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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.

  • krys_k says:

    At 10.50 pm yesterday I started my booking for CW Copenhagen to NYC. I opened a second window to see, out of interest what a flight LHR to NYC would cost. When it came to finishing the booking, the ba website didn’t allow me to complete the booking as I had two windows open. So I tried again at 11.00pm. Offer no longer available, I assume as it was past midnight and therfore the 20th in Denmark. My bad for not thinking of that, but pretty miffed with ba for not allowing booking to go through. Looked at time zone map in Europe and discovered that Portugal and Ireland are in same zone. No flights from Lisbon in deal, but Dublin was good. Paid £1200 for two tickets instead of £800, not such a great deal, but still good enough.

  • Brian says:

    Slightly off-topic – BA is having a three-day sale from Gatwick, though Heathrow seems to be included too. Tickets from 30 pounds each way to Europe – I didn’t get that, but I did get a return to Amsterdam for 132GBP HBO – this was pricing at well over 200 yesterday.

    • harry says:

      Got me excited there – but LHR definitely not included on all European routes, our route cheapest is £75 OW

  • Graeme says:

    COMPLETELY OT (apologies) – does anyone know if the Amex Gold Credit Card (3000 bonus Avios for Gold Charge Card holders) has ceased to exist? I can get the ‘Click here to apply’ page but the next page has been failing for days.

    • Peter K says:

      Rob has recently said in comments that it seems it is only available to targeted people now, rather than to all.

      • Graeme says:

        Ah, thanks Peter – that makes sense. As a previous holder and canceller, I’m guessing I won’t be one of those!

        • Kathy says:

          I think I must have snuck in and got it just before they changed policy – but I haven’t had the bonus points post. I’m chasing via the secure message centre and crossing my fingers that I’ll get them.

    • Rob says:

      I was told that it is no longer available unless you are specifically targetted. I should have removed it from the Avios Promos list but forgot – now done.

  • Joe says:

    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

    • mark2 says:

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

    • Liz says:

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

    • Relaxo says:

      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

      • Joe says:

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

  • Dean says:

    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!

  • mike says:

    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!

    • harry says:

      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.

      • harry says:

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

      • Brian says:

        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.

        • harry says:

          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.

          • mike says:

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

          • mike says:

            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

          • Rob says:

            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

          • harry says:

            Before 14/10 in my case

          • scott says:

            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 🙁

    • Joe says:

      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?

  • CV3V says:

    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…

      • harry says:

        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.

  • Idrive says:

    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

    • harry says:

      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.

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

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