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‘CombiFare’ (one-way cash, one-way Avios) may be coming to British Airways, copying Virgin

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British Airways appears to be gearing up to launch its own version of ‘CombiFare’, the innovative Virgin Flying Club feature which I have praised in various articles.

This is based on a new customer survey which went out to various British Airways Executive Club members this week.

CombiFare is a very simple idea which makes perfect sense – which may be why Virgin Atlantic is the only airline so far to do it.

Virgin Atlantic 350

It is hugely frustrating to find that you can book half of a reward ticket but cannot find seats for other leg.  On short haul flights it isn’t so bad, because British Airways sells one-way fares on its short-haul routes which you can match with a redemption seat in the other direction.

On long-haul it is usually a different matter.  In general, the only one-way tickets you can buy on long-haul routes are hugely expensive flexible tickets which cost substantially more than a refundable return ticket.  This is no help at all with your award planning.

CombiFare changes all this.

As you can read here, the Virgin Atlantic version of CombiFare allows you to book a flight with one leg booked using Flying Club miles and the other leg booked for cash.  The key  is that the cash element will be 50% of the equivalent return ticket for the same flight, not the extortionate cost of a one-way ticket.

Virgin only allows CombiFare based on Economy and Premium Economy, not Upper Class, although you can mix them with an Upper Class redemption leg.

Here is an example of how it may work with British Airways:

a return World Traveller Plus flight to New York for your dates is £1,000 cash

an Avios redemption is available for the return but the outbound flight is not available.  A one-way World Traveller Plus ticket would cost £1,750 as BA only sells flexible tickets as one-ways.  This makes the whole trip impossible.

with CombiFare, you could call BA and they would allow you to book the return flight using Avios and the outbound flight for £500, ie half the cost of an equivalent cash return ticket

There are various tweaks to this formula.  Which classes are included?  Can you mix and match classes (you can with Virgin) flying Club World on Avios outbound and back for cash in World Traveller?  What are the cancellation policies, given that the cash element is based on a non-refundable ticket?  Can you book the cash flight in a refundable ticket class for more money (you can with Virgin)?  Could it be combined with a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher?

It isn’t clear when British Airways is looking to roll this out, if indeed it does, but it will be a valuable addition to your arsenal for those people ‘in the know’.  Virgin Atlantic has always struggled to sell the CombiFare concept to a wider audience, however.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Until 9th April 2021, American Express is running the biggest sign-up bonuses ever seen on a UK payment card.

You will earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Platinum (apply here) and 50,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Gold (apply here) which is FREE for your first year. Points transfer 1:1 into Avios. Here are links to our reviews:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

100,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and a long list of travel ….. Read our full review

Amex American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

50,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and free for a year Read our full review

Here are your other options. There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (62)

  • Chris says:

    Slightly off topic here but I just cancelled by BA Premier and the email I received from AMEX said “any earned companion voucher will become void” I don’t think this is true and the voucher is still confirmed in my BA account. Any thoughts?

    • Rob says:

      Never happened, ever, to anyone before.

    • Alan says:

      It will happily sit in your BAEC account until used! Just need to use any sort of Amex to pay the fees and taxes when redeeming.

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    British Airways to launch 'CombiFare'?

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