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British Airways ‘40% off Avios economy redemptions’ offer isn’t the greatest

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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.

The cost for a one-way flight from Hong Kong to the UK is 11,700 Avios plus £19. You can’t complain about that.

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


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 (59)

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

  • Joe says:

    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)

    • Joe says:

      Edit: ignore rant, just realised that Prem Economy get it for free. Sorry, BA!

  • BA forced to lower YQ for awards ex HKG - Page 2 - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] in breach I guess) However, it's not that new: Raffles wrote about this on HFP 10 days ago! https://headforpoints.com/2015/10…comment-144447 CX redemptions have been taxed/charged correctly on BA.com for a long time, I booked one in April […]

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

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