday afternoon – reply received this morning confirming they are no longer offered for sale as of 14/10. State I should return to point of sale for a refund. (For what it’s worth, Morrison’s customer services by phone said the same thing and said any branch was fine). Next task: persuade a customer service desk gremlin to give me £1500 back!”

            Just looking for some confirmation from HFP – as we are usually the first on to something

          • a) I am on holiday!

            b) I am a little nervous given the UK libel system about repeating some of the comments re which have arrived in my inbox, so I am giving the dust a couple of days to settle

          • Before 14/10 in my case

          • I had £450 worth from morrisons that did not activate got a refund after a lot of fuss hey ho 3v was good while it lasted 🙁

    • FWIW, I found a huge stack of these in a tesco on the weekend. I could not get a single one of them to activate at the till. We tried a number of tills, and the (very patient) checkout girl tried to activate maybe 20 of the cards at each. Very odd. I’m used to them not activating at Co-ops, but I’ve bought plenty from Tescos (and that store in particular) and other than the occasional wobble, they tend to work fine.

      I’ve got some from July in a drawer upstairs – I’ll register them tonight. I wonder if this might mean that we can do free transfers to bank accounts again in the near future?

  4. Just got a similar email advising that meal selection will be available for an upcoming flight (its 5 months away!), but noted that selection will be available for my KUL flight, this wasn’t the case before, wonder if this is part of the new 787 service offering.

    • ankomonkey says:

      I got the mail too. My only current BA long haul booking is next July to Tokyo (not on the eligible route list). So BA’s targetting is not the best here…

      • They all sound tasty. But are they worth the extra money?, would be my question.

        You’re giving up standard fare (there’s a choice) – and don’t forget you can order something a bit better in advance free of charge eg Asian vegetarian, spicy – and yet BA expect you to pay another £15 or so on top to get a further choice, which doesn’t sound much better in quality terms, just in choice terms.

    • Peter K says:

      I have no flights booked and got the email. Seems a general way on garnering more money. However, better choice IS a good thing.

  5. I got the email re food and my next lh flight is for Easter. Remember there is an issue, if you get the preorder meal selection i think you can not upgrade or be upgraded i remember we discussed this last year.
    Anyone remembers this? I can not search and cross reference in this moment, sorry

    • I think it’s just the free upgrade (ie if BA has capacity issues) where you will go down the pecking order & possibly rule yourself out. You would still be able to upgrade yourself & BA would presumably still be able to serve you the food you asked for.

  6. BA really have embraced the Ryanair method of charging for everything, haven’t they? Pay more for premium economy and then pay again for better food. Pay more for CW and pay an extortionate amount for seat selection. They are really backing their catering with this. If the paid-for food is crap, I think customers have every right to complain and demand a refund for it.

    Presumably, those in CW are better off pre-ordering though? I imagine choice once on board will be pretty slim from now on (which is fair enough – pre-ordering must reduce waste)

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.