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British Airways offering you EU compensation as Avios – at a poor rate

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Over half term, my brother had a terrible time flying out to New York on BA.  His connection from Manchester to Heathrow was delayed due to a cancellation.  Because they had booked 5 x World Traveller Plus seats, BA struggled to reseat them on a Heathrow service and they had to take a taxi to Gatwick to take their NYC flight.  They arrived about five hours late.

He promptly filed a claim for his automatic compensation under EC261 for delays over three hours.   To give them credit, British Airways was very efficient and within a week he had received €3,000.

Travel insurance

Recent reports on Flyertalk suggest that BA is offering customers the option of taking Avios instead of money.

This is allowed under the EU regulations, which state:

The compensation …… shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

What I don’t understand is that BA appears to be treating this as another option to leg over its passengers.

The deal being offered is €600 (c £500) or 38,000 Avios.

This is a VERY poor deal if you take the Avios.  You are paying 1.33p per point.You can often buy Avios for noticeably less than 1.33p per point via the regular special deals run by BA and  More importantly, most people would struggle to get more than 1.33p per point when redeeming – take a look at my core article on ‘What is an Avios point worth?’.

I would strongly recommend taking the money if you find yourself in this scenario.  Money is more flexible than Avios and if you really need 38,000 points an offer is likely to be along soon enough to buy them for less than 1.33p anyway.

BA could do itself a favour by offering, say, €800 of travel vouchers instead of €600 in cash.  This would be a more interesting alternative and would help retain a customer who (since they are making a delay claim in the first place) is probably not feeling very positive about BA currently.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 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

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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 (79)

  • Joseph says:


    Hoping someone here may have some insight into my experiences with BA on a delayed flight in September.
    I was booked on a Baltiimore BWI to London Heathrow flight (BA 0228) on 6th September 2016. I arrived in plenty of time to check in my bag with my pre-printed boarding pass but was told by BA check in they were having a small technical issue and everybody would have to wait. Very little updates from BA but after a couple of hours waiting in line it was confirmed that there were problems with the BA computers and if necessary BA would switch to manual check in. (Around this time I discovered I was one of only a handful of passengers who had managed to check in and print my pass, not that it seemed to help me at all)

    Finally we did go manual which was sloooow and the flight due to depart at 21.50 left around 1.00 am. And almost worse still was that the flight was full and the inflight entertainment was not working.

    We then landed at Heathrow at 13.57 (by BA’s own flight checker) delayed from 9.55am. So just over the magic 4 hours by my calculation. I thought raising an immediate complaint via the BA website ought to be relatively clear cut. Over 3 weeks later I received a response from BA that they were sorry to hear about the delay and (non) entertainment system but:

    “Your claim’s been refused because BA0228 on 06 September was delayed because of airspace restrictions being in place that operational circumstances outside of our control. We always concern about our passengers’ safety. Under EU legislation, I’m afraid we’re not liable for a compensation payment in this situation.

    We take all reasonable measures to avoid delaying a flight and we always consider if there are any operational options available before we make a decision. We’re very sorry the delay was necessary in this case.” And that they have instead credited by BA account with 3,000 Avios.

    I’m very surprised to hear about the “airspace restrictions” as this was never mentioned by check in staff or the pilot/staff when apologising for the delays. Of course upon returning to London I discover on the news that ‘IT glitches’ have caused chaos with BA check in and flights, worldwide.

    So my question is, am I being naive in even wondering if BA could be telling porkies about the airspace restrictions? Or if there were some sort of airspace restrictions they don’t change the fact that the BA IT glitch was the primary cause. Should I persist with BA or consider the small claims route?

    Any pointers or similar experiences gratefully received. Apologies for the long rambly post but I noted elsewhere that a poster was asked for fuller details.


    • Han says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Sounds to me they’re def telling porkies!! I would file an MCOL in this instance under EC261 as they will now have to justify their petty response in court.

      Good luck!!

      • the real harry says:

        +1 you’ll get your compo but need to press it

        don’t fall at the first (spurious) hurdle

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