Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘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 (August 2021)

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

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

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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.

(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)

  • Genghis says:

    OT. Tesco vouchers. I used a £50 Clubcard voucher to buy £15 virgin miles and therefore due 3,500 points back. Normally how long does the refund take?

  • James67 says:

    You seem optimistic Rob so I hope you will not be disappointed. Being BA I think we should expect a catch someplace, e.g. part pay with avios has never lived up to expectations and currently 35k avios for £200 will be a con in many people’s eyes, and avios and money has its problems too.

    • Simmo says:

      It’s better than Virgins pay with miles….. If you part pay with miles on Virgin it voids your opportunity to collect status points & miles!

  • Katy storie says:

    Hi, can I ask if the BA Amex 241 voucher is for a one way or return redemption? I’m thinking of getting the BA card and the combifares have flagged up the 241 offer again which has finally pushed me to find out more!
    Thanks.

  • Nick G says:

    I think this is great news ….. because I can look forward to paying cash for my fun size mars bar. The saying give with one hand take with the other seems to be BA philosophy these days……one day they might realise.

  • John says:

    The combifare is a good idea in principle but it needs to be bookable online.

    WIth the example of £1000 in WT+ LHR-JFK return, the cash element is not going to be half because of the taxes and fees, which are about £300 LHR-JFK and £100 JFK-LHR, so you’d actually pay £700 + 26K avios (offpeak) rather than £500.

    Also BA had better award miles and TPs on the cash portion.

    I booked a combifare with VS HKG-SYD (when they still flew it) as I wanted to empty my Virgin account. It was massively annoying and required phone calls and emails to the Hong Kong office, followed by faxes of my credit card and then visiting the office in person as soon as I arrived in HK before they could issue the ticket. I’m not sure what the procedure is ex-UK.

    • dps says:

      As VFC Lifetime Gold I’ve used VS Combi fares on LHR-JFK-LHR and LHR-IAD-LHR (westbound in PE, eastbound in UC) even where redemption seats were available – to maximise Miles earned.

      It’s never taken the superb FCG team more than 5 minutes to price and book my Combi fares; less tnme than it usually takes BA Gold Line and its options to put me through to a human being.; .

  • Jordan D says:

    I know these things leak, but am surprised seeing as the terms of the survey were meant to be confidential ….

    • Rob says:

      You cannot realistically impose a confidentiality agreement when one party had no benefit from it – and I assume the survey was not paid.

    • harry says:

      otoh if people who did the survey signed a confidentiality agreement when they did the survey, they are pretty mean pieces of poop to ignore the ‘contract’

      the surveys ARE paid

      interesting info, though & no reflection on hfp as hfp did not sign a ‘contract’

  • Dan says:

    You can make your own combi-fares to NYC/LAX/MIA/LAS if you don’t mind flying Norwegian one way – I’ve just booked BA CW using Avios LHR – JFK, Norwegian JFK – LGW return flights for ~£150 each with a checked bag. Used my Lloyds Avios Upgrade Voucher on the CW flights so the whole thing comes in about £390 and 26,000 Avios per person.

  • h1tvd says:

    O/T applied for the Amex platinum upgrade for the 20k points on £1k spend. It didn’t appear in my account but I messaged Amex stating that I was waiting for confirmation of the points bonus before I activated my card and I have been assured I will get the 20k points. Will spend the £1k fast as I’ve just bought a new bike so will see soon if its honored……

    • James67 says:

      Others have reported same thing and have experienced no problems getting their bonus. Expect thev £450 fee to hit your account on gold anniversary though, I made a huge mistake upgrading just before mine and was hit with the platinum fee on my second statement.

      • Rob says:

        The upgrade bonus is meant to be targetted and I know people who did not get it, which is why I have never featured it.

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