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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 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.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 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

30,000 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 (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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.

  • RK says:

    You can also use your Lloyds upgrade voucher with this to get premium Economy for the 40% off economy avios rate(I checked). Still with the taxes, except to the exceptions you highlighted, it is hard to get excited about this compared to say the recent Club Europe or £500 off CW deals.

    I really wish BA would reduce their LH fuel surcharges. It makes long haul avios bookings in any class very uncompetitive compared to the current rock bottom fares (e.g. there are sub £280 return flights to LAX from Oslo with KLM next next month, BAs taxes are £100 higher on an avios economy booking)

  • Lumma says:

    Taxes on Moscow are only £35 with reward flight saver, not £70. Shame the visa is so expensive and difficult to apply for.

    • Costa says:

      …and they are £9.70 on the return leg, if booked separately (so £28 in total).

  • JQ says:

    There are fuel surcharges out of Hong Kong, but these are set by the government, rather than the airlines, although they still go to the airlines. Currently the departure tax is GBP10 and the fuel surcharge is GBP9 for long-haul flights.

    If you do a search for HKG-LHR, has an error as it initially shows the incorrect taxes and fees (around £128) on the page where you can choose your flights, but the correct amount is shown later.

    BA Y (to and) from HKG is abysmal, but I would do it at this price. Normally the discount for off-peak is not worth it when there is CX availability, unless I need to arrive in LHR at 0430. However for WTP I prefer BA.

    • James67 says:

      Thanks JQ, was just about to ask questins both about the pricing and the service because the ex HKG fares I was quoted were £119 ow and £313 return. I was almost tempted, moreso to try out Y on an a380 for the first time. Is it really that bad? I figured it would have the 19 inch wide seats, and probably a little better pitch than other aircraft too. Still it’s a long way to London on a long overnight flight at end of a long day.

      • James says:

        I think BA fitted unnecessarily small seats on their 380’s, they aren’t like the Emirates ones (for example) at all.

  • Paul says:

    Thanks for posting the list of taxes, something of an eye opener. I simply would not consider BA for long haul Y travel as given the weakness of their premium products their Y product must be very poor.

    • Erico1875 says:

      Its not. You get fed, you get drinks. Seat back tv. Staff have always been good when i have done it.
      The only real difference is you get champagne and a big seat.

      • James67 says:

        Erico, have you done longhaul Y on BA a380, how was it?

        • plastikman says:

          Little cabin on the upper deck at the back was great (as Y goes). 2-4-2 formation I think.

        • Erico1875 says:

          I havent done 380 and I cant remember what planes it were each time we have done Y to Mumbai.
          All I can say, service has always been miles better than Finnair and Qatar Y.
          We may have been unlucky these flights, but the crew on these were as miserable as it gets.
          BA on the other hand were always excellent, as were Emirates..

          • RK says:

            I agree BA Y is better than most. I’ve done BA Y and CW recently on the A380 and service or food wise, there was very little difference in CW (the food is obviously better presented and served in courses, but no amazing difference taste wise). CW is all about the seat.

        • James67 says:

          Thanks to everbody for your feedback. Decided to pass in the end, I expect/hope there will be richer pickings around the turn of the year

  • Scott says:

    I’ve tried a few dates in August to new York but can’t seem to find any dates with a discount only standard avios prices am I doing something wrong?

  • Andy says:

    Don’t forget KLM, I have seem them do LHR to DXB via AMS return for around £270 cash recently.

    • JohnG says:

      Just emphasises how limited the use/value of Avios is if you wouldn’t otherwise spend decent money on premium class travel if you’re in Europe.

      • harry says:

        But Avios still very good for standard RFS tickets in Europe, saves us a couple of £grand a year.

        Does somewhat depend on your ability to acquire the Avios, in quantity. for a song.

  • Sean says:

    If you make a change to a sale booking after 2nd November would you get charged the full Avios for the revised booking? The dates I am looking for are not yet available. Thanks

  • ee says:

    OT. Thanks Raffles for the heads up on the £400 club fares to NY. Late last night managed a booking for CPH-LHR-JFK and return. I added a stop over for a couple of months in London which added about £90 to the price but gives the foundation of a later weekend away in CPH. Also managed to upgrade our LHR to JFK segment to First for 20k Avios each. Great deal!! Thanks!!

    • Cormac says:

      +1 Thanks.
      How did you go about upgrading to First – was that during the booking or after? Have tried upgrading on our booking that we made a few days ago (family of 5 for <£1900), but don't currently get the option to upgrade. Get the message – Sorry, it is not possible to change this booking on Please call your local British Airways office to change this booking.

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