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.
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 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.