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)

  • Mike says:

    I hope this comes to fruition – just priced up a J flight to Caribbean. Return flight via avios is available but no outbound – priced it up and it was costing £10,000 one way for 2

    • fbrj says:

      I had a similar problem recently. Before the BA “Sale” I had trouble with availability going out with avios. We have very specific date requirements with a timeshare villa. So in the end pd cash for 2 x PE and UUA for the return to J. Approx £2500 + 50,000 avios for 2ppl. Daytime flt out so PE not too bad; o/night coming back in J. One thing I noticed post “Sale” – reward flights seem to have vanished!

  • James67 says:

    Way OT sorry: If I refer a friend from my BA amex can she only use the link to apply for a BA amex too or can she apply for any card, and would I still get my bonus avios if she did apply for a different card? Thanks.

  • Peter Taysum says:

    OT I’ve just booked LIN to BOM (obviously exEU in the sale) in Bus – and upgraded the outbound LHR to BOM to First for 22 500 Avios 🙂 I *thought* I didn’t get increased Tier Points but on Manage my Booking – it’s upgraded the additional 70 Tier Points. Is this correct?

    Thanks

    and Thanks Rob/Annika 🙂

    • Peter Taysum says:

      Even more OT – I managed to book LIN to BOM as a holiday – deferring payment and getting discount – is it possible to book a “holiday” over the phone for a complex DUB to HNL itinerary – adding a hotel – thereby just paying a deposit?

      Thanks

      • idrive says:

        What fare did you originally book it on, to enable the upgrading option? what was the procedure? have you done it yourself online?

  • vs travel bear says:

    OT- has anyone had their virgin bonus miles credited from the virgin trains promotion?

    • Genghis says:

      Not yet. I believe it’s due by 31 Aug and have diarised to review next week. My son really enjoyed his one way trip across Edinburgh…

  • Lewis Watson says:

    Anyone got experience of the BA android app. I can’t change the starting point on the cheap fare finder. It’s stuck on London. I used to be able to change to Dublin and Edinburgh to compare prices but now I can’t find the option

    • Peter Taysum says:

      It defaults to London. I don’t *think* you can change it. I’m based in NCL so tend to use finder on the App for there, then book adding NCL which it does fine. If booking Bus, it puts me into I think selling class I which gives 29 TP for NCL to LHR.

      Even on the website, not sure you can change from London, but I may be wrong

  • Callum says:

    Virtually every post I read on here nowadays is “off topic”… While I generally don’t care what people do, would your needs not be better served by one of the numerous travel forums out there?

    • Rob says:

      I have a found a potential way of running a Q&A forum on the site without a full forum. I just need a bit of free time to implement it. Anika is taking on more HFP-related stuff from next month which will free up my time for things like this, as well as sorting out a proper mobile site and various other initiatives on the ‘to do’ list.

      • Graeme says:

        In fairness I sometimes find the OT stuff as interesting and useful as the headline article so never really bothers me. At some point the level of OT may become such that the original articles are superfluous.. Be interesting to see the Q&A forum as a potential solution..

        • Fenny says:

          I also find the OT questions mostly useful. If they aren’t, I just skip them.

          • Nate1309 says:

            +1 I also find the O/T stuff really useful

          • Callum says:

            As I said, what people do generally doesn’t bother me so I just ignore them too. Merely pointing out that using an inferior site (for this specific purpose, not in general) in a way it’s not meant to be used seems a bit silly.

      • Matt says:

        Why don’t you want a full forum? Not wanting to duplicate Flyertalk, too much work moderating or something else?

        • Rob says:

          I accept that I am probably the only person who could create a thriving UK-based forum (even Business Traveller struggles). However, the issues are:

          1. Large amounts of moderating (and my preferred amount of time spent moderating is nil, given that the site takes about 50 hours a week at present to run)
          2. Legal issues with the strict UK libel laws
          3. Any use of the most popular forum software would mean that it would have to be a separate website (I don’t like any of the WordPress forum integrations) which brings its own problems
          4. Hard to monetise because people won’t pay for ads in forums (and at the same time, it would reduce page views for the articles which reduces the ad revenue from those)
          5. Flyertalk does a good job covering the UK market anyway

          Most forums actually used Indian-based companies to moderate their forums, believe it or not, but that isn’t a route I am keen to go down.

          • Alan says:

            Agree with all those points and think it would really detract from the site to go down a full forum route.

          • Leo says:

            I think things are okay as they are so long as there is a marked “Bits” article, which there usually is – and people try and stick putting the OT stuff there.

          • Alan says:

            Agreed, in general that system had been working pretty well.

            I guess what some folk might value in any new system would be a way to follow comments with email alerts – at present I think just folk like myself that signed up years ago to all comments on HfP receive notifications.

      • Mr Dee says:

        Yes would be good as its hard to continue conversations past the current day’s articles, I don’t see flyertalk good at covering the UK topics.

      • harry says:

        with respect I think Anika needs to learn the trade a bit longer, though I suppose there is nothing better than learning on the job

        so you need to carefully curate the site whilst she is learning

        [goes back to garden to ignore flames lol]

        • Rob says:

          I didn’t say she’d be writing it, although she will pick up more than she does now. 2/3rd of the hours I do are non-article writing. I have 4 meetings (and a networking trip to WWE Wrestling!) in my first full week back I could have offloaded for a start.

          You would be surprised what others outsource. One of the US bloggers has an Indian company who resize and write captions (visible and invisible for Google) to his photos overnight. Saves max 3 mins per photo but he told me it adds up.

          • Rob says:

            No!

          • ankomonkey says:

            WWE? Advising them on how to collect and use airmiles/hotel points? Those guys travel a lot. I once flew BA MAN-JFK with them filling out the entire cabin (surprisingly I think it was W, not J). They’d pretty much trashed it. Bizarre moment to disembark the plane with The Undertaker sat there looking stoic. I think it was too much booze rather than him keeping in character…

  • Andrew says:

    This could be quite handy.

    So in the very near future, once the Scottish Government completely abolishes APD, I should be able to fly one way from Edinburgh with an APD free cash fare, then use Avios to fly back from the USA to London – also APD free…

  • Toby Warren says:

    Sigh reminds me of cash and miles with BMI – sigh.

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